Let’s talk about text, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about text.
Let’s talk about text for now to the people at home and in the crowd. It keeps coming up anyhow. Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic ‘cause that’s not going to stop it. Now we talk about text in the mags and on the blog talk radio shows. Many will know, anything goes. Let’s tell it how it is and how it could be. How it was, and of course, how it should be.
Okay, fine. I will stop rapping. I’ll discontinue altering the lyrics to the famous Salt ‘N Pepa song of the early 90’s, but obviously this first verse and chorus above lend well to the topic of text. Text, or mobile messaging as it is known, is changing the way people communicate across the globe.
In 2008, the Nielsen Company released a report that SMS text messaging has officially taken over phone calls on all mobile devices. Simply put, more text messages are sent than calls are made from mobile devices. While calls haven’t significantly reduced in amount, text messages continue to climb. I’ve recently heard there are more text messages sent everyday than there are people on the planet. It is high time dealerships address this shift as it is not a trend, but a standard.
Matt Watson, Chief Technology Officer for Vin Solutions believes “Text messaging will continue to evolve as the preferred way to send short highly relevant messages to your customers. Mobile internet usage is quickly growing and text messages with hyperlinks back to your mobile optimized website is a great way to communicate with your customers.”
The steps to becoming a mobile dealer are not near as complicated as you might expect. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes all it takes is the willingness to spend a few Hamiltons to make great things happen.
First, you must contact your online inventory tool/vendor and make sure they can convert your inventory to a mobile listing and check if they incorporate in-house videos of the inventory.
Second, have your website provider (or a mobile marketing vendor) create a mobile website for you.
Third, ensure your CRM is able to convert these soon-to-be-generated mobile leads.
Finally, market the mobile text code in the proper advertising to build traffic and interest. (I’ll address mobile SEO and lead management at a later date, but the above four steps get you into the mobile game.)
I’ll approach these one by one. Your inventory on the lot must be able to be viewed from today’s mobile device so it must be sized and scaled correctly. Some mobile codes can take the interested party directly to your mobile website. Others will direct them specifically to their vehicle of interest while another text code can lead them straight to a specials page. Much like your inventory, your mobile website will be scalable, but will not need all of the flashy accoutrements your primary website is accustomed to containing.
Mike DeCecco, Director of Industry Relations for Dealer.com, states “Our mobile websites are designed with the end user in mind. For example, we believe iPhone websites must function very much like an iphone application so users of that device will easily understand how to navigate through. Also, dealers should find those services that produce their own in-house videos for inventory and build their own mobile websites. One upcoming trend that Dealer.com has already jumped into will be to offer real human voice inventory videos on iphone mobile websites. In addition, mobile websites should automatically detect the device of the end user and serve up the appropriate website for Smartphone or iPhone.”
Many shoppers are not carrying around their laptops with them. They do not have the ability to crack open the shell to their iMac, wifi in, and research a vehicle or a special. Mobile applications are allowing for instant gratification. Much like the internet was once considered the primary tool to obtain information quickly, the mobile phones of today have stepped up that process. Now, decisions are being made and information sought from the point-of-contact. The moment you grab the consumer’s attention, they have the ability to connect.
As consumers evolve, so must we as dealers. Understand that if a customer is searching through a mobile application, that lead is hotter than one from a basic lead provider. Dealers must adopt a quicker follow up procedure to ensure the needs of the consumer are met. Some new technology and platforms hitting the market are trying to help dealers engage the customers quicker.
“Until now, mobile ILM applications have only provided alerts when an email lead has been received. Someone still has to sit down at a computer to respond to the inquiry,” said Stan Thomas, CEO of DealerUps. “With our product, Mobile Mailroom, you can respond to the email lead directly from your mobile phone. It’s fast, easy and all of the data is captured and pushed directly into our CRM.”
Lastly, it is the dealer’s responsibility to actively market the mobile text codes and mobile inventory to the public. There is no use having mobile sites and inventory if you are unwilling to drive traffic there in your advertising and marketing initiatives.
As Richard Abronson, Vice President of Marketing and Products for Gumiyo Inc, puts it “Mobile works best when there is a call to action in all of your traditional advertising. Whether it is a dealer’s signage, newspaper ads, TV, radio spots, vehicle listings and window stickers, there must be a mobile call-to-action with memorable keywords to engage the consumer. Dealers doing this have received an incredible amount of responses, specifically in response to text call-to-actions on TV, because, while a laptop is not always on when the television is, everyone seems to have their cell phone sitting nearby.”
Mobile marketing is not only here to stay, but Abronson foresees major mobile advancement in the future. “Peer to peer messaging is a way’s away from being ubiquitous, but I do believe that will be a wave of the future along with being able to scan your mobile screen for coupon redemption for instance. In the short term, I think we will see more free apps and those apps will be much more standardized. While screens won’t get much bigger, we will see the speeds increase, pricing get cheaper, and eventually it may be free, similar to email. You’ll also see more newspapers offering mobile service – print to mobile packages.“
Dealers that are early adopters of mobile web technologies will be at an advantage against their competitors. Not only should dealers dedicate some Hamiltons to their mobile web presence now, but they should dedicate one good person in their store to be the mobile expert (or “mobile evangelist” as Abronson calls it) to put the mobile provider in place and keep current on the latest text trends. Doing this will ensure you are a part of the mobile marketing community of the future. So break out your cell phones and start tapping. Start rapping. It’s time to talk about text, baby.