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It’s All Going Mobile. We Get It. Now What?

Compared to a couple of years ago, the number of dealers who have some sort of mobile strategy is exponentially higher. As an industry, we're starting to really understand just how important mobile is, but there needs to be more action and less discussion, in my humble opinion.

Here's an article I wrote on one of my blogs. It was originally meant for a general business audience but I adjusted it slightly so we can apply to the car business as well.


When I finally stopped counting, I found 43 articles posted this week on various publications proclaiming that everything was going mobile and that marketers and businesses need to make the appropriate adjustments. All of the articles had two things in common: they gave reasons why we needed to market to mobile users and they didn't give very good ways other than the basic or generic methods for doing so.

Well, I'm here to give you some good ways to do it. That's all. No need to convince you that you need to do it. If you're reading this article, you already know. If you're not reading this article, you probably already know. Now, let's get away from why and start really digging into how.

Build Everything for Mobile

Everything. I didn't say most things. I didn't say "everything digital" or "all of your advertising". I said "everything" and I mean it.

Signs. Billboards. Television commercials. Radio spots. Newspaper ads. PPC campaigns. Social media posts. Your website. You employees' apparel.

Pretend like people will be carrying around smartphones and tablets with them everywhere they go. Pretend like their primary method for interacting with businesses is not the phone, not their email, not their laptops, and not coming to see you in person. Pretend like they're on the verge of using their mobile device even when they're in your store. Now, stop pretending because all of that is already a reality.

Watch your customers at the store. How many of them check their phones during the visit? Check your analytics. Look at the devices through which they're viewing your website.

Now, give them the opportunity to have a mobile experience with everything you have. Once you have the opportunities in line, give them the reason to act. For example:

  • Forget about paper coupons for parts or service. Put virtual coupons at your store if they download your app or go to the "In-Store Customer Discount Page" on your website.
  • Post unique videos and articles about specific vehicles. I'm not talking about stitched videos. I'm referring to sending a salesperson or someone else out to that new model that just came off the truck and giving it a good, short walkaround. Lots of dealers and vendors are talking about video, but few are investing into the medium properly. It doesn't cost much if anything. It takes time and commitment.
  • Let customers post to your site, community, or social profiles. In fact, encourage them. Give them incentive to do so. Tell them if they post a selfie with your sign in the background, they'll get 10% off. Images posted to Facebook or Twitter are much better than checkins on Yelp.

I could spit out ideas for hours, but we're writing an article, not a book. Think of ideas for yourself. What can you do with everything you have to make it part of the mobile experience.

A Mobile-Only Website Would Work

All too often, we build a website for the company and make it really pretty on a desktop, but we neglect to put the same effort in for mobile. Whether you're using responsive, adaptive, mobile-ready, or full-site only platforms, make sure that your website is designed specifically for mobile.

My personal recommendation is to go with responsive, but this article is not the place for that debate.

If your primary website mimicked a mobile experience, you're better off than if your mobile website mimics a desktop experience. At some point in the near future, we will begin to see more websites that appear like mobile websites even when viewed on desktops. This is a good thing. Those who start doing it early will be ahead of the curve.

Social is Mobile

For a while there, it was looking as if Facebook would be able to become the only web presence. They faltered, then interest dropped off, but they got close. Now, we're still stuck with our standard online presence and a separate social presence.

But wait! It doesn't have to be so partitioned. Social media sites, Facebook in particular, have very powerful mobile connections. By drawing as many people in as possible to engage with you through their mobile devices on social media, you can start to bridge the gap and work towards a unified web presence. This is much trickier than what I can explain in a short article, but the strategy is one that we're implementing for clients now.

If you think social, think mobile. If you think mobile, make it work with social. Both can be made local, thus we hear about the SoLoMo concept that has been so popular at marketing conferences for a few years now.

Erase All Desktop and Analog Thinking from Your Mindset

This is the most important thing to do. We've hammered it so far in this article with everything we've said. Now we're going to push it all the way through to the other side.

You don't have a mobile website and a desktop website. You have a website. You don't have social media fans on mobile and social media fans on desktop. They're all on mobile (or will be eventually). You don't have customers walking through your doors who aren't seconds away from having their phone in their hand. Embrace it.

Buzzwords like "showrooming" and "competitive shopping" are real but pretty much meaningless until you have a purely mobile strategy for everything you do. Keep that in mind next time you're looking at your advertising and marketing budgets. If an expenditure doesn't assist in taking advantage of a mobile society, consider letting it go.

Views: 703

Tags: marketing, mobile, strategy


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Comment by Alexander Lau on January 6, 2015 at 7:39am

Yes, we've not touched base on the User Experience aspect, which many ignore or fail to test. It's all about the user experience to Google and that includes the manner in which a site displays and easy access to all content, plus speed. Responsive design has been around for ages, it's just now catching fire in the web world. 

User Experience (UX) involves a person's behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User Experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person's perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency. User Experience may be considered subjective in nature to the degree that it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User Experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing usage circumstances and changes to individual systems as well as the wider usage context in which they can be found.

Instructional Design (also called Instructional Systems Design (ISD)) is the practice of creating "instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing." The process consists broadly of determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some "intervention" to assist in the transition.

