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Top 12 Auto Marketing Trends of 2016

A YEAR IN REVIEW: a look back at the top automotive marketing trends of 2016...and a sneak peek into 2017

Much like the state of the automotive industry over the last year, AutoHook, powered by Urban Science has withstood and conquered unprecedented change throughout 2016. As experts in digital adaptation, AutoHook is consistently on the forefront of the latest trends in digital marketing and data solutions. Below is our recap of the top 12 headlines from the last 12 months in the automotive space. You'll also get a snapshot of how to "disrupt before you get disrupted" as we kick off 2017.

Google's Senior Vice President, Amit Singhal, announces mobile searches have officially surpassed desktop over the summer of 2015.

1. THE MOBILE TIPPING POINT

We all knew it was coming, but the speed at which mobile usage has overtaken desktop has been exceptionally faster than any other digital shift in our history. As featured in AutoHook's February article conveniently titled, The Mobile Tipping Point, "There’s no denying it. Mobile has forever changed the way marketers interact and reach consumers. We’re all slaves to it. The swiping, the scrolling, the click-to-call-ing, the convenience. In so many ways the mobile experience dictates not only where our marketing should be, but also the entire advancement of communication as we know it."

Epic flooding at the Ford Dealership in Republic Missouri after 24 hours of heavy rain. Video footage courtesy of CarScoops.com

2.  NATURAL DISASTERS STRIKE DEALERSHIPS ACROSS THE U.S.

 

Mississippi River Flooding

The residents of Missouri and Illinois had a rough start to 2016 after the detrimental flooding of the Mississippi River and other waterways spanning the two states. In some areas, more than two feet of rain graced the Midwest with its presence, resulting in over 25 deaths and thousands forced from their homes in freezing temperatures. (As featured in How Dealerships Can Stay Afloat in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters).

Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer.  Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in  Automotive News

Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer. Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in Automotive News

Winter Storm Jonas Hits East Coast

Automotive News reported the “Jonas Effect” forced Toyota to temporarily close 200 of its dealerships. Herb Gordon Volvo, in Silver Spring, Maryland experienced a roof collapse due to the overly dense snow. Forbes noted auto sales were better than expected in January despite the harsh weather conditions. "Sales actually managed a small increase in January according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

“It’s not just hurricanes. Any natural disaster, such as an earthquake, can cripple a dealership. There need to be provisions for natural disasters in areas susceptible to them.”  - Mitch Phillips, Global Director of Data, Urban Science
Image courtesy of  ColumbusAgency.com

Image courtesy of ColumbusAgency.com

 

3. GOOGLE'S SERP CHANGE

Google has bulletproof adaptation skills. They seek out disturbances within the digital space and adjust accordingly. Due to the fact that mobile searches have now surpassed desktop, Google altered the layout of their search engine results pages (SERPs) to better align with mobile’s responsive design. In February 2016 they stopped displaying paid ads on the right side of SERPs. (Content originally featured in AutoHook's latest eBook, Adapt or Die: The Auto Dealer's Digital Adaptation Survival Guide).

 

 

4. RISING PAID SEARCH COMPETITION

What does this mean for dealers? For starters, a huge potential for increased SEM costs and more competition for top ad ranking. Search Engine Land analyzed the results of Google’s most recent adaptability demonstration: “Looking at the median change from February 8 through March 16 (2016) for a sample of advertisers year over year, we find that first-page minimum bids continue to increase steadily since the removal of right rail text ads.”

 

5. THE CLICK-TO-CONVERSION SHIFT

"If you start with conversion first and foremost, the thousands of dollars you spend driving traffic to your site each month will actually be validated. eMarketer reported $61.5 billion will be spent on search and display alone in 2016. If the majority of your digital ad budget goes into SEM and banner ads that drive shoppers to your website, but you don’t first ensure your site has the ability to convert at a high rate, you are willingly throwing money in the garbage. It’s like throwing a pitch to home plate without a catcher. It just doesn’t make any sense." - David Metter, President, AutoHook Powered by Urban Science

6. OMNICHANNEL MARKETING BECOMES A MUST-HAVE APPROACH

Omnichannel shoppers are the most valuable to your business. When both your dealership's in-store and digital efforts communicate and work together, it creates an ideal shopping environment resulting in customer loyalty. IBM’s recent whitepaper states, “The most sophisticated retailers are enabling customers to convert on any channel. After all, shoppers who buy in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.”

Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21.  Click to watch.

Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21. Click to watch.

7. VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO...& MORE VIDEO

Scott Empringham, CEO of Flash Point Communications joined AutoHook's panel "The Naked Truth" at Digital Dealer 21 this past August. His advice? Video is the #1 driver of consideration for new vehicles. Scott recommends dealers create 90-second videos just using their iPhone to post on social channels. “If you’re looking for a vehicle, you probably want a good look at the vehicle. Include shots of the vehicle’s exterior, interior, features and benefits.” 90-second videos have been enormously successful for Flash Point and their clients.

Fellow panelist, Kelly McNearney, Google's Senior Automotive Strategist could not agree more! Kelly says, “All I care about is online video. It’s great because you don’t need to customize your content for each individual channel, you can run the same video across platforms.” 

 

8. ONLINE BUYING: ARE WE THERE YET?

The article, 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone's Reality highlights the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

 

 

Lindsay Kwaselow  ,   April Rain ,  Kevin Frye  and  Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

Lindsay KwaselowApril Rain, Kevin Frye and Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

9. DEALERS AGREE, PAID SOCIAL ADS DO IN FACT SELL CARS

In 2016, the industry determined that social ads really do sell cars, and we heard it straight from dealers themselves! In Part I of our Naked Truth Exposed series, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce Director of Proctor Dealerships said, "Social media DOES in fact sell cars. Social outlets give us the power to build quality relationships, which then translate into quality website traffic. As long as your website converts, BOOM you can sell cars through social!"

Kevin Frye, eCommerce Director of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family also presented at #DD21 with his session, Have You Lost Your Mind? The Demise of Common Sense in Automotive. Frye asked the question, “Can you track ROI with social media?” In his DealerRefresh recap he confirmed, "The answer is yes! I excited many dealers a few conferences back when I showed how they could build attribution models and see for themselves how they could track a return for their social media efforts."

Scott Empringham, also reminds dealers to hold their social media companies accountable. In his October blog, Empringham states, "While traditional media offer varying levels of accountability, social media (especially Facebook) is off the charts regarding accountability and transparency. In fact, it’s more accountable than the previous champion, direct mail, with only 20% of the cost."

 

10. DATA SHARING ACROSS ALL AUTOMOTIVE TIERS

* Content featured in the October 2016 edition of  AutoSuccess Magazine  

* Content featured in the October 2016 edition of AutoSuccess Magazine 

AutoHook is doing our part to build one, solidified automotive railroad system by opening our API, and the sales validation data that comes with it, to all vendors – free of charge. In an industry where everyone charges to be connected, we want to be the player not to charge so that we can make stronger connections.

By adopting Apple’s open app approach, we can then simplify and unravel a very complicated subject. A subject that is perhaps the one absolute in an industry inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Backed by near-real-time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook has actually built an attribution engine that validates without a doubt that our solutions led directly to a sale. Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now THAT is something to get excited about!

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11. DMPS TAKE CENTER STAGE

During the Fall of 2016, DMPs gained escalating attention among the automotive marketing elite. In the November blog, What You Need to Know About DMPs, we learned the biggest uses for these data management platforms, including more accurate sales attribution metrics, more opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing, and that DMPs are an ideal tool in terms of audience targeting and segmentation. 

12. ATTRIBUTION CLAIMS ITS THRONE

In the August 2016 blog titled, AT LAST: Attribution Claims its Throne, David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science writes...

