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App works as fresh marketing option

Liz Keener, Managing Editor
September 13, 2013
Filed under Features

Superstition H-D making effective use of mobile app

When Allison Bauer of Superstition Harley-Davidson in Apache Junction, Ariz., wants to reach more than 5,000 of the dealership’s customers, she knows exactly where to turn — the store’s app.

Superstition Harley-Davidson has an app on both Android and Apple platforms, thanks to a partnership with Specialty Mobile Apps. The app has been used for everything from a Led Zeppelin trivia contest last September to weekly marketing messages delivered each Friday.

Superstition is one of about 100 Harley-Davidson dealerships that partner with Specialty Mobile Apps. The company also has developed apps for metric powersports dealerships as well as those in the RV, marine and auto industries.

The apps allow dealerships to show off their inventory and culture, while also sending push notifications out to customers who have downloaded it.

“The big thing for us is we’ve kind of had a little foresight as to where the market was going. This time last year there were 100 companies out there building apps, and they’re gone now,” SMA executive vice president Jeff Dobish said.

What has helped Specialty Mobile Apps stick around is its commitment to customer training and support, along with its dedication to the technology. Included with the app, for example, is a monthly audit. SMA assures that all links are working and the app is providing the information that it should.

“If something’s not right, something’s not working, or needs to be added, we’ll either send you an email to let you know, or do it for you,” Dobish said.

Communication device

Apps give dealers another way to communicate with their customers. With people constantly on their phones, reaching them on their devices is important.

“We can send them messages. If you send out a newsletter, they can ignore an email or just delete it, but if you get a [push notification], it’s hard to ignore,” Bauer said.

Apps also make a dealership stand out from its competition, as once a customer downloads a store’s app, it’s more easily top of mind.

“You’ve built a much deeper, invested relationship with that customer,” Dobish said.

On top of that, dealers can literally hit their competition right at the other dealership’s doorstep. The app can create a one-mile geo-radius around competitors’ stores and message customers when they enter that radius.

“Customers are shopping your dealership in your showroom, and our product truly gives our dealers an unfair advantage,” Dobish said.

Dealers’ apps can be customized and updated frequently, so no two look alike. Current features include turn-by-turn directions, inventory listings and event calendars that can include a variety of happenings at more than one location. More features, such as a chat function and service requests with reminders, are upcoming.

“There’s so much stuff that’s coming down the chute that hasn’t come out yet,” Dobish said.

A new app for a dealership takes four to six weeks to develop. After it’s ready, Specialty Mobile Apps will create a customized poster and graphics for the dealership to advertise the app. They’ll then train the dealership’s staff on how to encourage customers to download it.

“We support the dealer with virtually everything they’re going to need to promote their app,” Dobish reported.

Superstition Harley-Davidson has links to its app on its website, in its e-newsletter and throughout its marketing campaigns.

“We have in-store signage. We have QR codes for people to just click on with their phone around the store; we put them on the back of our business cards. We put the QR codes on just about anything,” Bauer said.

As the app is upgraded, customers and dealers receive the changes automatically, without having to refresh the app.

Monthly renewals

Specialty Mobile Apps’ services come without a contract, a system that was built purposefully, so the company would pressure itself to earn each dealership’s business each month.

Superstition Harley-Davidson has had its app for two years, and with more than 5,000 downloads to date, the dealership has been happy with its results, which are compared to other marketing vehicles.

“We use it to gauge our marketing,” Bauer said. “We’ll send out one type of marketing through the app and one through the newsletter and see which one works.”

When looking for more ways to market the dealership, Superstition H-D weighed text-messaging services versus an app and decided the app was the best bang for the buck, a decision Bauer’s happy to have made.

“Once we got it dialed in,” she said, “it’s been great. They’ve been great to work with.”

 

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