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Nov. 8, 2010 – An industry discussion on mobile technology

November 8, 2010
Filed under Features

How can dealers leverage the popularity of mobile technology to better connect with customers? And how are they using mobile technology to make their own businesses more efficient?
Those questions and others involving the emergence of mobile technology were addressed in a free Sept. 29 Webinar for dealers and industry members presented by Powersports Business and Dominion Powersports Solutions.
The Webinar featured four panelists speaking on the topic of mobile technology. Chris Brull, director of marketing at Kawasaki Motors, detailed his company’s marketing efforts in the mobile space. Kawasaki was an early adopter of mobile marketing, hosting a promotion in April 2009 that successfully used text messaging to generate floor traffic for dealers.
Kate Ribar, general manager of Renegade Harley-Davidson in Alexandria, La., described her experience starting a mobile text club, which she said allows her to communicate directly with highly engaged consumers.
Erica Byrd, a lead mobile architect and software engineer for Dominion Powersports Solutions’ CycleTrader.com and PowerSports Network brands, shared recent trends from CycleTrader.com’s mobile website and iPhone app and discussed PowerSports Networks’ mobile-enabled dealer websites.
Mike Davin, online editor of Powersports Business, shared the results of an exclusive national dealer survey on how powersports dealers are using mobile technology today.
At the conclusion of the Webinar, attendees asked a number of questions. Here are some of those questions and the panelists’ answers:
QUESTION: Have you been able to track an increase in participants to your events or in sales leads based on your texting?
RIBAR: No, honestly I have not. We do a multitude of tracking here, but no. But it’s been a lot of fun, and I see the immediate response. And that’s the important thing to focus on with this. Once you can be creative in growing your database, if you want to see your numbers jump for the day or your door swings, send a text.
QUESTION: If I want to reach people searching on their mobile browser, how do I implement a mobile marketing campaign to reach those people?
BYRD: I think there are several ways to answer that question. There are companies that do this. RealMedia has campaigns you can set up, and they are actually making it so that you can set up mobile campaigns.
If you’re just talking about some of the things we’ve done, we’ve sold images for advertising with Bank of America, different places like that. And we have a service integrated into our listings where you’ll run across an ad that’s integrated in there. With that, the target is mobile-specific in that we have it integrated into either our mobile application or our mobile Web site, and it has nothing to do with our main site. That advertising is done separately.
With this, that’s one of the great things, you have several different ways you can do advertising. Whether it’s through banners or clickable ads or you can set up full campaigns with advertising agencies that are out there.
QUESTION: Is there a cost associated with sending and receiving text messages?
RIBAR: There is. With the company I signed up with – everyone can go ahead and do their own research –* I took several weeks, close to a month, and I came to the conclusion of the company I do work with. There were a few reasons. One was the unlimited amount of messages both outgoing and incoming. In other words, joining up to our club, and also the unlimited number of people you could have in your database.
There are several organizations out there, and I’m sure everyone will be able to find one. I love it. I think it’s great.
QUESTION: Do dealers need to do anything to set up a PSN mobile site?
BYRD: With PSN, if you’re a PSN dealer, that’s part of the package that you get. So you can speak to your representative, but you should be able to pull up your dealer site from a mobile device and see an optimized version of it.
I would encourage dealers to find a mobile device and check it out and see what it looks like, and I think they’ll be impressed with the images and the listing data and how easy it is to navigate.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the differences between apps and mobile sites?
BYRD: One of the main differences is with mobile sites you reach people who have a multitude of different devices, with mobile applications you actually have to have a programmer, you have to have a development environment, a specific type of hardware and software, to write basically a program that then is submitted to some governing body, whether it’s Apple or whether it’s Android or RIM Blackberry for approval.
Then it’s stored in that location, and you’re dependent on your users coming and downloading it.
Those two things aside, I think the mobile-optimized website is fairly straightforward and it’s easy to do. There are tools out there that if you have people working on your main Web site, any Web developer can do a mobile-optimized Web site. The techniques are very straightforward. You don’t have to have customized knowledge. It’s pretty much all online.
Whereas if you’re going to have a mobile application, more than likely you need a developer who can Objective-C or C++ or Java. It’s a different process, and it’s also a different way of reaching people.
One thing I do like about mobile apps with Apple is that with iTunes, there are so many people who use iTunes, in my opinion it’s automatic advertising. If you’re on iTunes, you’re doing well. People like to search in there and see what’s going on, and they get excited, “Oh, you have an iPhone app.” Apple users, iPhone users, they like apps. They like to download the apps. And once it’s been downloaded, then you’re kind of in their face, you’re on their device.
Those are distinctions I’d like to call out. There are pros and cons to each of them. PSB

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