By my children’s standards, I’m old. In fact, pretty ancient. That’s because I actually lived in a time before the Internet.They’ve always had it and don’t remember a time when it didn’t exist. While I think that times were so much simpler back then, I do understand and appreciate the convenience the Internet created by allowing me to utilize my smart phone throughout my day. Applications keep my day planned. I use it instead of a watch. I communicate constantly with family members. It stays with me no matter where I go.
I remember the day I first heard about the “Internet”. It feels like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my off-campus apartment while attending Troy State University. My husband came home from school with excitement all over his face. He had been at the school with a young man who had shown him something called the Internet. My husband was so fascinated with it! He began to describe “how cool it was” to just type in something on the computer and the “Internet” would find it and show it to you. That was just the beginning of our family’s love for the Internet. Little did I know, almost 30 years later, the Internet and all its offerings is what I would use to make a living and provide for my family.
I was a bit of a laggard when it came to adopting the idea that a smart device would allow me to do my job better. These devices were being distributed to the newsroom staff at the Savannah Morning News where I worked as the Digital Media Manager at the time. I’m glad I didn’t resist too much because the entire digital team utilized smart devices and set a great example for the rest of the newsroom. Plus, those devices provided a way for us to take pictures and video and post them to our website quickly. And that was just the beginning.
I couldn’t imagine covering the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Savannah without having a digital-first strategy. This event brought almost a million people to downtown Savannah. Taking advantage of that audience was always a top priority for me. One year I was determined to provide pertinent information on a mobile site. This was before mobile sites were very popular. My team and I added all kinds of information including maps, parade routes, and other details we thought visitors would need. After much promotion and advertising about this new mobile application, we were ready for our big debut on St. Patrick’s Day. However, we discovered that not many people could access the site because there were too many people in the area! I learned a big lesson that day about the limitations of digital.
According to the Pew Research Center nine-in-ten American adults use the Internet. Another interesting fact is that “Nearly three quarters of the world will use just their smartphones to access the internet by 2025,” according to Lucy Handly, a reporter at CNBC. With the obvious popularity of these devices, you wonder why all businesses and organizations would not take advantage of everything the Internet and smart devices have to offer. But just like I was, there are plenty of laggards that remain. But if the plan is to increase business, it won’t be long before they jump on board.
Businesses must take advantage of the features that mobile devices offer to enhance its products and other offerings. There is simply no way around mobile in 2021. We’ve all seen how it works for media organizations, retail businesses and even restaurants. But I didn’t really know what a vital role it would play in my new job as a marketing manager for seven heavy-duty truck dealerships. But what I did know is that it was my job to figure it out. Bringing my digital background into a job like this has been interesting to say the least. I realize how important it is to have a mobile strategy in this business. But I feel like making it a mobile first strategy will take some work.
We have made some great strides within my company as far as our digital efforts are concerned. It has been gratifying watching as the digital platforms are made a priority among the sales team. They have seen how it benefits the sales process. The buyer has so much information available to them before they even step foot into any of our dealerships. Often they start with Google to begin their search for a new vehicle or to find a repair shop that can take care of their truck. My staff has to be smarter to stay one step ahead of them. We have discovered that customers are no longer dependent on coming into a dealership to discuss a truck. Randall-Reilly, a company that helps market the trucking industry, released data that showed that 70% of research is done by customers online before they even talk to the dealership. They do this through Google, YouTube, even Facebook and Twitter.
Because I sit next to two salespeople at our Montgomery dealership, I hear firsthand the conversations that potential buyers have with our sales team. On several occasions, I’ve heard “I’ll just go look on your website”, when referring to our online inventory. Potential customers would make these statements as they held up their phones and walked away. After witnessing these types of scenarios over and over again, I knew as the marketing manager, I had to make mobile a priority – even if the sales team didn’t immediately appreciate the benefits.
I am able to view analytics that show me the percentage of people coming to our company website using a mobile device. This often gives me the information I need to prove that we have to focus on digital. Although real-time analytics fluctuate throughout the day, it’s interesting to see desktop and mobile change flip-flop between first and second. However, I have noticed a trend. Mobile, whether it’s a smartphone or tablet, tends to dominate.
If a company doesn’t have a digital first strategy, that’s fine. Needs and audiences vary among businesses. But if a digital strategy is non-existent, then there’s a problem. The reliance on mobile devices by the general public is too great not to capitalize on it. Leaving it out of your business will cause your business to be left behind. Consumers have too many choices. They will surely opt instead for businesses that provide convenient, relevant and necessary data on devices they can easily access.