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
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!
By David Metter
Most of the time the goal of a dealership's advertising is to reach car shoppers and convince them to visit your store. But what about the customers who are already in your dealership? You're probably thinking there's no need to advertise to them. If they're in your showroom, there's a pretty good chance you can close them. And you're right - unless one of your competitors makes them an offer they can't refuse, while the customer is standing right in front of you.
By now you've probably heard of geofencing as a mobile marketing strategy that can be used to lure customers out of a competitor's dealership and into your dealership. It works like this: Jane walks into Smith Chevrolet and immediately gets a push notification (or text, or email, or sees a banner ad) on her smartphone.
The notification informs Jane that Brown Chevrolet down the street has a lease special on a car she's interested in for only $159/month. Jane sees the special and is excited because that price is well below her monthly car payment budget of $200. She decides to go to Brown Chevrolet to check it out. After all, she can always come back to Smith Chevrolet later.
But of course, we know that once Jane leaves Smith Chevrolet, "later" is highly likely to turn into never.
How can you prevent this from happening? The simplest way is to create your own geofencing strategy so that when Jane arrives on your lot, she gets a push notification (or text, or email, or sees a banner ad) from your dealership.
Now, instead of seeing information about your competitor's lease special, Jane sees an offer for a $25 gift card if she takes a test drive right now at your dealership. She thinks, “Wow, how awesome is that?" Or, you send Jane a push notification of your own, informing her about a lease special or a free service maintenance contract with a purchase.
You may not get a lot of click-throughs or actions on these notifications and ads; more likely the customer will mention the offer to a salesperson. But you are making sure that when a customer is using a mobile app or browsing with their mobile device in your dealership, that your dealership brand is going to be there - and more importantly, that your competition is not going to be there.
How much is it worth to you to keep a customer in your showroom, actively engaged with a salesperson? You can bet your competitor is offering a compelling incentive along with a call-to-action. When you're protecting your turf, your ad messaging should be just as aggressive.
It's a good idea to thank your customers and let them know you appreciate their business. As a token of your appreciation, offer a gift card, freebie with purchase, or show competitive pricing information.
This strategy accomplishes two things: it prevents similar offers being shown to the customer from other dealerships, and reinforces in the customer's mind that they have made the right choice in coming to your dealership. Everybody likes to feel appreciated.
This type of geofencing strategy is also very economical. The perimeter around your store doesn't have to be large to be effective; in fact, smaller is better. Messages and ads are typically paid on a cost per thousand basis, so for a small monthly budget you can protect your turf and send your competition a message they'll hear loud and clear - they won't be poaching customers in your backyard!
Our marketing universe is quickly becoming untethered as smartphones and tablets gain a broader share of web access to information and entertainment. The mobile marketing world is still new to many dealers and we’re experiencing a learning curve about how to market, manage, and leverage this new landscape. Here are 6 Quick Info Insights to help dealers get a quick course in Mobile 101.
1. Mobile is Exploding
29% of web traffic page views are from mobile phones and tablets, and 71% from desktop or laptop computers. Remember, smartphones are just mini-computers and shoppers are using them to obtain information on product availability via a streamlined process. Photos, videos, and pricing info need to be easily accessible on mobile platforms. Dealership window stickers offering QR or Barcodes that provide more information than is shown on vehicle stickers helps connect shoppers to the dealership and provides a way for dealers to track these prospects.
With mobile users spending more than two hours a day on their devices, dealers have ample opportunities to connect with and advertise to these consumers and potential buyers. Remember, these mobile viewers are down the funnel in their car buying decision-making. Make sure that you are prepared to convert them.
The rule for mobile: Make it simple for shoppers to connect with auto dealership team members, either via an instant call process or text messaging.
2. What your Competition is doing in the Mobile Space
Dealers who have been operating in the mobile space for a while have focused on text messaging as a primary way to engage mobile shoppers. The response time is quicker, and more users (68%+) use text messaging regularly on their cell phones.
Dealers in the digital ad space still purchase keywords, and Google, Yahoo and other network mobile ads are also gaining traction. This is helping to establish brands and drive traffic to dealership sites. Ads on social media channels are also gaining traction. However, it’s important to have a laser focus on the ad and not a generic vehicle ad with a payment. Promote a specific event and offer a “call to action” or incentive to drive more traffic from ads.
3. Mobile website or App: The choice is Yours
This is not an either/or proposition, as you can have both a mobile-friendly website and an app. With fast 3G or 4G data networks both sites or apps work fine. Since many mobile users delete “one-time shopping” apps after the task is completed, a dealership app should provide other functionality for the customer after a purchase is completed. This could mean offering online service appointment scheduling, coupon updates and offers, etc.
Virtually all the major website providers offer mobile solutions that meet the needs of the dealership and online shoppers. Navigation on smartphones should be simple and provide visitors with an easy “click to call” button to contact sales or service teams, view inventory, or get simple directions.
When considering building an “app,” remember developers have to create three separate apps for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users. In addition to the cost of app development consider the changing platforms, required tech upgrades to accommodate changes in the various operating systems, and the cost of a project manager on the team to guide all these initiatives.
4. Social Media Channels Drive Mobile Traffic
154 million Americans are active monthly on social channels using mobile devices. And through these social channels consumers are finding their way to businesses where they buy products and services.
Every social channel offers ad programs and content posting opportunities where you can engage channel members. Connecting with auto shoppers by posting videos, service advice and tips, updates on parts and accessories, is a great way to drive more showroom traffic and generate calls to the dealership. Be a good neighbor. Nothing turns a potential customer off more than having a load of ads shoved their way on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. When you provide value, prospects and customers recognize and appreciate those efforts, and very often they will share that content with their online friends.
5. Track Mobile Conversion Rates
Tracking conversion rates in auto retail means measuring how many visitors generated a lead, a sale, or further in-depth visits to the site. You can track when a mobile visitor uses the click-to-call or text feature from within the mobile site. And, once that info is in the CRM system, that prospect can be tracked to the end of engagement. It’s also important to have detailed analytics for both the traditional and mobile websites to measure visits, page views and of course vehicle detail page (VDP) visits. Many companies use Google Analytics. But if you do not want “big brother” watching, you might want to consider Clicky Web Analytics (getclicky.com), or the free W3 Counter Analytics (w3counter.com).
6. Use Incentives on Mobile Devices to Close the Sale
No matter how a shopper finds a dealership, consumers still respond to calls to action and incentives when considering or making buying decisions. Be prepared and offer an incentive when a prospect is on the fence and deciding to visit your dealership versus dealership B.
Coupons can easily be pushed to smartphones, tablets, and PCs offering gift cards, rebates, discounts, or other value added items. Give your sales team an edge to closing the sale with an attractive incentive for your customers.