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All politics is local, as the saying goes, but so is the automotive dealership business. Which today means, if you’re a dealer then it is absolutely essential that you market on mobile platforms, such as smartphones and tablets.  Why?  Because according to a 2011 study more than 50 percent of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. What’s more, mobile Internet usage is expected to surpass desktop Internet usage by 2014.

 

When adding mobile devices to your marketing mix, here are five tools or techniques to consider:

 

#1 Mobile-Friendly Website

 

The first step is to be mobile-friendly by having a separate mobile web site, optimized for display on smartphones and tablets. Your mobile site must load fast, have simple navigation, be free of clutter, and provide content that fits a smaller screen (if possible, no zooming or pinching required). Make sure your site is optimized for both local searches and immediate action, including GPS maps and click-to-call buttons.  Minimize your use of Flash or find a substitute for it, as Apple mobile devices are still not using Flash. Your mobile-friendly site should work in both horizontal and vertical formats. Above all, your main site should automatically redirect to the mobile-friendly version of your site when accessed from a mobile device.

 

#2 SEO Mobile

 

SEO mobile is like regular SEO, only different.  Clear, concise keywords are critical for SEO, of course, but a mobile search experience could also include type of device and current location as key elements in how search engines rank your results. Remember, mobile users typically access the web with a small device, tapping either a hard keypad or a virtual one. And, most likely, they’re multi-tasking, juggling their palm-sized smartphone while riding a bus, watching a movie or pretending to listen to a boring lecture. According to research, 15 characters and 40 seconds define the average mobile search. That’s not a lot of time or space to work with, so the rule of thumb in SEO mobile is “less is best.”

 

#3 Geo-marketing

 

Geo-marketing is your dealership’s online presence, inventory, and special offers in front of a local potential car buyer who is using his or her mobile device to research the market. Such buyers now have a real-time shopping assistant in their smartphone, which includes a GPS chip that can identify both where they are and where your nearest dealership is located. Remember to verify your business address on Google maps (and other listings) to confirm the location.

 

 

#4 Text Messaging

 

Mobile marketing via SMS text messaging is a quick and easy way to send prospects and customers coupons, surveys, and invitations. Every smartphone or tablet is SMS-enabled. You can create your own offers or use a coupon service, such as Groupon. The real beauty is, you can target specific niches with unique offers as well as immediately track response rates. Make responses easy by including a click-to-call number in your text message.

 

#5 Mobile Tags

 

There are barcodes and then there are 2D barcodes, also known as mobile tags, which give customers quick and direct access to online information. When prospects use their smartphone camera to capture a mobile tag, they can be sent directly to your website. A mobile tag can also virtually take them to special offers, videos, or coupons, such as for a free oil change or a discount on service.  With some mobile tagging tools you can even customize the 2D barcode experience and add your dealership logo or other images to the tag.

 

Don’t Stand Still

 

Take your business mobile. Nine out of ten smartphone searches result in a meaningful action taken—from visiting a business to making a purchase.  And ninety percent is the kind of response rate we’d all like to see.

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