Source: Auto Remarketing
— The ever-growing presence of mobile phone technology
— and many consumers' penchant to stay connected at all times — presents auto marketers with unique opportunities to expand their reach of potential customers, connect with shoppers more quickly and often, and deliver more specific information throughout the purchasing process, according to a presentation at the recently held 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable.
One of these advancements in mobile-phone technology has been smartphone devices, whose popularity continues to build in the U.S.
Officials noted that many smartphone users are likely to keep their devices close by at all times, viewing them as an extension of their Internet use on personal computers.
This type of technology brings both challenges and opportunities to the auto industry, officials said. For instance, although tapping into this communication avenue requires a continuous investment on the part of auto marketers, it also allows them the opportunity to become part of mobile-device users' "circle of trust" by building an engaging mobile-Web presence.
"Mobile gives marketers the chance to reach more shoppers, more often, in more places and to push specific information to shoppers right up to the point of sale," explained Jason Ezell, founder and national account director of Dealerskins.
"If you can get into their circle of trust that is their mobile device, you have much more of a direct link to prospective customers from day one of shopping all the way to the day of purchase," he added.
To help auto industry professionals maximize mobile-device marketing, experts at the conference offered key tips.
For instance, they emphasized that the information sent to consumers on their mobile devices must be respectful and relevant. This may include ad listings, payment calculators, maps, directions and dealer contact information, all of which could be particular useful to shoppers.
Also, video and scalable banner ads are "particularly engaging" to mobile users. Paying attention to consumer feedback can be especially useful in increasing return visits to mobile Web sites.
Additionally, text messaging — when built into an overall campaign — can be helpful in sending out reminders as well as gaining responses from mobile users.
Experts noted that text messaging can be used to help motivate shoppers to stop by for a test drive, and is typically only 15 percent of what it costs to use more traditional media.
They also advised that when auto marketers gather e-mail addresses from shoppers, it is important to ask if the address is for a mobile address. That way, marketers can send them mobile-only offers and keep track of their mobile-device audience.
"Mobile is the connector that allows OEMs to take viewers from being passive to active," shared Charlie Taylor, general manager of digital marketing and motorsports at Volkswagen of America.
"As the mobile device experience becomes richer, people decide they don't want to live without certain features or content from a brand, which creates a barrier to exit," he continued. "We may see the development of more in-dash features that interface with mobile apps that keep owners engaged beyond the point of purchase."