Posts Tagged ‘Apps’

Practical Advice to “Do Mobile Right”

March 4, 2010

There’s a lot of confusion in our industry about the right way to create a mobile online presence.  Where there is confusion, there are also companies around who will take your money before the truth comes out.  Hopefully, this article will help you make smart decisions and avoid getting ripped off.

Apple’s very successful iPhone product and equally successful advertising campaign promoting the slogan “there’s an app for that” has led to some opportunistic companies popping up and charging lots of poorly informed dealers lots of money for very little value.

Read below to get some useful advice to consider if you’re ready to put your dealership on the phones of your shoppers.

The Mobile Marketplace

Mobile web browsers have been around a long time now – but only in the past few years have there been enough to really make a difference.  Apple’s iPhone leads the pack with over 65% of the install-base.  Google has released a mobile phone called “Android” that has many of the same features of the iPhone – and its popularity is growing fast.  Blackberry has long been the staple of the business world – it was the first to get reliable email down – but its browsing capabilities still lag behind the others – especially on models more than a year old.  Microsoft Windows Mobile has been around a long time with a lot of great programs – but not a large install-base.   Sadly – none of these devices have the same screen size, capabilities, or web standards.   Next to enter is the forthcoming Apple iPad – yet another size of screen and yet another set of capabilities.

Welcome to the “SplinterNet” – that’s what people are starting to call it.  No longer can you just build a great website and hope to reach everyone.  You have to have a flexible web platform that can reach all of these folks – because they all need to buy cars from time to time.

The Perfect Solution

If you want to have the best possible platform today and still be relevant in a year from now – there’s really only one way to do it.  Your online mobile presence needs to have at least 2 targets.

The high-end Apple iPhone & Google Android devices are so powerful they can do things that even full-sized computers can’t do yet!  They support newer technologies than the browsers you use on your desktop!  And, of all the platforms listed above, they have the highest number of people actually using them to find businesses online.   You want to put your best foot forward and impress these people with a stunning and fast website that gives them information at their fingertips.  It needs to be “touch friendly” so that every button and link is big enough to accommodate a finger (rather than a stylus or a joystick like some other mobile devices use).  Watch for these features when you evaluate mobile products – if they are not set up correctly, car buyers will not use them.  If you look at a ClickMotive FUSION ™ Mobile Web Application, you’ll see it looks & feels a lot like other Apple iPhone products – this means people already know how to use it – to shop your inventory, call your service department, see when you’re open, get directions, etc.  It’s no wonder we see an average 43% conversion rate on these sites (yes, you read that right!)

At the same time, you can’t afford to ignore everyone else.  There are lots of Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and other devices out there.  When those users look for your business, they need a clean display that works even if the screen is tiny (because it often is). The application needs to have very few features (these devices move very slowly when downloading pictures).  The formatting has to be kept to a light-weight minimum or it will not work on all the devices the same.  ClickMotive FUSION™ Mobile Web Applications have been tested on 35 hardware platforms and evaluated against nearly 100 more.  We even conducted user focus group studies to ensure it works the way users of those products expect.

But What If Someone Wants to Sell Me An App?

At NADA, we encountered lots of companies selling what they called “Apps” – these were essentially a static business card that could be uploaded to Apple’s “App Store”.  While this is novel, it serves very little business value.  Consider the following when comparing a Mobile Web Application to an App-Store App before you buy one of these little money wasters:

Bear in mind, a well-designed mobile web application has all of the features of an App-Store App – but without any of the drawbacks in the table above.  It can be made into a desktop icon, it can update for fast operation, and much more.

If after all of this, you still think it would be cool to distribute through the App Store, any good provider should be able to offer this to you for an additional fee.  All that’s involved is using a program to wrap up your mobile website and submit it to Apple for review.  ClickMotive will do this as well – but with some honest and friendly advice first.

As always, if you have questions, we’d love to hear from you.