Ben: Welcome to another installment of the AutoMotionTV Mobile Marketing series. This week I’m joined by April Rain, head of Digital Development at Cuneo Advertising. April, thanks for taking a minute of your time today.
April: Thanks so much for having me Ben.
Ben: We’re here to talk mobile and we’re here to talk mobile specifically for dealers. Let’s jump right into it. In a broad sense what have you seen in a sense as far as trends go with mobile marketing and the dealership market?
April: As an advertising agency it’s really important that for our automotive clients they have a really good representation both online and offline. For online that’s now including mobile. We are starting to see such a huge trend of mobile marketing that’s gone up over fifty percent since 2009 to 2011 so if we don’t have really good branding there then we are going to miss that opportunity to get our customers. It’s essential for every dealer to have a mobile website just when people are out and about. Think about that Saturday shopper and they’re going from place to place and they’re trying to think where they are going to connect with a dealer. If you’re not easy for them to get a hold of they’re just going to go right by you. It’s a must that all of our dealers at least at a minimum have a mobile website.
Ben: Let’s dig a little deeper and specifically into dealerships themselves. What have you seen in dealers’ experience when it comes to mobile-based traffic for their websites or things related?
April: One of our biggest customers is Carsoup.com. They are also our sister company. We launched a mobile site for them earlier this year. Pretty much every month they have grown about thirty to thirty-five percent for traffic and we see the same trends that people that look for online they look at the same page views so their traffic is relatively the same as it is on our full-blown site. Surprisingly, we actually don’t get that many bounces from the mobile site. They stay within the mobile site. They don’t choose to leave to go to the full site. Additionally, we’ve seen probably about eight percent of our total traffic is mobile traffic. You would have to say one out of every ten buyers is looking on their cell phone to find a car – that’s pretty big numbers.
Ben: That’s interesting you know as we talk to dealers on a weekly basis we are seeing the exact same trends. So I’d say ten to fifteen sometimes even twenty percent of all traffic some of our dealers are reporting are coming from mobile-based devices. What I think is key is the same type of numbers even twelve months ago were one, two, even three percent and so they’ve jumped up that much. Who knows what the next twelve months will bring. Next question: when should dealers consider a mobile marketing strategy? Should they jump in right now? Is there certain metrics they should look for? What are your thoughts on that?
April: Being that it’s an extremely affordable and an easy thing to do I absolutely say right now. Even if you feel like your consumers are not the people that are shopping on their mobile or smart phones you want to make sure you get in early because having a good accessibility for people that are out and about has become essential. Think about Google Maps and Places. You just really need to make sure you’re easily found. Most of your website providers easily offer a mobile solution and if not then it’s really east to get apps and find other areas that you’re present.
Ben: That makes sense. Let’s jump and switch topics here into Ignite Dealer Summit. Now Ignite Dealer Summit – I see a big smile on your face – is coming up September 7th. It’s an event you’re obviously very much involved with. Give us a quick synopsis of what Ignite Dealer Summit is.
April: Yeah, you’re right actually I’m very extremely excited about Ignite. Ignite is going to be pretty much the biggest automotive event in the Midwest this year. If you see a lot of dealers they don’t have time to leave their dealership for national events for three, four days. It’s very expensive and it takes a lot. They maybe send one or two guys and all those eggs are in that basket for that guy to really bring all that information back to the dealership. We wanted to create an event that GM’s, owners, internet managers – anybody could come to and really get a good grasp on what’s new and hot in the automotive industry. Particularly, when it comes to digital, mobile marketing, and online sales. What I’ve done is I’ve brought pretty much twenty of the best of the industry experts to speak and have over twenty workshops, demonstrations, breakfast, lunch, and of course cocktailing to make sure you get to network with some of these top-level industry people so we’re really excited about it!
Ben: Let me put you on the spot here. What specifically have you done around mobile in promoting Ignite Dealer Summit?
