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In 2014, there will be more than 2 billion smartphones globally. Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That’s why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business. This means that in 2014, automotive retailers should be prepared to re-engineer their processes, platforms, and organizations in order to stay relevant in this new business environment.
A mobile marketing study conducted by Forrester Research concludes this is what you should expect to see in 2014 and how automotive retailers should take action:
■ The intersection of mobile with the physical world will emerge as a top priority. Those professionals who are successful in their use of mobile will use it to enhance or transform existing customer experiences within physical spaces. Mobile brings the Internet to the physical world and enhances, rather than displaces, other media. For example, customers are bringing Internet prices and promotions into physical retail locations. In the past, many retailers ran their store operations and online businesses separately - this is now obsolete. Don’t think of mobile as just shopping on the go. Mobile is a tool for in-store. It’s a tool for research and consideration.
■ ACTION: Engage your consumers in their exact moment of need, which has been referred to as a “mobile moment,” with the right services, content, or information. Not only do you need to understand their context (e.g., situation, preferences, or emotions) in that moment but you also need insights gleaned from data over time to know how to best serve them in that moment. Understanding when and where people want to interact with your brand and the actions they want to take within your mobile content can drastically help you deliver an optimized experience. (Note: this is where geo-fencing / geo-conquesting for automotive retailers is extremely effective utilizing location-based technology.)
■ Mobile advertising will start maturing. Brand advertisers have long been hesitant to invest in mobile due to the lack of maturity of the mobile ad ecosystem, the absence of rich-media ad units, and measurement complexity due to the primarily cookieless environment. But in 2014, expect to see new mobile-centric ad formats to emerge, more effective mobile video inventory to grow, and more mobile ad network inventory to shift to the exchanges. Improvements in user identification will be a primary driver for these changes.
■ ACTION: Shift the way you think about mobile advertising. You will be tempted to look for strategic guidance in over-hyped, tech-focused questions: Will Facebook extend FBX to mobile in 2014? Don’t get distracted by the chatter. In 2014, focus on creating a mobile advertising strategy that takes advantage of the unique context and formats the mobile platform provides you. Begin by working with several vendors to test new ad formats and compare their ability to offer better-targeted mobile experiences. For example, an ad platform such as Apsalar can help you figure out the ROI of various ad campaigns through the use of in-app analytics and first-party data.
■ Companies will not differentiate tablet and mobile phone experiences. Despite the rise of smaller (7-inch) tablets and the increasing cellular connectivity of these devices, tablets are still primarily used within the home in a very different context than mobile phones. And the majority still rely on Wi-Fi. While Forrester believes that use cases between smartphones and tablets will continue to diverge, companies will continue to consider them as mobile devices. Do not make this same mistake.
■ ACTION: Differentiate your tablet approach and split your tablet budget. You cannot ignore the fact that more than 10% of web traffic will come from tablets alone in 2014. Automotive retailers should make the most of the context in which people use their tablets: It’s a lazy Internet experience where people are much more open to discover and explore brands and products. Strategies that incorporate the depth of online programs with the touchscreen capability and full-screen HD video of tablets will maximize your marketing efforts on this distinct form factor. But whatever strategy you choose, remember that user behaviors and expectations for tablets are much closer to those for PCs than for smartphones. When you lump tablets in with mobile phones, you drain dollars from the already-meager mobile budget when you should be reallocating budget from the PC — the core device the tablet will replace among consumers.