It is estimated that about 2.8 million new car sales this year will come from customers utilizing mobile technology during the car-shopping process. What’s even more astounding—consider that just a few short years ago this number was less than half that total.
According to Forrester Research in The Wall Street Journal, between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of U.S. adults who accessed the internet on a daily basis from PCs grew from 54 to 62 percent. During that same time, mobile internet users shot up from four percent to 26 percent.
Looking ahead, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on Earth. According to Cisco’s Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, it is expected that there will be over 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, exceeding the world’s population of 7.3 billion.
Mobile technology is changing the way customers shop, just as the internet enabled more engagement and greater transparency years ago. There’s a good chance that as many as 50 percent of you are reading this article on a mobile device. Simply put, if you can’t live without your smartphone, why would you force your customers to live without one?
“Compared to our website traffic, mobile was just about 10 percent two years ago. Today I would put that number at about 30 percent, and growing fast,” said Rick Trinkl vice president of training at the Larry H. Miller Company. “Because of this growth, it’s been a priority to push our web providers to build more functionality and opportunities to engage customers on mobile devices.”
But, the movement to mobile must be done the right way; otherwise dealers will simply be left with a smartphone version of their existing website. The problem that dealers face when they try to integrate an effective mobile strategy is that they view mobile as an extension of their website. Customers expect a different experience on their mobile device compared to a traditional website. Most notably, they want simplicity and ease of use with mobile. Customers also want more transparency during the shopping process, and the right mobile strategy helps accomplish increased transparency.
It is important for dealers to ask themselves what they want to accomplish with their mobile strategy. If the strategy is all about engagement, then it’s important to implement applications that are focused toward inventory, price quotes/trade appraisals, “click to call”, and service.
Dealers should conduct an audit of what their current mobile experience looks like. Start by asking if the mobile experience simply mirrors the online website. Does it feel like a one-size-fits-all approach? How does it tie into your branding and marketing efforts? How does it set you apart? And, are you using the special phone technologies effectively? Functions like use of location services, live “clickable” phone numbers, interactive mapping, and home screen bookmarking of your site are ways to leverage common phone functions. Live links to your Facebook and Twitter can build engagement and repeat use.
“We started by asking our web provider for their recommendations on best practices. Then we began adding the features we thought customers would appreciate”, added Trinkl.
Here are several applications every dealer should have when launching a mobile offering for customers:
Enables customers to quickly find vehicles which are immediately available at the dealership.
Enables customers to easily check the price on vehicles they have in mind as possibilities.
Enables customers to find out how much their vehicle is worth, giving them a sense of how much money they can put toward a new purchase.
Virtually everyone uses their mobile device to find destinations. This allows local customers to easily find your dealership.
Click to call
Use the phone function to make the number on screen live and clickable, and be sure to track inbound activity. Make it your goal to capture the customer name as a lead for the CRM system.
Enables customers to use mobile not only to schedule service, but also to check the status of repairs via their mobile device.
These mobile applications should be seamlessly integrated into all back-end operations, including customer relationship management and BDC operations, with trackable metrics accessed by management from anywhere. It wasn’t that long ago that websites were the next big thing. Today, history is quickly repeating itself, and with the world turning mobile it’s extremely critical for dealers to have the right mobile presence that will lead them into the future.
Mike McFall is president of Black Book Online, a leading provider of mobile solutions that generate the most effective sales leads for the automotive industry. Black Book Online’s Activator Complete&™ provides shoppers with an instant and accurate credit score estimate along with trade-in value range. Visit www.blackbookonline.com for more information.0