iPhones, Androids and other similar mobile devices aren’t just communication devices these days. Consumers across the country rely on their mobile devices every day as information hubs. Seventy-four percent of consumers in America own smartphones, and 55 percent use them for Internet searches, says Michelle Nelson, president of B2B Automotive Marketing. That means marketing initiatives geared toward those devices are can’t-miss opportunities for shops. Done right, shops can improve their brand prominence on devices that are rarely more than an arm’s reach from millions of users.
Nelson offers a few basic tips to help catch the attention of smartphone users.
Research has revealed very high numbers regarding the prominence of smartphone usage throughout the country. And that is no different when it comes to finding repair shops. Fifty-seven percent of people use their smartphone to locate repair shops because it’s the most convenient way to identify a facility while standing on the roadside.
That’s extremely important for shop operators to understand. They need to make sure their business is accessible on those devices in order to retain past customers and get recognized by new ones. Failure to take advantage of new technologies increases the probability of missing several opportunities to capture business.
Marketing your shop to mobile users requires a different approach compared with traditional methods. There are a few simple strategies that shops of all sizes can use to help.
• Get noticed by location-based services. Location-based services are used by 46 percent of mobile device users.
For example, when someone enters “collision repair” into a search engine, the search automatically identifies every shop within a certain radius of the user’s current location. It’s critical for a repair center’s information to be identified within those searches.
That can be achieved by setting up profiles on websites such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
• Develop a mobile-friendly website. Although most shops have a website, many of them are not formatted for compatibility with mobile devices. Viewers aren’t able to see information on those websites, and often can’t even acquire a phone number. In many cases, potential customers quickly move on to the next option.
Mobile-friendly websites are designed to make your basic business information more accessible, such as your address and phone number. They tend to be more simple, concise and streamlined—without many graphics—to allow for faster upload speed.
Then potential customers can quickly access the information that they are looking for.
The cost for creating a mobile-friendly website tends to range from $800 to $2,500.
• Develop an application. Design a smartphone application that everybody can download. There are several ways to develop an application, but they commonly include shop information, appointment scheduling, rental car reservations, and what to do in the event of an accident. Applications can be customized for individual areas if you serve multiple communities, including phone numbers for local police departments and fire departments.
Applications can be huge advantages for shops. The customer’s information can be sent directly to shop personnel or a towing partner when it is used.
The cost of developing an application greatly depends on the functionalities you want to include. Basic systems can be designed for roughly $3,500.
• Create a Quick Response (QR) code. QR codes are matrix-style barcodes that can store almost any type of data or information. Shops can use QR codes to easily direct smartphone users to any content they desire: website, videos, photos, testimonials, social media channels, promotional offers or specials. In addition, a shop’s contact information can be automatically stored in the customer’s smartphone after they scan the code.
QR codes can be added to any existing marketing or promotional pieces, such as signage, brochures, banners or business cards. And they can be created for free.
• Market via text message. Texting is huge right now, especially among younger generations. Research shows that 58 percent of people under the age of 34 prefer to receive text messages when their car is ready rather than phone calls or emails.
Marketing efforts through text messages allows shops to reach targeted customers directly.
• Use multimedia. Videos are great ways to catch the attention of smartphone users. If your shop gets a lot of walk-in traffic, you might write several estimates for customers who shop around at multiple facilities. You can make a strong impression, and stand out from competitors, by sending a video to customers’ mobile devices after they leave your facility.
The video is one more opportunity to thank the customer for stopping in, and to provide them with additional information about your shop.
These initiatives will improve the overall perception that people have of your business. Although simple, it shows that you’re innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to changes in technology. That tends to impress and attract customers.