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Tim McLain

Tim McLain Senior Marketing Manager

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5 Steps to Profitable Mobile Marketing

How to plan and execute a cutting-edge digital advertising campaign

In recent months, I’ve discussed strategy and how mobile marketing leverages buyer spontaneity. Although purchasing an auto is a big decision, a key takeaway is that customers with smartphones are “on the go” and looking to buy quickly.

Marketing firm The Search Agency found that one in four paid clicks in the United States in Q4 2012 came from all mobile devices (tablets and phones). Our data shows on average that mobile cost per click can be half what it is for searches conducted from personal computers. Best of all, mobile ads can get up to twice the click-through rate.

Knowing this, your mobile marketing messages should point to a new, fully mobile-optimized website (not your standard site) that targets this customer. After you’ve made the decision to pursue mobile marketing, now is the time when the “rubber hits the road” and you’re ready to think strategy and implementation.

These five steps will guide you toward maximizing your return on your mobile marketing investment.

1. Create an optimized mobile website

Your mobile website should be coded with responsive design so it renders correctly across all device types. It should contain these essential elements:

  • Start with an optimized mobile home page design, display your dealership name and logo
  • Phone number in bold, with a “click to call” button
  • Full address with link to a map
  • Button to activate turn-by-turn directions for GPS function
  • Inventory listings (or at least top makes and models)
  • Specials page (this is second most visited page, don’t ever let it sit idle, offer a deal, incentive, coupon, etc.)
  • Social media integration, so customers can see your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., channels right on their device
  • Integration with your regional (tier 2) advertising so you can funnel related online activity into local sales opportunities
  • Reviews integration, so customers can click to sites where they can read a review or post one

View your mobile site through your iPhone or Android phone and make sure it’s easy for customers to navigate. Data shows that “true” mobile users are on their phones in your local market and are ready to buy; tablet users use the same keywords as personal computer users and are higher in the sales funnel.

2. Develop your mobile marketing strategy

Where do you want mobile customers to land when they click on an ad? Create unique landing pages for your each of your models plus core service (fixed operations) categories. If someone clicks on your mobile ad featuring Ford F-150s, be sure it goes to a mobile-optimized page for F-150s and not your home page.

Build a specific, strategic “digital campaign within a campaign” to target local mobile customers. First, look at your current digital marketing assets. What are your best converting themes and keywords for customers searching for you on their personal computer? Look at your analytics to be sure you have a high impression share (share of voice) and that your dealership ads appear 60%-70% of the time customers conduct a search with purchase intent in your market.

Now think mobile to do the same.

Your goal should be to get similarly high share of voice on mobile devices as well as personal computers. Since only one mobile ad often appears at the top of a mobile search results page, that’s where you want to be. Work with a trusted marketing partner to research your local market to see how many mobile searches are being conducted for your dealership and its top services.

Tip: Many mobile searches contain just two to three words. Buyers may search for “Toyota Prius special offers” on a computer but just “2013 Prius” or “Prius” on mobile. Consider broader, simpler keyword sets for your mobile campaign.

3. Employ geographic targeting

You can control how close to your store and at what times of day you want your mobile ads to appear. If you’re tightly controlling geotargeting in your desktop campaign, keep it the same for mobile. Base this around where you know you sell the most vehicles geographically.

Early data shows that day parting your messaging (only showing ads when your store is open) isn’t yet moving the needle significantly in terms of performance. People conduct more than a dozen searches online over 10-14 hours many days or weeks before buying.

Do you want your ads for “Chevy Camaro” to show up at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m. on a mobile phone? Perhaps, since even though search volume drops off when you close up your dealership, you still want to capture all available search activity when it occurs.

4. Write effective mobile ads

In creating your mobile ads, consider the following:

  • The same analytical approach applies to mobile as desktop; install and rely on Google Analytics on your mobile and regular website to keep tabs on local market searches and click activity across devices
  • Conduct tests to see where there is a critical mass of volume of searches on mobile, then target the ad copy around that
  • Customize the messaging (test drive now, call now, buy today, etc.) to appeal to mobile customers in close proximity
  • Be purposeful and targeted to the theme you’re going after
  • Mention the specific models you are highlighting and how many you have in stock
  • Less is more in terms of ad copy; stay focused on a central call to action
  • Make the ad copy keyword-centric (include the keywords you’re bidding on in your ad text)
  • Don’t use ALL the available space, be laser-focused so customers “get it” in a glance

Much like an aggressive personal computer-targeted campaign, measurement and adjustment of your mobile campaign is crucial. Adjust bids and ads daily according to actions (click to call) to maximize returns. Keep tabs on contact forms/finding attribution points to prove effectiveness and rate of conversion. A qualified vendor can apply proprietary technology to automate proactive changes to your campaign to stay ahead of the competition and drive top results.

5. Create mobile display ads

You may already be running digital banner (display) ads. Resize and simplify new versions for mobile. Use big fonts and 3-5 words. Think simple and clear. Make a distinct central offer or a simple, bold statement or call to action.

More people are using mobile browsers over apps to find local dealers and inventory. The jury is still out on whether ads within specific apps or on mobile browser search results are converting the best. Do both, and analyze your results.

Test, test, test

The wonderful thing about digital campaigns is that they provide real-time data. Where are you getting traffic, and how is it converting? Adjust your campaigns to reflect this newfound insight. 

Test, test, test on both desktop and mobile, but also look at your entire customer experience. If your digital and traditional marketing activities are driving solid traffic and phone calls to your dealership but you’re not closing more sales, examine your ad assets for things to enhance and review your sales process in-store to close more.

Tim McLain is the senior marketing manager for Netsertive (, a fast-growing digital advertising company that drives local sales opportunities to dealers through the power of Internet discovery. You can reach Tim at: 


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