"Mark my words - 2017 is going to be THE YEAR OF ATTRIBUTION. eMarketer admitted companies have been slow to adopt proper attribution methods due to a number of obstacles, however they estimate over 50% of American businesses will make multichannel attribution a priority for their marketing efforts in the year ahead."

FUTURE FOCUS: 2017 Trends

CROSS-CHANNEL ATTRIBUTION

What is the point of marketing if you can't prove it resulted in a sale? There’s no argument that with everything our industry is capable of measuring, it all comes down to physical transactions between customers and dealers, specifically units sold and closed service ROs. That’s what you measure before anything else. That’s the reason the concept of attribution exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Learn more in David Metter's December blog, VDP Views are the Top KPI...and Other Data Myths.

According to The Marketer's Guide to Cross-Channel Attribution, "Marketers need to be measuring every campaign, regardless of channel, against the same goals they set out to achieve at the start of the year. These tend to sound a lot more like increasing lifetime value and average order value, and driving repeat purchases and customer loyalty, rather than increasing open rates or click rates, reach or visits. But this is only possible through cross-channel and cross-device attribution."

EQUITY MINING

If you're not doing it already, equity mining software should be the first thing dealers put into play in 2017. If you're not familiar with the term, Automotive News explains it as, "Equity-mining software, sometimes called data-mining software, enables dealerships to spot current customers who are in a good position to get out of the vehicle they have and into a new one for about the same monthly payment." AutoAlert has one of the industry's best data mining tools that uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal online trends and consumer behavior in order to provide actionable, in-market consumer intelligence. Equity mining could be the difference between being a part of the noise or being the first one to speak up when the time is right. 

ONE-TO-ONE MARKETING

Personalized marketing campaigns based on a consumer's previous actions and their digital footprint are increasingly becoming the most effective, if not the only way to impact buyers at the right time. Custom-built, targeted messages with a personalized touch elicit fiercer engagement rates. People don't just want personalized messages, they now expect them and are most likely to respond to an ad or message exclusively crafted for them.

How else can you break through layers upon layers of digital ads screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" People want personal. If your marketing initiatives don't take this into consideration, you will fall flat on consumers ears and invisible to their very short (and shrinking) attention spans.

Digital Wake Up Call: 3 Marketing Myths & How to Overcome Them

I always say the most successful marketers are the ones that look for problems and inefficiencies and implement new ways of thinking to solve them. There are those that follow, blend, and eventually fade, and then there are those that inspire change for the better. Einstein measured human intelligence solely by a person’s ability to change. There has been a trend in our industry that has gained a more than significant following. The time has come to take a step back, reevaluate, and make a change that will eradicate wasted ad spend.

The Automotive Marketing Home Run

By David Metter

The four bases that make up a baseball diamond can be directly related to the car shopper’s journey. We all know the path begins online. The final destination, or home base, is the dealership. The goal is to surpass all your bases and arrive back at home, or rather, get buyers into your store. You can’t get a home run without rounding the other three bases - that would be cheating. Similarly, in the car business, there are three obstacles you have to conquer first and foremost, before returning home for the win.

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First Base: Meet Expectations

The expectations of today’s digitally equipped consumers have skyrocketed. Souring shopper standards have caused additional complexities within the marketing landscape. There are more media outlets than ever before. New developments in mobile and wearable devices are generating more buzz than an overcrowded group text. Our access to data is exploding. Social media advertising opportunities are #Trending. But with all this technological innovation has come consequences. These advancements mean one thing for dealers and marketers: more competition. The following are guidelines to rise above and defeat the competition.

In a recent study, eMarketer reported 97% of US corporate executives say their customers expected an efficient, fast, cost-effective, and personalized level of experience. The two most critical components in automotive marketing today are speed and personalization. Cost aside, if you don’t offer a seamless, personal experience that spans from your digital advertising all the way to your showroom, having the lowest price in town isn’t going to matter - because buyers won’t make it to your dealership if you lack the first two pieces of the equation.