April: It’s funny all day long I manage other client’s budgets and I’m always having to tell them what’s the best use of their money. Once I have my own product to be bale to market you realize how that money goes quickly. Online marketing was actually the easiest way and the most affordable way for us to get really good frequency and reach out to dealers. Some of the things we did was obviously we made sure our website was easily viewable on an iPhone or Android and any kind of mobile app. And then made sure it was iPad friendly because we want to make sure they don’t have a lot of flash in their that prohibits your website from showing on an iPad. Them we really wanted to make sure we engage dealers all the way up through the event so we created a text-based marketing plan. For example, if dealers text “Ignite” to 38681 they automatically get entered into our main contest which is going to win them an iPad2. They are getting demonstrations at the event that’s going to be a text-based game and we are going to teach dealers how to do that through the beginning so they know how to engage in some of those games and then they could use that for their dealership for oil changes so they will be bale to take that information to their dealerships. It’s going to be really good.
Ben: Let’s drill down a little deeper into mobile marketing and let’s take a look at mobile websites and mobile apps. Talk a little bit about how dealers can use those two specific areas to help reach their customers with mobile-based devices.
April: One, your first wanting to see how much traffic you’re getting from your mobile site or even your regular website. Start with Google Analytics, make sure you’re looking at what browsers people are using so you can see if you’re getting a lot of people using mobile devices to look at your website and you’ll start to get an idea of what kind of traffic you have there. Now as for apps, apps are such an emerging idea for retail. If you even look at companies like Groupon they’re using that as a database to push information to the people that opt in. Dealers could do the same thing so you have a very big database of customers that do service with you on a regular basis. And they have opted in to communicate with you. Your app could help them store all their service history, remind them to do oil changes, or when they start shopping again you know its been two and a half, three years, it’s very likely that they’re going to come back to you to look at those other cars. Apps have become a really good way to database if you make sure that you have one that’s really easy to utilize.
Ben: Let’s talk about mobile-based devices (iPad, Android tablets, etc.) in the dealers internal operations. How have you seen that being used? What innovative things have you observed in the last couple of months?
April: When the iPad first came out I was really excited about it. I’m a girl – I have a purse – I don’t want to carry around big gigantic laptops so when I wanted to do presentations I really wanted to do them on the fly. Dealers say they have no time for demos, not time for pitches, so it’s really easy to have a conversation and the next thing you know we just transition into this nice little presentation. Imagine if you were doing the same thing with your consumers. People are coming into the show floor and they’re talking with you and you’re having conversations with them and they still have their wall up and you go “Hey would you like a little bit of information” and now you’re not pulling them back to your desk and making them sit down and putting them through the same motions we have as car sales people. You have your iPad out and say “Okay, let’s look to see if this comes in a V6, let’s look to see if you can get this in a four-wheel drive, let’s see if we have this in stock” and you just literally go through your iPad and make it a much easier, convenient, faster process for the consumer. Additionally, if you think about the other awkward points you know when people are sitting waiting for finance managers or waiting to sign up. That’s when you don’t want them to get cold feet. You’re trying to distract them with conversation and coffee. Imagine if you had an iPad where you could show them your store’s value or show them warranty information up front so they’re reading a little but about it so by the time they go in they feel more equipped. I’ve seen a lot of dealers start to get this idea. I saw that announced in NADA where a lot of the apps were a “first look” in an iPad edition to make sales people more prepared on the show floor. That’s where I’d like to see dealers grow is with that.
Ben: Excellent stuff, let’s bring it all together. Let’s summarize this and again we’re with April Rain from Cuneo Advertising. Sum it up for a dealer what do they need to be doing with mobile marketing specifically with mobile-based devices within their market – basically marketing to their customers?
April: A couple things, one make sure you have your mobile site and that alone is going to get you traffic. Anybody that’s searching for your website will automatically revert to your mobile site and go “Wow this is really easy to use.” It’s very affordable just to talk with your webhost providers. Second would be to start looking at an app – once again, very affordable. If you get in early you’re going to start building up that database so definitely talk to companies about that. Third is having some sort of mobile marketing solution. Maybe you have your own vanity code. I have my own and if people text my name they get my contact information. What if it was that easy for a sales person to be able to give their contact information to their consumers? These things are all very affordable and they are extremely easy to implement. Maybe just talking with a company about how they can find solutions for you and make it customized to your dealership – that’s the way to go about it.
Ben: My guest has been April Rain, head of Digital Development for Cuneo Advertising. Again, April thanks for taking the time.
April: Thanks a lot Ben.