By Ryan Leslie
At Google’s ThinkAuto event in September, it was revealed that 29% of automotive queries will come through mobile phones next year, and by 2015 more people will access the Internet via their smartphones than on computers. At DealerRater we have seen evidence of this in recent months as the number of mobile users accessing our website has jumped to over 20%.
In today’s market if dealers want to acquire, develop and retain customers, they must include mobile media in their marketing/advertising strategy. It would be wise to also include reputation management as part of any mobile strategy. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
Here are a few tips:
1. Mobile Optimized Website: More than half of consumers who use Smartphones to research a vehicle before buying do so while at a dealership, J.D. Power’s 2012 Automotive Mobile Site Study found. Nearly a third of vehicle shoppers who intend to buy or lease a new vehicle within the next two years visited mobile versions of automotive web sites via Smartphones to research a vehicle purchase, up from 24 percent last year and 17 percent in 2010. Of those consumers, 53 percent looked up vehicle information while at a dealership. According to J.D Power, the trend underscores the importance of mobile sites — Web pages designed to be viewed on a Smartphone’s small screen.
Mobile Website Technology automatically detects mobile devices when they arrive at the dealership’s websites. The platform directs this traffic to a mobile version of each customer site, which is specifically tailored to a mobile user’s needs – streamlined navigation, tight lead forms, and quick loading content. Mobile users are typically looking for something in particular (searching), not browsing like they often do on typical websites (surfing). Your dealership’s mobile website needs to get your customers the information they are looking for, whether its customer reviews, inventory, service, or other content, as quickly as possible. The customer isn’t just killing time when they pull out a mobile device in the showroom. They are actively researching the deal and the dealership.
2. E-Mail Reminders: Emails with clickable links to third-party review sites are a great way to easily remind and encourage mobile users to write a review. Given increased mobile use, consumers can receive that email and respond immediately when convenient (whether they are in a doctor’s office waiting room or waiting on the sidelines of their son’s soccer game).
3. DON’T Ask Customers to Write Reviews in the Showroom: While it may be tempting to ask the mobile customer to immediately write a review on their Smartphone while in the dealership, this practice causes consumers to question the credibility of the dealership’s reviews due to the leading nature of the process. In addition, Google and many other review sites track IP addresses and recognize this type of review as spam/fraud and will remove the content. A mobile device won’t share the same IP as your dealership if it isn’t on your network, but it does leave a trace as to the location.
As mobile technologies and user adoption rates increase, it is conceivable that Google and others will begin to filter reviews based on geo-location, not just IP address. While in the showroom, your dealership’s goal should be to obtain the verbal commitment from the customer to write a review.
4. Ramp up Monitoring Efforts. An important thing to consider about mobile users is that everything is more instant. 70% of all mobile searches on Google result in consumer action within one hour, and mobile coupons are redeemed at 10X the rate of mailed coupons. If a customer is happy, they might be more likely to write a glowing review on the spot (however, this does not mean it’s OK to ask customers to write a review while still in the dealership. Instead, ask for a verbal commitment).
Unfortunately, the demand for instant satisfaction can also work against your dealership. If a customer has an unpleasant experience, they might be more likely to write a negative review before they’ve even left your lot. To prepare for these knee-jerk reviews, it’s critical to ramp up your reputation monitoring efforts.
If you don’t already have a monitoring tool, it’s a good time to get one. Spending time manually going from site to site is time-consuming and one of those tasks that tends to get pushed to the back burner. A comprehensive monitoring tool alerts you to any new reviews on influential third-party review sites. Remember, a negative review isn’t necessarily perceived as a deal-breaker. Ignoring a negative review is. How the dealership responds to a review and whether they attempt to rectify the problem is just as important as the review itself. Monitoring tools allow you to do this quickly and efficiently.
In summary, a mobile marketing strategy should encompass all of your current marketing efforts, including sales and service, paid search, mobile ads, coupons, e-mail and reputation management. Mobile users will soon account for half your online traffic, and they are sure to appreciate and reward dealerships that make it easy to access, read and write online reviews. At DealerRater we are staying on top of this trend and recently launched our own mobile optimized site.