When a pitch is thrown to home plate, the batter has less than a tenth of a second to make a decision on whether or not to take a swing. When it comes to your website and mobile site, the same holds true. The modern-day consumer is flat out impatient. Google says 70% of smartphone users will leave a site that has a lagging load time and 67% will switch websites if it takes too many steps to get the relevant information they’re looking for. Dealers have a total of two seconds to ensure their mobile site experience prevails – slightly more time than a player at bat, but a very small window nonetheless.

According to AutoConversion, personalization of messaging is something we can and should be measuring. “Consumers now expect and respond better to messaging that is better customized to them personally, thus customization has become a key measurable characteristic with marketing attribution, an idea unimagined only a few years ago.”

Second Base: Establish Trust

I don’t care how you do it. Or at what inning in the game you earn their trust. But trust is paramount when it comes to selling cars. Choosing which vehicle to purchase and where to buy it is a large, emotionally dense decision. Whether it’s trust in a brand, a dealership, or a salesperson, it is ultimately that sense of security that makes people feel like they’re being provided with a personal, reliable experience. That feeling of comfort will translate across channels into vehicles sold.

Salespeople are already at a disadvantage when it comes to trust. A new survey from HubSpot says, “Only a mere 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy.” Dealers need to be cognizant of this when staffing sales and BDC staff. Your team’s ability to communicate with honesty and transparency should be equally as important as their experience and knowledge of your inventory.

The same rules apply in marketing. Your brand, your digital campaigns, your “why buy” messaging, and your reputation management, all must collectively paint a picture of trust. A dependable brand provides helpful tips and easy access to information. Dealers can establish integrity by sharing useful advice or articles throughout their digital endeavors, not necessarily related to their given product. 

Third Base: Achieve Conversion

We know vehicle details page (VDP) visits are important. There is no denying the correlation between VDP views and units sold. But what is even more important is the experience your VDP offers once the customer gets there. Your landing pages need to do three things: be easy to navigate, load fast, and above all, convert. Ask yourself, how do your VDPs incentivize customers to take that next step toward home base (your showroom)? KissMetrics says a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

And finally…

Home Plate: Your Dealership

The culmination of the home run occurs when all these factors are simultaneously in play. The trajectory includes every digital touch point (base) that ultimately drove a buyer into your showroom. Just as players must work together as a team, these micro-moments must all work in harmony in order to meet expectations, establish trust, and offer a fast and personal experience.  

3 Ways to Rev Up Revenue This Tax Season

By David Metter

April offers a month of renewed optimism for car dealers everywhere as spring comes into fruition and pockets become heavier with a little cash back from Uncle Sam. Tax refund season has arrived, and with it, infinite profit opportunities for both vehicle sales and your fixed operations. I fondly remember April 15th back in my car-selling days as the “real” beginning of the month. 

With that in mind, the following have the potential to be the three most lucrative areas to focus your strategy on during this season of budding opportunity:

1. Increase Show Rates. Okay, this is obvious - but here’s how. We all know the probability of closing a deal skyrockets when a customer is physically in front of you in your showroom. The challenge is getting them there. This is where lead scoring comes into play. If you had the ability to instantly score leads based on their level of buying intent wouldn’t that make the time you spend chasing leads drastically more efficient? Wouldn’t you then know which leads to focus your attention on first and foremost? I recommend implementing technology that has the ability to score all your site, mobile, and third party leads simultaneously and in real-time, so that you know where to focus your efforts.

One way to increase your odds of getting buyers in the showroom is to offer an incentive just for coming in for a test drive, or for a vehicle inspection if their car is a potentially desirable trade-in. The higher the lead score, the more you should offer in exchange to facilitate heavier foot traffic, both on your showroom floor and in your service drive.  

DealerRefresh just published an article advising dealers to have their sales staff “put the phone down!” Customers who call your store are not looking to be sold. In fact, they are already sold on which vehicle they want down to the year, make, model, and even and trim level. Therefore, all calls should be managed by your BDC, or your appointment setters as the one and only goal should be setting the appointment to get them in the door.

