Mercedes-Benz USA recently revamped its Web site for mobile devices to better serve its customers. The new mobile site (m.mbusa.com) isn’t just a pared down version of the auto maker’s full site. Instead, it feels more like a mobile app, presenting information to shoppers and owners that they’re most likely to need while on the go.
The Mercedes mobile site features the basics of what car shoppers need while doing preliminary research or while at a dealer. Users can quickly find current deals, option descriptions and other info that some salespeople don’t know off the top of their heads. Those looking to configure a Mercedes vehicle or get the most detailed information will still need to visit the full version of MBUSA.com.
The site is much more streamlined than other auto manufacturers’ sites I visited.Mercedes-Benz’s new mobile site certainly helped me make informed decisions as I met with the local dealer to lease a new SUV last month. More importantly, the site’s helped me learn the ins and outs of all the gadgetry packed into the vehicle. One of my favorite features on the new mobile site is its video demo section, which makes it much easier to configure and use everything in the cockpit. It’s also easy to find and download owner manuals and the 484-page COMMAND navigation and entertainment manual.
Mercedes Benz is known for designing some nice machines, but it didn’t design its mobile site. Instead, it hired Usablenet, a company that specializes in mobile Web sites. Usablenet helps companies such as FedEx and Ritz-Carlton mobilize their sites. I caught up with Usablenet CMO Carin Van Vuuren to learn more about how they designed the Mercedes site and why mobile sites can be preferable to mobile apps. Below is a Q&A with Van Vuuren.
Can you tell us about what’s new with the Mercedes mobile site?
Van Vuuren: In the past year, Mercedes Benz has noticed a 170% increase in mobile traffic to their website. In an effort to appeal to this growing mobile consumer base, Mercedes made it a priority to create an enhanced mobile web experience for smartphone users. Mercedes worked with Usablenet to bolster its mobile offerings and create a luxury mobile experience for both new consumers, as well as for valued Mercedes clients and brand enthusiasts. On the new mobile site, customers can now browse high-resolution image galleries with tap-tap zoom functionality and carousel image browsing. The site also has GPS functionialtiy so that users can locate a nearby authorized dealer.
These enhancements only further enable Mercedes-Benz to connect with their consumers on a deeper level by creating a relevant experience that is unique to every device and channel.
Why do companies need customized sites for each device? Why is that important?
Van Vuuren: On mobile, one size does not fit all. Instead, it all comes down to the experience you want to create for your customer. Brands need to focus on creating relevant experiences for each channel to address customer needs and context. The mobile experience you deliver is increasingly a reflection of your overall relationship with the user.
Successful mobile and multichannel engagement starts with having a deep understanding of what the customer is trying to do at each stage of the journey. While mobile users want easy to use functionality like store locators and product research capabilities, tablet users want to dream and discover your brand in a touch-friendly environment. The on-property experience sits at the center of this journey, with the ability of mobile to help lead to deeper on-property engagement by synchronizing the experience across channels.
What challenges was Mercedes working to combat by creating a mobile optimized site?
Van Vuuren: Mercedes partnered with Usablenet to create a luxury mobile experience consistent with its brand in response to the growing need of customers to use mobile as part of their vehicle purchase journey. For example, Mercedes noticed that many of its customers were browsing vehicles while out on the weekends. They recognized that the ideal mobile solution must enable consumers to search for Mercedes vehicles and complete their initial discovery on the go.
Specifically, Usablenet worked with Mercedes to create a mobile experience that achieves two goals: first, to capture buyers’ interest when browsing Mercedes vehicles, and second, to build loyalty with existing Mercedes car owners.
How does the site appeal to the Mercedes brand audience?
The Mercedes mobile solution effectively facilitates what the automotive customer most wants to accomplish when engaging with the brand via mobile. The enhanced mobile site offers an experience that is contextually-relevant by highlighting features and functionality that are helpful throughout the purchase phase all the way through the ownership phase.
The mobile solution we built successfully enables Mercedes to help the mobile user find what they’re looking for as quickly and elegantly as possible, which was a primary goal for the brand. Additionally, the sleek and technologically innovative functionality was created with the affluent, tech-savvy, Mercedes customer in mind. The Mercedes mobile experience is aesthetically pleasing, with sleek functionality and high-resolution images.
Why mobile site vs. mobile app?
When determining whether to create a mobile site versus mobile app, it is essential for a brand to know what they want to achieve with the mobile experience. While both mobile sites and apps are important, mobile apps are geared more towards brand loyalists, while mobile sites are much more scalable and designed for all users. Mobile sites are faster when searching for nearby store locations, phone numbers, and more, whereas mobile apps are meant for people that have a deep affinity to a brand, and will revisit the app on a regular basis.