Mobile Apps?

John McCarthy
Have any dealers started to integrate marketing through a custom branded mobile app? I understand that there are apps out there such as TrueCar, but I'm actually talking about a custom app that is exclusively owned by the dealer. The reason why I ask is because mobile marketing is really becoming huge right now. Think about the things that you can do with an app... - Collect mobile leads through in-app registration - Engage leads based on proximity using iBeacons (i.e., maybe you send a push message when a lead is 5 miles away from your biz) - Collect leads through app and pass the info through to an email auto-respondor sequence - Provide customers with access to inventory + alerts about new cars and offers - I would imagine that this would be good for customer retention. The list goes on and on.. Why are dealers not creating apps for their businesses?
mark rask
This sounds interesting....will follow
Jesse Peterson
I did it a few years ago. I cancelled it a year ago. Maybe if I'd done the things you are talking about I would have kept it
John McCarthy
Hi Jesse, thanks for the response! When you did this a few years ago, did you use one of those app builder services that allows you to build an app yourself? Or did you hire a developer to do it for you? I have found that the DYI services are pretty bad overall. I have been selling apps like this to restaurants for a little over a year now. I'm starting to look more into other industries such as auto now. I think auto is interesting because of the possibilities to turn an app into a lead generation machine . For example, imagine collecting a prospects info during the registration then pushing that to a sales person through a backend admin interface, then hitting them a few different ways through pushes and email. So many possibilities... My guess is that there are dealers who build apps, but they don't know the right way to do it and how to integrate the app into their marketing efforts. Then there are also the people who do want an app, but tend to think that building an app is too complex. I'm seriously beginning to think about building a platform that will make this technology available to auto dealers everywhere. It makes sense to me, but maybe I"m being too optimistic about it.
James Altemus
I have yet to see anyone making a compelling argument for a bespoke dealer or dealer group app when mobile websites exist and will generate far more traffic than an app would, from either the perspective of the dealer or the customer. An important thing to remember with apps is that once you have an app, you're committed to keeping it updated as technology changes, and that can quickly turn into a razor/blade situation with your app developer.
John McCarthy
James, Thanks a great point. I think that many people tend to lump the mobile app and mobile website together. And that makes sense if you're going to make a basic app that is scaled down version of a website..but my opinion is that doing so is a complete waste of time. My thinking is that the app becomes a powerful marketing tool when it is used to engage new and existing customers in ways taht the mobile website cannot, such as using iBeacons, pushes, and interactive content... And imagine that the sales person recognizes that the prospect is using a smartphone. Before the prospect leaves the sales person could say to them...hey, you should visit our mobile website...OR..why don't you download our mobile app? If the prospect downloads the app then you just put the dealership in their pocket...this is where the mobile site really falls short. Just my opinions..I could be completely wrong. As far as maintenance goes...that is very true. Things change, apps break, and they need to be updated. But updating an app is really no different than updating a website. It's actually easier if the app is built the right way.

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