2. Reclaim Your Fixed Ops Revenue. The service and parts department of a dealership is easily the revenue engine with the most powerful horsepower. The potential for profit opportunities is greater than ever before in a market infested with disloyal service goers. According to DME Automotive, service center loyalty is remarkably low. “Fewer than 1 in 4 drivers are loyal to their service center type, leaving 88.2B up for grabs.” Yes, you read that right. Eighty-eight BILLION. That is how much money is at stake in the market for service and parts. So, who’s going to claim it?

Cars.com agrees and points out, “We in the industry know that dealerships provide fair, competitive prices on quality service, but service shoppers don’t because we aren’t telling them, and it’s squeezing dealership profitability.” National repair chains take business from dealerships either because their digital marketing is more effective, or they offer a smoother digital experience – or both. A better experience includes superior visibility and more transparent pricing models. “All things that are within a dealership’s power to control, improve upon and use to influence service customers,” says Cars.com.           

3. Deploy a Millennial Marketing Strategy. As you’ve probably heard, the Millennial market of vehicle buyers is rapidly accelerating – and it covers a wider age group than you may realize, spanning the ages of 18-34 years old. The differentiating factor in this generation is that the dealership experience is rated much more heavily than the actual price of a car. According to a recent DrivingSales study, “While finding the right vehicle at the right price is important to everyone, our study shows that most younger consumers want a positive customer experience at the dealership and are willing to pay a little more to ensure they get it.”

Edmunds.com also offers insight as to what the mobile experience in particular looks like for Millennials, reporting that 60% of Millennial visitors come through their mobile site. These shoppers are most active during evenings and weekends when they are out and about, implying they’re using their phones while on the dealer lot.

Tips for Appealing to Millennials:

·      Mobile Focused Ads

·      Fluidity of Setting Appointments

·      Up Front Pricing

Time and convenience are perhaps the greatest hurdles to overcome when competing for millennial attention, with price following closely in third place. People don’t have time to sit and wait. Often, they are willing to pay slightly more for a faster, easier experience. Wouldn’t you? Quite frankly, time is money.

There is no time to waste. Spring has sprung, and there are billions of dollars to be claimed!  

Solving the Attribution Confusion

How Dealers Can Eliminate Deficiencies with More Accurate Attribution Tracking

By David Metter

Through endless digital and traditional channels, consumer influence is happening both consciously and subconsciously as they navigate along a digital roadmap equipped with double-digit research touch points that follow no predictable path or straight line. This new age buying behavior makes attributing a sale to one source almost impossible. While new and developing channels provide marketers with an abundant assortment of avenues to reach potential customers, the challenge of measuring the return on your investment is becoming increasingly complex.

“Big data” is a widespread term used relentlessly in digital marketing across all verticals. But the question remains, how can we properly leverage big data to attribute a single sale to a single action? And is it possible to attribute one sale to one source within the surplus of information available today?

Let’s first properly define attribution. According to Forbes, “Attribution is the science of using advanced analytics to allocate proportional credit to each marketing touch point across all online and offline channels, leading to a desired customer action.” MarketShare defines it as “giving credit where credit is due.” To simplify even further, attribution is who or what takes credit for a sale.

For auto dealers, attribution is synonymous with the conduit that led the customer from screen, to search, to showroom. Attributing a sale or a lead translates to knowing exactly where it came from, how it came to you, and why. The problem with digital marketing is that this process can be very challenging as there is no conventional path to follow when it comes to tracking online (and offline) actions today. Attribution defines which elements of your marketing compounds will result in a reaction, or which will ultimately prove to be effective.

There is a reason Amazon is the #1 online retailer. The master of digital merchandising has the most straightforward attribution chain in the business - consisting of three steps: a search, a click, and a buy.

