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How Auto Brands Can Win With Mobile

Posted on April 18, 2013
By Shamala DN

The auto industry has traditionally relied on conventional marketing means such as TV advertisements, bill boards and print media to drive sales. But over the last couple of years there has been a tremendous shift towards the Internet, social media and mobile. This was bound to happen with the coming of the Internet and the mobile and the way media has changed over the last few years. People have moved to online, more so to mobile and social media, where they look for vehicle pricing, model information, photo galleries, vehicle reviews, ratings, ownership reviews, and vehicle comparisons.

Why this shift to mobile?

Mobile devices have completely changed the way consumers shop, and search for information and looking for a new or pre-owned vehicle is no exception. Current mobile statistics reveal that there are over 1 billion mobile web users worldwide with more than 90% of smartphone users being mobile Internet users. According to a new mobile focused study by J.D. Power and Associates almost 60% of auto intenders in the US are looking at their smartphone while they are on a dealers lot. Briabes Auto Shopping On-the-Go with Mobile: A Study of How Consumers Are Using Mobile Devices in Auto survey in US found that:

  • Three out of five respondents have noticed an auto ad on their mobile phone or tablet
  • More than one-third (37 percent) have clicked on auto ads for more information
  • Users are most interested in research (85 percent) and / or price comparison (86 percent) when shopping for cars on their smart phones or tablets
  • Banner ads (68 percent) and social media ads (69 percent) are the most effective types of ads that cut through the online clutter
  • Deals and promotional offers along with ads that highlight car features resonate the most among mobile users with 76 percent of respondents saying they are most likely to click on these types of car ads

Clearly, mobile has become the preferred channel for reviews on dealership websites, social media platforms or just searching for car related services in the locality. Smartphones have become the prime source of information among car shoppers. Consumers are making decisions based on research on their mobile devices. These trends have led the industry to push and adopt mobile media which traditionally has been reluctant to embrace new technologies. It is important for auto manufacturers to recognize this shift and set the stage with innovative and creative mobile ad campaigns. As with other industries, auto companies need to focus on the following components to drive customer acquisition, strengthen relationships and achieve brand differentiation.

  • Content drives traffic: A study by Millennial Media has found that nearly one-quarter of consumers who keep up with auto info (21 percent) read automobile content daily. Content is the key to prospective engagement. Creating original content with a clearly defined keyword strategy can help boost SEO rankings. It is important to frequently update and tailor the content to customer behavior to attract and covert site visitors.
  • QR Codes: QR codes provide the ability to interact with customers who examine dealer stores during off hours. They also allow customers to find more information or deals via the brand without being bombarded by advertising. QR codes can also be included in their main website and print advertising. When customers scan the code, they can be directed to the dealership website to obtain more information such as pricing and specifications.
  • Location based services: Auto dealers can leverage the mobile medium to deliver geo targeted alerts or push notifications on the offerings. This is very important for auto service companies as customers would be interested in tracking their services on-the-go.
  • Mobile video: With every launch and review tracked on video hosting sites such as YouTube which is accessible over mobile, it is important for auto manufacturers to upload images and videos combined with reviews and commentaries to create an impression.
  • Optimize and integrate: While most of the OEMs have comprehended the importance of mobile, it is important to optimize mobile search, strengthen mobile marketing and m-commerce for products and services to be purchased online. Integration with social media provides opportunities to auto retailers to engage customers, build brand credibility and loyalty.
  • Mobile optimized website: According to the 2012 Automobile Mobile Site Study by JD Powers, 31% of shoppers actively looking to buy a vehicle have visited automotive websites via their smartphones compared with 24% in 2011 and 17% in 2010. Having a mobile optimized website which loads quicker and is simple and easy to navigate is crucial to for differentiation. The site can display the products, latest sale prices, and running offers with optimized mobile ad campaigns to improve user engagement.
  • Rich Media: Mobile ads allow for a level of engagement not possible in traditional media and enable brands to expand their customer relationships. Marketers should embrace rich media ads to serve videos and images to create a unique experience which leads to high engagement metrics.
  • Better use of targeting capabilities: Targeted and relevant messages will increase the response for auto related mobile campaigns. Automotive companies can target based on a combination of parameters including location, customers online behavior, handset, wireless carrier, age, gender, household income or time of day.

The future of mobile advertising looks bright and sophisticated. Although traditional forms of marketing and advertising will always have a place in the industry, the mobile revolution is changing the way businesses transact and traditional media may not be as effective. Mobile is becoming a much bigger part of day-to-day life and businesses can only benefit from understanding all that mobile technology has to offer. Marketers should take advantage of mobiles unique abilities as a marketing channel to reach customers where they are, develop a richer understanding of mobile consumer usage and refine their efforts to cope with the change. Want to talk options? Weve got ideas!

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