Marketing through mobile technology takes shape in a mobile website or mobile applications. A mobile website is a version of a company’s website that has been optimized for easier reading and viewing on smartphones. A mobile site does not duplicate every piece of content on the website, only content that fits mobile reading. This reading of shorter news items is called “info snacking.”

A mobile application or “app” interacts with the user with some functionality. The number of mobile applications downloaded on smartphones jumped 28%, from 32 apps per smartphone last year to 42 this year, according to The Nielsen Company.

“Growth of mobile technology is significant and growing faster than desktop Internet access. If you ignore it too long, you could be at a competitive disadvantage,” says Bob Dieterle, senior vice president and general manager of SmartOnline, a mobile technology company. Dieterle is also a rural lifestyler, who owns six acres near Durham, N.C.

“I’m learning as I go and I’m already carrying my mobile device around my property for phone calls and to check the weather,” he says. “This is an opportunity for my dealers to market to me.”

Getting Started

Dieterle outlines five steps to begin integrating mobile marketing.

Bob Dieterle, senior vice president and general manager of SmartOnline.

1. Set goals.

Mobile marketing, as with any business strategy, has to begin with setting goals. Generally, Dieterle says that mobile marketing can help dealers increase brand awareness or build brand loyalty.

“I am equidistant between two dealers. Right now, I randomly go to one or the other because of the convenience. They have not differentiated themselves yet. Potentially a mobile strategy from my point of view might do that.”

2. Determine your target audience

“Don’t target all your audiences at once. Start by finding out how your customers use mobile devices,” Dieterle says. This can be as simple as paying attention to customers carrying mobile phones in the dealership and asking how they use their phones.

3. Leverage existing content

Check your website analytics to see the kinds of content your customers are already accessing. Perhaps some of that content, such as parts catalogs or how-to videos, could work in a mobile application.

4. Find your “mobile hook.”

Dealers can find success by finding one utility that lends itself well to the mobile environment and provides value to rural lifestylers. Dieterle calls that a “mobile hook.”

“What is going to get me to tap on the application? What other value can the app provide that is different than the mobile website?” he says. That value should lead to a periodic interaction between the customer and the dealer.

“For instance, a mobile app could track my warranty. If it’s been a year since I’ve been in for service, it could remind me and even offer a discount,” Dieterle says.

5. Track your return on investment

Monitor how many people are accessing the mobile site or downloading the app and, again, ask customers when they come into the store.

Entering the Mobile Market

Dieterle advises that dealers enter mobile marketing in small ways and test the best use of the technology, both for them and their customers.

“Growth of mobile is significant and growing faster than desktop Internet access. If you ignore it too long, you could be at a competitive disadvantage.”

“A mobile website is the first easy thing to do,” he says. He advises that dealers think about the kinds of information a rural lifestyler might need when they’re in the car or away from their home, such as location addresses, phone numbers, emails, and links to how-to videos. Stay away from posting information on the mobile site that’s better left for the full site, such as a company history.

“A website is about providing information to me. I’m knocking on the door. A mobile app provides a dealership a chance to interact when I’m not thinking about them.”

Mobile Dos and Don’ts

Dieterle offers more tips to help you give rural lifestylers information and functionality — and drive business:

  • Do start in an area where you can be successful. “If you throw everything in and it’s not targeted to anybody, that can have a negative impact on brand image,” says Dieterle.
  • Do continue to monitor your existing website to track how mobile users are accessing it. That can provide direction to your mobile strategy.
  • Do continue to talk with your customers about the information they need when they are working on their properties.
  • Don’t duplicate your main website in the mobile version. That’s too much information to access on a smartphone.
  • Don’t forget why customers use mobile. They are not likely not just browsing, but going directly to your site or app to find information and act.
  • Don’t forget the basics, such as listings of locations, phone numbers, and department emails.

Seeking an Expert

Dieterle says that dealers may need to turn to an outside expert to launch their mobile strategy and build the site or application.

“Mobile is still new. It’s still evolving in terms of tools and services to create these solutions.”
Dieterle’s advice when choosing a mobile technology partner: “Go to someone you feel you can trust, who will be a resource for you.”

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