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Phil DuPree

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Mobile Apps Provide Opportunity to Stay Connected with Customers

 

Few topics are hotter today than mobile apps for auto dealers, and whether you like them, hate them or feel indifferent, it looks like mobile apps are here to stay. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 85% of adults in the U.S. own a cell phone with the percentage owning a smartphone growing rapidly. In recent months a number of vendors in the auto industry have launched mobile apps aimed at dealers who want to connect with these mobile customers. Is there real value to a dealer in an app?

The idea is that once a customer has their local dealership’s app installed, they can use their smartphone to contact the dealership, schedule service, make payments, get quotes on vehicles and more. If it’s only transactional in nature, though, an app has limited value to the customer. If the dealer can offer extended value, it offers the potential to build rapport and create a long term relationship with their customers.

In fact, many dealerships have a slew of customers – converted and unsold alike – sitting in their CRM. Want to get your brand message out through an app to the most existing and potential customers? Here are some ideas on how:

ŸOld leads. Go through your CRM and identify all the leads that were being worked, but closed without a sale in the last six months. Then create an e-mail campaign promoting the consumer benefits of your dealership’s new mobile app.

ŸNew leads. Along with all the best practices responses that we usually advocate, sales people should include a link to the mobile app download. Internet customers, through their submission of a lead, have told you they appreciate convenience. Stress the convenience of the app, giving them access to your inventory on their mobile.

ŸService leads. We’ve written before how service departments should be marketing to unsold leads. Now you can market your mobile app to all your service customers, offering them exclusive specials or coupons, along with the ability to schedule an appointment through the app.

While it’s too early to quantify the return of dealer-specific apps, they offer a great value-add to a dealership’s established marketing message. When you choose one for your store, take a lesson from other successful app rollouts: pick one that offers real consumer benefits. Without that, your new app – and marketing opportunity – may be uninstalled quickly, giving you no lift at all. But if you get it right, you’ll expand your message’s reach, keep connected to your customers and convert more customers – unsold and sold – to return business in your sales and service departments.

Have you developed any marketing campaigns for mobile apps? What has worked and what hasn’t?

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