It's something I rarely do, except by accident. In fact, even while I was doing it, I couldn't remember the last time I had done this.
And by this, I mean click on a banner ad in a mobile app. On purpose.
I've been creating and running ads for clients for quite awhile. So when I see a really good ad, I take a screen shot before I click. And this was a great ad. One of the best little mobile banner ads I'd seen.
If you are a local business doing a local promotion, you need a banner ad this good.
Not only was it eye-catching, it was relevant and local. An ad for a new Dick's Sporting Goods / Field and Stream combo opening nearby. I'd watched the buildings progress over the past few months. So here was this ad - great colors, clear and readable text, the finished buildings, and the announcement of the grand opening. I might even take the kids up there to see some of the sports stars.
So I clicked on that perfectly placed, great-looking banner ad
Learning from a Bad Example.
Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) is a marketing behemoth. Their stores are practically theme parks. A huge, modern, progressive company with their marketing muscle could easily promote a store opening.
In 2015, they announced plans for opening 135-150 stores in the next 3 years. They plan on doing $1 billion just in e-commerce sales in 2017. Their store launches feature sport stars and sportsmen plugging top-of-the-line equipment.
As I was saying, I clicked on that banner ad. It quickly became clear that they had not tested anything.
It took me a moment to figure out what website I had landed on. Despite clicking on a mobile banner, I had ended up on scrunched-up desktop page. To it's credit, the Chrome browser did offer to make the page mobile-friendly. Finally, the logo loaded and I found I was, indeed, on the Dick's Sporting Goods page.
Lesson 1 - Test every text ad and banner ad landing page on actual devices.
Lesson 2 - For one-time events and promotions, start out with a clean, simple mobile-first land page at a custom location for paid search.
Keep Current With Core Technologies
Chrome didn't have much luck with its mobile hack. The page was still a mess. I clicked on Directions link to see if it would take me to a mobile page. Instead, I received a bizarre error page.
I recognized it. Anyone out there who has been doing location detection for awhile recognizes it. I realized that this multi-billion dollar megachain did not using SSL for its main site.
Awhile back, Google decided to require mobile pages and apps move to HTTPS in order use its location detection api. Google gave plenty of warning. If you didn't pay attention to that warning, your app or web script would eventually break.
Just like this one did.
Anyone trying to access Dick's Sporting Goods store locator on mobile should see the same error I was seeing.
This wasn't limited to the new Cedar Park store. Its the whole site. Apparently, no one at DKS checks their Brandify-built mobile locator page.
Lesson 3 - Test all pages regularly that count on third-party services (like Google Maps).
Lesson 4 - Check API versions for third-party services. When the API reference page refers to your version as "retired" you need an update.
Map to No Where
Even the map link was incorrect. It wasn't even a valid street address.
Lesson 5 - When building Google Map links, always make sure the url has /maps/place/ and not /maps/search/
Lesson 6 - Always test your map links on multiple devices.
And since the map link is still broken as of 3/8/2017, here is a working link to their map location in Cedar Park.
Getting One Mobile Marketing Step Right
You will be happy to know that, despite their poor attempts at mobile online promotion, Dick's Sporting Goods and Field and Stream had a successful open.
I couldn't go, but friends and neighbors assure me we need to go. We'll be heading up there soon.
Dick's Sporting Goods did implement one mobile marketing promotion perfectly.
Lesson 7 - Don't forget to use traditional mobile marketing tools.
Lesson 8 - It's hard to screw up a billboard. Just don't let anyone put a URL on it.
I'm not posting this just to make a dig at a huge retailer. I doubt they will notice. Let's face it - a poorly-executed mobile banner funnel won't affect them in the slightest.
But I do want any business owner reading this to take these mistakes to heart. These mistakes could be fatal to a small local business.
It's up to you to test your ads, your landing pages, and your web applications on multiple devices. Don't trust your developer, your contractor, or your marketer (and I've been all three at one time or another). Always have one person responsible for testing the work of the rest of the team -- even if that person is you.