Archive for November, 2013

Two Things That Could Affect your Bottom Line in 2014

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Successful dealers every day are looking for the newest edge in the marketplace. Everyone wants to know what will help them sell more cars, make more profit and improve their bottom line. I have two things that will help you get a leg up on your competition.

The first thing almost every dealership needs is a mobile website. This is a complete reversal from an opinion I voiced in previous articles. In the past, I have labeled mobile sites as being all hype. What has changed to make me feel that having a mobile site is a must? The answer is Google.

To explain this, I first must describe a mobile site. In short, a mobile site is just a condensed version of your .com or .net site and it is considered “mobile phone friendly”. This means the site can be displayed on mobile phones and tablets, not just on PCs and laptops. Smaller devices cannot display some images you would see when using a regular computer. Most phones and tablets are also not able to decipher various types of program code such as Java and Flash. These are two types of programs commonly used in the creation of a traditional .com site but when you attempt to view them on a smaller device, they either show up as empty boxes or small icons or worse, they make the site impossible for the smaller devices to load.

You have to remember, until a few years ago, none of your website’s traffic came from mobile devices. Today, car dealers can see as much as 20% of their traffic coming from mobile devices and that is expected to grow. Until now, though, it was still not necessary to have a mobile site in order to provide mobile device users a good site viewing experience. If you were willing to have a website that incorporated no Java and no fancy Flash presentations, your site was still able to be viewed on those smaller devices. This might mean you compromise your main site some, but it would allow you to give the same online presentation to all users, regardless of what platform they used.

The reason I go from labeling mobile sites as hype to saying they are necessary is due to recent changes made by Google. In the interest of presenting their users with the best online experience possible, they have made changes to their way of determining who gets listed in specific search results. In the past, it did not matter to Google whether or not they were sending someone using a mobile device to a site that was entirely made of flash and impossible to be seen by that user. If you searched on your phone for “used cars” and your site had nothing but flash programming, the user would click on it but get nothing but a broken site. Now, that has all changed. If you use the same search terms on your phone now, Google will list sites higher if they have a mobile site for them to refer all mobile users to. Likewise, that fancy all flash site will get listed lower (or not at all) if it has no mobile site.

Today, a mobile site will not only provide your mobile users with a favorable online experience when they visit your site, it will also net your .com site more regular Google traffic.

The next advertising feature that will make a big splash in 2014 is Text Message Marketing. This is also known as SMS Marketing or Short Message Service. Rule changes were recently handed down by the Federal Communications Commission, a sign that this form of advertising is growing. Many of us have already discovered the wonders of texting. You can type a quick message on your phone and send it to another person’s phone. Studies show the younger generation has really taken a liking to this form of communication. Today, you have the ability to have texts sent from your website to your clients and vice versa.

Let’s say you are advertising in the local classifieds magazine, for instance. Print is an “old school” way to advertise, but still effective in some markets. However, with SMS marketing you can tie this old school way to a new age means of advertising by adding to the description of each vehicle something like “text the last 6 of the vin to get any car sent to your phone”. When they do, they get a url to the car on your site sent to their phone and you get their phone number and what car they asked about. Later, you can text them with any number of things including an invite for a test drive or a discount on future purchase. If you have a service department, your staff could remind your clients automatically when oil changes and other service is due.

This marketing service starts off relatively inexpensive but does grow with the number of messages sent. It opens up a number of unique advertising opportunities. You may have seen a sign in a restaurant saying “Text COUPON to 12345 for 10% off tonight’s meal”. Why would they give you a discount as you walk in the door? The answer is so they can send you other advertisements in the future. This form of advertising is heavily regulated by the FCC so it is important you work with a provider who will help you with compliance. With very little effort and a little bit of time, you could have a mailing list (or texting list) with hundreds of contacts you can constantly reach out to with just a simple text.

Ask your website provider for details on what they offer regarding mobile sites and text marketing. Feel free to call us for comparison. Happy selling in 2014!