One of the most significant trends occurring right now, not just in the auto industry but across many industries around the globe is the widespread shift towards mobile computing, and in particular shopping via mobile.
You can see it in the data when you do your research. You hear it at conferences you attend. You see when you watch peoples’ presentations. You see it with those around you, and most likely you see it in your own behavior as it too is shifting towards mobile.
This natural evolution of how we access the Internet and communicate has been prophesied in sci-fi stories for decades. The “future” that we have always anticipated really is here and it is drastically affecting each of us in how we live, shop, share, and conduct business.
Evidence of this trend was revealed this Fall during conference season when Dataium co-founder Jason Ezell shared slide #20 of his presentation deck called “Betting on Your Future Business Using Predictive Analysis”. In this presentation you see that the trend towards mobile began around April 2011 and that it shows no sign of leveling off or declining. Logically, why would it?
There is also evidence of this in the data that was accumulated by Shopper Sciences while performing the now infamous Google ZMOT study. In their research, mobile use, while not yet a leading stimulus or communication source for auto shopping is clearly a growing trend that experts do not disagree is on track to be so by the end of 2012.
The significance of this information was supported at this year’s JD Power Automotive Internet Roundtable (#JDPAIRT) where Tier I organizations participated in numerous sessions and breakouts on the subject, and industry vendors are scrambling to respond to this quickly growing need.
The question for me isn’t whether mobile will be embraced by auto dealers, but how will it be embraced and will it be implemented effectively.
Early on, that is the past couple of years, the most effective way for dealers to utilize mobile marketing was by sending coupon and specials alerts via SMS. But now, people are being inundated with specials and savings on their mobile phone, so it is likely that the game will have to change.
Some companies, like AutoMotion TV for instance, are banking on people embracing the dealership experience by installing a mobile app for the dealership. I personally am skeptical that this use of technology will be accepted by people, but the mobile app provider has proven success with auto dealerships that you can read about on their site.
The philosophy behind AutoMotion TV’s dealer apps is to make them part of the shopping experience and to communicate with them via push messaging. Most mobile apps I have seen offered by automotive website providers fall short on the vehicle and inventory front, with limited or minimal ability to experience virtual vehicle tours or browse inventory with rich media. This is one are where AutoMotion TV stands out.
More importantly is AutoMotion TV’s push messaging, which is their ability to send messages to users via SMS that have their dealer apps installed. The question is, what is the right information to push? Is it coupons and special offers? Is it service reminders? Or maybe it’s more engaging content such as questions, surveys, polls, or even contests?
These are all important things to consider. There is no doubt you want to have a mobile strategy. In my opinion I would be less concerned with what and how you do it and more concerned with just doing it. From this you will find what works best for you, your team, and most importantly for your customers.