The old Yellow Pages slogan, “Let your fingers do the walking,” has taken on an all-new meaning with the saturation of personal mobile devices into the marketing arena. Gone are the days of catalog orders or grabbing the Yellow Pages to find a dealership nearby. Fast forward to the new millennium where technology allows us to ‘connect’ with the world at the touch of a finger. Staggering statistics indicate that there are 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions globally. That translates to nearly as many cell phones, as there are people in the world! (I don’t think Ma Bell had a clue what the catchy slogan “reach out and touch someone” would evolve into.)
Mobile devices create a dynamically different marketing platform, because they constitute a 24/7 marketing medium that travels with you everywhere you go, in your pocket by day and on the bed stand by night. Let’s face it. The world has gone mobile! More people will be accessing the internet from their cell phones than from their desktops. With 320 million US mobile users turning to their smartphone devices for technology, automotive dealers are learning the need to embrace the full impact and potential of utilizing the mobile platform for advertising and connecting with consumers.
Numerous studies support the fact that automotive dealers need to establish a mobile presence with their customers. According to a mobile ad platform case study, 80 percent of individuals planning to purchase a vehicle in the next year will use a mobile device during the purchase cycle. Google Services reports that 94 percent of smart phone users already utilize their devices to search for local information and 84 percent of those have taken action as a result. The reality is that the domination of the mobile platform is changing every aspect of both the consumer’s life and the retailer's as well. Retailers need to meet their customers where they are, or miss opportunities. The issue for car dealers is how to best leverage and integrate mobile technology into their marketing strategy.
Add to the equation that 82 percent of mobile media time is via apps. The future of customer interaction is going to come in the form of apps—compact software downloaded to the smartphone that act as portals to perform specific tasks, and are easily accessible with the touch of a finger. Studies show that the growth rate of app usage has rocketed up 92 percent over the past four years to an estimated 50 billion downloads in 2012. Analysis of app usage on smartphones and tablets confirm that app usage dominates browser usage. The key question for dealers seems to be how to capitalize on this phenomenon, including whether to develop and create customized dealership-specific apps for their customers. Customized dealer apps allow customers to call any department, get a quote, schedule a service appoint, check inventory, or get directions all with a single touch.
Bottom line is that smartphones are our new BFFs, and the most powerful portal for dealers to connect with their customers. Mobile ad spend or mobile apps…they seem inevitable to stay connected in the mobile arena. Whatever you decide, do your research. Put your mobile strategy and all your marketing solutions on a solid foundation with a credible, leading industry marketing and technology expert.
Smartphones are creating smart dealers.
Michael Wynns is the president of Automotive Resource Partners, a marketing and consulting company that manages the sales and marketing efforts for 14 industry leading technology companies.