It is possible for dealers to supercharge their mobile marketing with a sharp focus on fundamentals, as well as implementing proven strategies to further leverage this potential. There are dealers right now that sell more cars with mobile innovation.
Mobile devices continue to grow in importance, especially for car dealers. Even dealers in remote areas have mobile penetration above 50 percent, and some markets are as much as 70. A Hitwise Internet study last spring showed that 60 percent of all web searches are on mobile devices, with the auto industry at 62 percent. It’s also important for dealers to understand that mobile is NOT replacing desktops. According to a Cox Automotive study last year, nearly half of all shoppers used multiple devices, and only 14 percent used mobile exclusively. The lesson here is to keep your message consistent across all devices AND channels, both digital and traditional.
Effective Mobile Advertising
All ad content should be designed mobile-friendly. There are five critical areas to address with mobile ads.
- Color – Strong, contrasting colors are ideal, and they should contrast well with the rest of the website, especially the call to action button.
- Text – Should be less than eight words and be displayed with crisp fonts that are easy to read.
- Call-to-action – A strong CTA is a MUST! It should not only click through to your site, but ACCURATELY tell the shopper what to expect, whether it’s a lease special, service promotion, or other incentive – and not land on the homepage. The bottom right is the ideal location.
- Imagery – Keep it simple. Simple graphics with your branding is best.
- File size – Small and fast is the rule here. Don’t forget page-load speeds affect organic Google search page rankings.
- Cohesion – Be sure the ad relates to the target audience, and be sure the CTA button lands on a relevant page.
Other mobile ad tidbits that are important include mobile first indexing, focus on key ad sizes, and native mobile types. One final note for mobile ads is to be sure to understand their placement and audience targeting. Even if you have a third-party vendor handling this for your store, it important to keep a close watch on the strategy, response, and KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators – and ROI from sold units.
Embrace social media
With Americans spending 40 minutes a day or more on social sites, dealers need to do more with social media than just have the receptionist post a few event photos and new car specials. Social media must be an integral part of the store’s marketing strategy. As with mobile ads, there are several ways to reach in-market and potential buyers. With Facebook alone, there are dozens of ways to target ads to parameters like life events, interests, location, and demographics. Beyond these basics, dealers can target their current owners or prospects by uploading an email list, then it’s possible to choose a ‘Lookalike’ audience for targeting, as well.
Another way for dealers to extend their reach – and effectiveness – on social sites is to partner with employees. Each dealer is going to have different legal and management views regarding how employees use social media as it relates to work. But there are stores and individual salespeople across the country who enjoy great success building relationships online as a supplement to basic sales and prospecting habits.
Social media is about people, so the more dealerships have staff who grow social site friendships with customers and prospects, the greater potential to connect with them as buyers. There are two important facets of this strategy. Firsts, the posts must be about people; photos and videos of events that are also shared on the dealer’s site are very powerful. And second, social media shouldn’t beat friends and followers up by hammering them with a hard sales pitch dozens of inventory photos. The more value to the follower, the more engagement potential there is.
What’s working outside the car industry?
Even though the auto industry has become very proactive targeting mobile shoppers, there is ever-changing trend information from other retail channels that can be valuable to dealers. For instance, 90 percent of all email that’s opened from marketing campaigns gets opened is on mobile devices. There can be great value to use the dealership CRM on mobile for staff to stay close to customers, and other critical benefits like quicker deal processes by scanning VINs, more consistent follow up, and safeguarding CSI.
Live chat and text on the dealer website can boost business for each department if it’s well-executed either in-house or by a vendor. Loyalty programs are another application with which outside industries connect with current and future customers. Surprisingly, many businesses had fun with their customers during the very brief Pokémon Go craze. Looking for these micro-bursts of opportunity can set your store apart on mobile and everyone can have a little fun at the same time.
Dealers have the resources available today to capitalize on the great potential that mobile marketing offers to help sell more cars. But a clear strategy must be in place to leverage mobile devices for business growth in sales, service, and parts departments.
Author: Tom LaPointe & Brent Durham
Tom LaPointe is a dynamic presenter who started out building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90’s. Tom’s diverse background includes more than a decade of dealership internet experience, as well as marketing work in the military and academia. His high-energy style and background in retail make him uniquely qualified to help dealers understand the potential of digital marketing tools. An accomplished magazine writer, Tom is also the author of “Modern Sport Cars” and contributor in two “Chicken Soup for the Soul” editions. Tom has worked as a manager in both the sales and service departments, and has been a part of the CarChat24 team for more than four years, where he handles marketing and social media. He has a master’s degree in marketing, and extensive digital marketing experience.
A consummate student of the industry, Brent Durham basically grew up in dealerships and has touched almost every role. He understands the importance of lean operations and is obsessed with ensuring dealer advertising brings the highest ROI and the lowest amount of waste. Brent serves as Preston Automotive Group’s Digital Marketing Director and is actively involved in the day to day marketing operations at the dealer level. In addition, he holds a key position in dealership-owned iFrog Digital Marketing, where he serves as COO and is the driving force for all digital marketing strategies for clients.