On the contrary, there is no such thing as the “search-click-buy” method in the automotive industry. The question of the moment is could there be, and how do we turn that possibility into a measurable science? The reality is, well below 5% of the total buyers in the market behave in a direct, attributable fashion. Therefore, dealers and manufacturers must focus on the 95% of buyers that have to physically visit the showroom to purchase a vehicle and really drill down to determine their personal, unique path to purchase. But dealers are not dentists, and drills are not a part of the standard dealership sales toolbox.

According to a Dataium study, “One-third of autos purchased today are a direct outcome of internet-generated leads.” Lead conversion must be measured at the dealership level. More importantly, measuring attribution, or the accountability of a sale is of growing importance as more and more media and social networks adapt to a paid advertising model.

Tips to Overcome Attribution Hurdles:

1.     Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Customize your messaging based on a user’s previous actions and their digital footprint. The smartphone is regarded as the most intimate device ever. Therefore our marketing must follow suit and get personal. Custom-built, targeted messages elicit fiercer impacts. Consumers not only want personalized messages, but they now expect them, and respond better when marketing tactics convey a dynamically tailored message.

2.     Implement a streamlined form-fill process on all devices in conjunction with industry-leading responsive design. Evolving technologies have arrived that allow geo-targeting on mobile devices that currently provide dealers with a first ever, “showrooming” solution that is, you guessed it…100% measurable!

3.     The consumer experience plays a significant role in the attribution process. When considering the experience, focus on the variables that include specific IP addresses, number of page views before an initial offer or incentive is provided, and closing the loop with re-engagement and retargeting practices.

4.     Attribution can be more accurately measured when conversion is streamlined via e-mail or text message delivery. When the consumer data is captured during an incentive redemption during a showroom visit, we can then know without a shadow of a doubt which channel led the buyer to your lot. When you offer something valuable in return for a consumer’s personal information, the probability of them completing the form drastically escalates.

It’s crucial we all take a moment to step back and put aside all the math and the logic. At the end of the day, there is a simple method to the madness. Waiting until a customer physically shows up in your showroom to collect their information enables you to collect more information (and more accurate information) than you ever could from a typical dealer lead form. This is simple quid pro quo; you have to give something to get something. We have to think differently in order to capture the information we need to make smarter budgeting decisions.

To learn more tips towards solving the attribution confusion please check out our attribution whitepaper, “Automotive Attribution: Fundamentals and Future.” 

 

3 Ways to Avoid Mobile Marketing Mayhem

By David Metter

The accelerating rate of mobile usage is not a trend. It’s certainly not going out of style. Mobile best practices need to be hard coded in the DNA of every brand, dealer, and marketer – guiding your digital strategy from this very micro-moment on. No longer is mobile marketing a segment or part of your approach, but rather it should dominate your approach, and that’s huge.

We’ve been watching consumer behavior in the retail segment for years. The Automotive industry is following in the tracks of larger retailers like Target, Home Depot, and of course, Amazon. This mobile-driven shopping behavior is rapidly translating from buying a T.V. at Best Buy to purchasing a vehicle at a dealership. “Showrooming,” or shopping on other dealer’s sites on a mobile device while physically at a dealership is an increasing problem that needs to be handled proactively. If consumers are going to compare prices on their smartphones for a $20 item or an $800 item, the probability is even stronger that they’ll do the same for a $40,000-$50,000 item while on a dealer’s lot.

We’ve been in the space long enough to know that with all up-and-coming technologies come growing pains. The following are the top three ways to own mobile and avoid the problems that other marketers have faced.

1. Ensure You Have Access to Accurate, Real-Time Attribution Reporting: According to AdRoll’s State of the Industry, 41% of U.S. marketers said the lack of attribution transparency was one of the biggest, if not the biggest challenge of mobile advertising today. The ultimate goal for dealers and OEMs is to choose a vendor that has the ability to attribute every sale and every showroom visit to a single campaign at nearly 100% effectiveness, regardless of the device or media channel that led them to you.

