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Location Targeting: Engaging the mobile car shopper when the timing’s right

Remember those Apple iPhone ads for Siri?  “Siri, remind me when I get home to take out the trash”.

Admittedly Siri has had her bad PR as of late – more useful as a tool to raise blood pressure than provide convenience. While we can debate the usefulness of Siri, I want to focus your attention on the location targeting technology at play in that commercial. Your iPhone is able to give you useful information when the timing’s right. In this example it’s arriving home and taking out the garbage. In other examples it can be a coupon or offer at the time you’re purchasing a product.

In a commercial setting Location Targeting derives the most benefit with retailers who rely on timing to engage their customer. For large ticket retailers, such as dealers, convenience and timing of the message is key.


How valuable would it be to chat with your customer the moment they walk onto a competitor lot? How valuable would it be to send an oil change coupon to your customer the minute they pull into a quick lube station?

For the first time we are able to influence a customer precisely at the moment of decision.

Let me give you an example:

I was shared a story by a GM who used Location Targeting for a Saturday only offer:

“Best Price Match Offer + $500 cash.  Today only.”

The dealer targeted 5 competitor lots. On that Saturday alone, 7 shoppers brought their phones into the store and 3 purchased vehicles from the offer.

The dealer above is a prime example of catching a customer at the time of decision.

Let’s look at technically how Location Targeting works.

  1. Get the download.
     App-based location targeting is tied to, you guessed it, a mobile app.  Be it Android or iOS, the automotive shopper must first have installed your dealer app on his or her device.  The app does not need to be running and the phone does not need to be turned on.
  2. Identify targeted locations.
    Location Targeting by definition delivers a coupon or offer to the user based on their location.  Therefore, we need to identify up to 5 physical locations of interest.  Many dealers choose competitor lots or quick lube stores.
  3. Compose the offer/coupon.
    The coupon or offer should correspond with the location targeted.  For example, if we had chosen a competitor’s lot, our offer could centered around a price match offer.  If we had chosen a 3rd party quick lube location, a service scheduling discount would be most applicable.
  4. All set: Location Targeting is Active.
    When a customer visits one of the five targeted locations, a message with the coupon or offer instantly appears on their smartphone.  Should the customer choose to engage with the message, they are taken to the app for redemption or next steps.

Your goal with Location Targeting should be a showroom visit.  Incentivize your customer to visit your store by motivating them when the timing’s right.

What other incentives or offers work well when delivered at the moment of decision?

“Claim Your $25 Starbucks Gift Card with a Test Drive of any Vehicle”

“Your $19.95 Oil Change Coupon is Available”

Do you think Location Targeting works best pre-sale or post-sale?

How else could you use Location Targeting with your store? Let us know in the comments!

Ben Anderson - AKA "hair model Ben" is the President of AutoMotion, a leader in mobile apps for dealers. Ben is a regular speaker on mobile for many i...
  • C
  • June 10, 2013
I'm trying to understand how a dealer targeted the location and was able to get 7 customers to come to their lot.  These customers needed to have downloaded the dealer's app and have it running on their phone either active or in the background.  They more than likely they were customers of that dealership already and shopping around.  Customers just don't stumble upon and download dealer apps, it's hard enough to get them to your mobile site, let alone going to the Play Store or iTunes to download the app.
  • B
  • June 11, 2013
csabatka1 nails it on the head.  Location Targeting is only effective when the intended target (customer) has downloaded the dealer's mobile app.  Therefore, Location Targeting is most effective in influencing customers in the act of cross shopping the competition. These are customers who have previously interfaced with the dealership in some way (web visit, store visit).  Mobile-focused dealers are using creative ways to get their app into customer's hands on during the initial interaction. Everything from visiting the dealer's site to visiting the showroom provides an easy way to get the app.  
Therefore, the dealers that benefit most from Location Targeting are those who have put a marketing emphasis on promoting a mobile app communication channel.
  • V
  • June 11, 2013
After the "Anthrax Scare" of 2001, I called Direct Mail, "Direct Anthrax". After the NSA privacy scare of 2013, I fear that many customers will see this "app" as spying on them, because, well, it is.
  • V
  • June 14, 2013
I can think of no better to way lose my customer's trust - This is a horrendously BAD idea. UNLESS there has been explicit disclosure that the App was going to follow the client around, spy on them like a bad stalker, and report back to me that they were thinking about getting an oil change at some quick lube joint, maybe then it would be OK.
If you would be alright with explaining the above scenario to your customers, go right ahead, otherwise leave the spyware "on the shelf".
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