More broadly: Human–computer interaction (HCI) involves the study, planning, design and uses of the interaction between people (users) and computers. It is often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design, media studies, and several other fields of study.

What about accessing blog content? Through RWD, it's easy for Google to crawl a great amount of data with the same URL, whereas more mobile site platforms make it much more difficult, just in general. The indexing aspect as well as being able to manipulate many aspects of content marketing, such as using a variety of plugins to accelerate Mobile SEO, which is NOT Global / National or Local (this should be highly noted).

Comment by Mathew Koenig on January 6, 2015 at 7:29am

@Alexander I agree completely about responsive (which my opinion is less important than Google's but mine holds a little value here and there lol).

Responsive is the only way to actually have a true multi-screen, mobile is everything mindset.

It isn't about designing for mobile or desktop or game systems or whatever.

It's about making everything in a way that creates the same outstanding experience for every customer, no matter where they are. Don't do adaptive and lose content.

Forget the SEO benefits for a moment and purely think of consumer experience - they should never miss out on great content because of the device they are on right? Responsive done right means no sacrifice in experience. Fast, easy, clean, functional, 100% awesome 100% of the time. 

That's what customers expect and that's what they deserve :) 

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 6, 2015 at 6:50am

@Matthew Koenig, some better shots of actually inventory, in this instance BMW. Sorry JD, didn't mean to derail this thread. Notice the bottom shot, with a one click (auto-stored) lead submission process. :-)

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 6, 2015 at 6:31am
Comment by Alexander Lau on January 6, 2015 at 6:29am

All this discussion on mobile and Don's comment made me realize we haven't discussed Mobile SEO. It's one of the reasons to have a responsive / one set of code (not two = adaptive, for the most part), as well. Google tells you to do it!

But why does Google prefer responsive design? For starters, it's more efficient for Google to bot crawl the site and then index and organize all the content that is online. The reason for this is that with responsive design, all sites have just one URL and the same HTML across all devices. When a business has both a mobile site and desktop site, there will be a different URL and different HTML for each. This forces Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same exact site.

Also, when there is just one website and URL, it's much easier for users to share, engage and interact with the content on that site as compared to a site that has different pages for mobile and desktop users. Google is a fan of that as well. Why? Because what if someone shared a mobile site on a social media outlet and one of their connections viewed that mobile site on their desktop? That viewer would then be viewing a less than optimal site because it was intended for mobile. This makes the user unhappy.

Additionally, CSS frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation and Skeleton are being constantly updated (supported and where area your adaptive resources) and that only benefits the likes of RWD. It's only a matter of time before many of the issues that cause minor glitches in RWD sites are fixed, such as far too large CSS files being reduced on load, etc. It's out there now actually... Pre-processors such as Sass, LESS and Stylus can do the hard work for you. Build tools including Grunt.js or Gulp can automate your workflow or, if you'd prefer a GUI, Koala provides a free cross-platform application, etc.

The sort of propaganda that is being used about responsive dealer websites is very similar to the propaganda used a few years ago when website providers were saying that their Flash websites were superior to ours. Have you seen any Flash websites lately?

Comment by DON GRAFF on January 5, 2015 at 2:27pm

We must be getting the same emails and texts about mobile but your blog is the first one that clearly says find away to "do mobile" no matter what you are listening to or disavowing or thinking of. Mobile,simply mobile.

Comment by Mathew Koenig on January 5, 2015 at 7:10am
Nice Alexander! I have a Fire TV and my kiddos have Roku. Earl that's not entirely true. Oil changes are relevant to a car but when I am car shopping on let's say for example, I don't want an intrusive ad popping up about an oil change. Yes it is relevant but it is still an interruption on the other I intended to go down. Interruption advertising will likely never go away, and since that's the case, consumers will always be looking for new ways to avoid those ads.

Comment by Earl Weingarden on January 5, 2015 at 7:06am

Last comment on the subject.  Advertising is "interruptive" when it is irrelevant. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 5, 2015 at 6:53am

@Matthew Koenig ('King' auf Deutsch). Not exactly mobile, yet. Videos, etc. to come. It's  very interesting you should bring up the following point and you'll see a load of blog posts coming from me on the topic, shortly.

"I think my disdain for interruption advertising is not unique to me, but at 39 years old I stream all my TV via Netflix, Hulu+ and Amazon and literally mute or get up to do stuff when a commercial runs on Hulu."

Hence my creation of the first automotive marketplace for Smart TVs. Starting with Roku, then Amazon Fire, etc. However, TV commercials will be able to connect to it, in a very unique way (think Shazam, but from TV ads to Smart TV lead execution).

The first automotive marketplace for the Roku Smart TV platform. Over 750,000 inventory listings (vehicle detail pages) available to the public. Dealerships will have the ability to sell their vehicles through the application, which will provide leads to their CRMs / BDCs.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 5, 2015 at 6:45am

Now head straight out to a company that will not only build your responsive website, but execute on...

The R.A.C.E. Planning Framework (Reach, Act, Convert and Engage)

The aforementioned strategy is compulsory for any business, however, most businesses (even large groups) fail to execute on it.

Automotive Professional Network and Resource Exchange for Car Dealers, Managers, OEM and Marketing Practitioners seeking Best Practices.

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