Leverage technology that knows the exact coordinates of every franchise dealership in the country, so you can pinpoint the exact location of a customer at a nearby competitor. You can then target with highly specific and dynamic messaging, giving you the control to conquest other brands and more importantly, protect your own backyard. Dealers cannot possibly do this by themselves. Unite technology with intelligent data that executes well and has the attribution reporting to prove it.

2. Eliminate Extra Steps: Digital marketing can get complicated when you break down all the moving pieces that make up a comprehensive, synergetic strategy. With mobile, it’s actually quite simple. Think of a single goal your mobile campaign must accomplish. For most, it should be to get a buyer into your showroom. Then, map out the easiest, most straightforward route to get there. The less pages, forms, and steps your audience has to navigate through, the higher the chances of conversion.

According to eMarketer, over one-third of advertisers say users or consumers not converting on mobile is yet another challenge. Friction is the enemy here. If a customer gets “stuck” either waiting for a page to load or navigating through irrelevant content they will move on faster than you can say Ferrari. Always put both speed and simplicity into play when it comes to increasing conversion rates on mobile. Focus on one goal, one call to action, and one destination – your dealership.

3. Zero-In on Buyers: Through location and behavioral targeting, we can build a consumer profile that offers great insight into who is in-market and ready to make a purchase, and who is still in the research phase of buying a car. 90% of consumers leave their location services enabled. Google advises marketers to take advantage of these built-in GPS systems. In addition, “61% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from mobile sites and apps that customize information to their location.”

At the end of the day, great marketing is really about one thing; and that’s relating to people. With all the information, analytics and tools available to us, we’ve perhaps created an overly complicated, multi-faceted, omnichannel approach of simply trying to relate to people. The evolution of mobile is much more simplistic than that. It’s just about connecting with people on another level (that happens to be in their pocket, purse, or in their hands roughly 99% of the time).

Mobile usage rates have already exceeded desktop. Try not to blink, because before you know it, over 90% of showroom traffic will be attributable to a mobile device. So rather than being reactive, you better be there, and be ready.

Click here to read the new Mobile eBook, Auto Dealers and the State of Mobile Marketing 2016.

The Mobile Tipping Point

By David Metter

For those of you who have never heard of the phrase tipping point, there are a lot of variations in terms of a definition - depending on who’s asking. To physicists, the tipping point is when an object gains enough nuclear material to sustain a chain reaction at a constant rate. To computing geeks/experts, “The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.” To a “car guy” it could be when a customer walks into your showroom five minutes before closing time on a Saturday. We have all had a few of those. According to TechTarget, marketers define the tipping point as “a threshold that, once reached, will result in additional sales.”

No matter how you look at it, the concept is so profound that it will forever define the current state of mobile marketing in both the physical and digital automotive worlds. One of the reasons mobile has caused such upheaval in our society is because both smartphones and tablets are so incredibly personal to each individual user. In fact, Tune dictates the smartphone as the single most personal device, ever. “Because of that, it is the everything device: the communicating, the gaming, the learning, the buying, the reading, the watching, the tracking, the remote controlling device.”

Consumers are now spending more time playing on these intelligent little microcomputers than they spend watching television. In a recent eBook from Tune Marketing, they provide insights into the international mobile economy, showing mobile usage trends to be nearly equivalent in most countries. Globally, in 2015 alone, 800 million people bought their first smartphone. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 6.5 billion smartphone users. That’s 6.5 billion people to market to. It’s also 6.5 billion opportunities to make a connection, or 6.5 billion chances to get buried in mobile white noise – depending on how you look at it.

The mobile tipping point is not just starting to make its way through the airwaves. It has arrived, and I cannot stress that enough. These short but abundant interactions are what Google refers to as “Micro-Moments.” Mobile touch points in the consumer’s journey have become so powerful, that they will actually interrupt a person from following through with a given task. Google says 91% of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas right in the middle of a task. Talk about a distracted generation!

