Making the Case for Mobile Marketing: Putting the Pedal to the Metal with Ford Motor Company

The impact of mobile marketing can’t be overstated. According to IDC, more people in the U.S. will access the Internet through a mobile device than through their PC by 2015. In this new series, Elite Email takes a look at highly successful campaigns to uncover their mobile marketing lessons. This week’s case study: How shifting away from print marketing put Ford’s sales into high gear.

With an auto industry still reeling from the market implosion of 2008, American based automotive manufacturers like the Ford Motor Company have had a pretty hard road ahead of them during the recovery and reorganization process. Adding in that plenty of people look at car dealerships with little more than open distrust doesn’t exactly help either. However, with the right approach and some great SMS tactics, Ford recently showed that it’s not all bad news for a company that’s back on the rise and looking to return to the top of the automotive world.

Building a Plan

Aside from reemphasizing quality and style with plenty of revamped lines, Ford also decided that there’s no better time than now to reconnect with customers via text. At the heart of this plan was pumping up interest for the latest models of the Taurus and Escape, instead of simply sending off generic messages that covered every car on the lot. As you’ll see later on, keeping things focused on highlighting these models made a big impact by generating qualified leads with shoppers that wanted to learn a little less about the brand in general and a little more about these particular cars.

Getting the Wheels in Motion

So now that we’ve got the foundation of the plan built, it’s time to look at the next step of the campaign – honing in on customers interested in either the Taurus or the Escape. To do this, the brand used print marketing space already paid for to provide readers with an opt-in keyword (FORD) and a short code. From here, intrigued shoppers fired off a text and instantaneously received a response asking for a little more info. Rounding out the mini-survey were questions covering the model the customer was most interested in, the person’s zip code, and his or her full name. After responding, this customer info made its way to the nearest local Ford dealership, creating the perfect opportunity for a follow-up chat about potential offers.

Overcoming the Hesitancy Roadblock

Unfortunately, no SMS campaign is perfect, so finding a way to turn this first run of messages into successful second chances became one of the goals of the guys running things at Ford. As part of this process, the concept of retargeting – basically, reaching out again if the first message falls a little short – took center stage. As with any major purchase, most people won’t rush into buying a car, so Ford figured that a little extra attention would help overcome this hesitancy and get the gears in motion for customers stopping by at the local dealership. Naturally, there is a fine line between taking another shot that seals the deal and crossing into annoying territory, but Ford’s results showed that if you can find balance with this tactic, chances are you’re going to really like where your campaign ends up.

So How Did Ford Fare?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how things panned out for the once downtrodden motor company. After just a month of connecting with shoppers, Ford recorded an astounding 15.4 percent conversion rate on offers sent via text. Considering that so many motor companies are vying for such a limited number of interested consumers, having returns like this not only put Ford ahead of competition with its latest marketing efforts, it also showed that with the right approach, there are few things that turn a disinterested audience into happy customers faster than a well planned SMS campaign.

Tips to Take for Your Own Business

Even if you’re not in the automotive industry, there’s plenty of useful tips you can pull from Ford’s campaign. The first on the list is that sometimes being narrow and focused is a powerful tool. Instead of simply talking about how great your brand is, put the emphasis on a specific product or offer to really drum up some interest. Additionally, incorporating some smart retargeting methods, all while not going overboard and turning off the customer with constant messages, can breathe new life into a lead that would otherwise go unclaimed by a customer who is still sitting on the fence. If you can build around these concepts and follow in Ford’s footsteps, there’s no doubt you’ll be in good company as far as SMS marketing goes.

Ford

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