Mobile websites are so 2009! It’s all about mobile apps for 2012, and your dealership would be smart to focus on mobile marketing efforts. Consider this—eight in ten Americans own a cell phone of some kind, one-third own a smart phone1, and the use of apps is exploding with half a billion mobile applications downloaded in just one week between Christmas and New Years Day across the United States.2
The reality is, in 2012 consumers will be spending more and more time accessing information on the go via apps. That’s why dealers should keep up with, and be in front of, the latest developments in mobile marketing, which means having a mobile app for your dealership. Dealership apps in the years to come, we predict, will be just as important (if not more so) as a website presence is today.
The fact is, apps can be even better for your brand than a mobile website, because they provide a richer consumer experience and offer far more features. And, because apps reside right on their mobile devices, consumers no longer have to fumble around for URLs. Apps can also send alerts right to that device—creating a super convenient channel for customer communication.
So, need a great resolution for 2012? Get an app, but not just any app. Here are some best practices to consider as you develop your dealership’s custom app:
1. Protect your brand.
Dealer groups should have one mobile app strategy, not one app per store! You’re investing tons of money in your dealership’s brand and your mobile app strategy should leverage that investment by providing a single app that allows the consumer to find each of your rooftops, while also consolidating inventory across your stores.
2. Mobile apps are all about being insanely useful.
Consumers will use your app more often if it gives them easy access to a wide range of practical and clever tools. Make sure your app offers cool features such as a car locator, parking meter expiration reminders, gas station locators with local gas prices, a flashlight, etc. There is a wealth of great options to choose from as you build your app.
3. Useful tools are key, but it’s still about selling and servicing cars.
Don’t create a mobile app just to have one. The vehicle shopping and service experience on a mobile device should be as rich as, or richer, than on a website. Your app must provide up-to-date new and used vehicle inventory listings with detailed vehicle information and pictures. To increase retention and service appointments, make sure it automatically provides your customers with an updated vehicle service history, offers service specials and coupons, and makes it easy to schedule service appointments on the go.
4. Apple is great…but so is Android.
Your mobile app strategy needs to be about ubiquitous presence; get on as many devices as you can, Apple and Android devices in particular.
5. Keep mobile content fresh, especially dealership offers and alerts.
Apps are an icon on your customer’s mobile device, which means your dealership gets great screen “real estate,” but if you don’t give your customers fresh information and compelling reasons to open your app frequently, the app will soon end up deleted.
6. Promote your mobile app in all communication channels.
There are over 500,000 apps on the Apple App Store and over 400,000 on the Android Market. Consumers won’t just happen to find your app, unless you tell them about it.
Mike Martinez owns brand and product marketing as chief marketing officer for DME Automotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing. For more information please visit www.dmeautomotive.com or email [email protected].
2Source: Flurry Analytics, Jan 2, 2012 – Holiday 2011: Breaking the One Billion App Download Barrier
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