Mobile has become a tipping point because it has the power to claim our attention at any given time and place. Mobile takes no mercy, and it doesn’t apologize for being rude when it interrupts your dinner, your date, your family time, or your purchase decisions.

The most important fact to remember is that while mobile usage is continuously increasing, the time consumers spend during each micro-moment is actually decreasing, meaning your chances of making an impact are smaller, and your window of opportunity is much shorter.

During this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, Google leveraged Adometry TV Attribution technology and found 82% of game-driven ad searches were to no one’s surprise, conducted on a mobile device (a 12% increase since last year’s game). Furthermore, out of the ten brands that drove the highest search volumes, five of them were either OEMs or vehicle brands – so as an industry, we have to be doing something right!

There’s no denying it. Mobile has forever changed the way marketers interact and reach consumers. We’re all slaves to it. The swiping, the scrolling, the click-to-call-ing, the convenience. In so many ways the mobile experience dictates not only where our marketing should be, but also the entire advancement of communication as we know it. My friends, the mobile tipping point is here.  

Check out our Mobile eBook for more ways to master mobile in the year ahead. 

The Mobile State of the Union: How Does the Automotive Industry Compare?

By David Metter

Our industry is synonymous with innovation, better yet – I believe the automotive industry defines both innovation and opportunity. Yet, everything is relative. Coming from a company that serviced the retail, hospitality and travel industries (in addition to automotive), I know firsthand that their mobile marketing is about two to three years ahead of our industry. I also know that dealerships have never been afraid of a little competition.

As the largest subcategory of retail, we need to find a way to get back in the driver’s seat of the mobile disruption. We cannot let other verticals trump our user experiences and outperform our mobile campaigns.

If you are sick and tired of hearing about mobile…get over it right now. According to a recent article from Google, mobile search volumes have officially surpassed desktop searches. Mobile is snowballing at an unprecedented rate, so much so that mobile usage statistics are increasing in almost real-time.

If I could give one theme to mobile marketing it would be immediacy. Google simplifies this in three steps: be there, be useful, and be quick. If you can accomplish these things, you will win the customers you target. There are some scary (and I mean scary) stats out there to help this set in:

·      87% of Millennials have their smartphone at their side (more or less attached to their body) day and night

·      We check our phones 150 times a day

·      We spend 177 minutes on our phones per day

·      Each mobile session averages only 1 minute and 10 seconds, but dozens and dozens of times per day

- Google’s Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile

If you think that you’re ahead of the game because you have a totally responsive website, think again. This is only the first step. The second is delivering an ideal experience to your mobile audience, and a responsive site alone does not ensure a seamless, swipe-oriented, visually compelling, easy and fast interaction.

“The main issue with user experience is that on the desktop you can have some complexity, but on a mobile device the interface and experience must be about simplicity,” says Alan Krutsch, Director of Marketing and eCommerce at Apple Autos. “The mobile user must be able to find things quickly and perform functions easily.”

Even older generations report feeling “naked” if they don’t have their phone with them. Dealers should feel equally naked if their mobile strategy is lagging in comparison to other retailers. “Target and Walmart are examples of stores that do really well driving people to their locations with specific offers,” said Ray Green, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Verve Mobile. “Using a mobile ad platform, they are able to target different customers at different times, with different messages, based on those customers’ individual behaviors and locations.”

There are some key trends on the horizon to focus on over the next year to stay relevant across the screens, and in the hands of in-market shoppers. Start implementing mobile strategies that involve beacons, mobile wallets, and big-data generated customer profiles. Click links to learn more about each.

Let’s think back to 2002, when dealers started posting inventory on their websites. Many were outraged and swore to never, ever post their cars, let alone their prices online. Today, that has changed. I am confident that the evolution of mobile will override the eruption of the Internet and more importantly, resisting this trend will be detrimental to your business. Also remember you are not alone. We as an industry can, and will, come together to help each other, as we cannot let retail and travel out-innovate the pioneers of innovation!