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FordDirect pushes dealership traffic via SMS

FordDirect is putting direct sales at the forefront of a new campaign that bridges television and print advertisements with mobile via SMS calls to action.

The company is leveraging location-based services on its television ads that feature specific keywords and short codes that consumers can use to find out additional information about the cars. The campaign is being powered by Hipcricket and builds on Ford’s lengthy list of mobile initiatives, which include mobile ads, applications and mobile-optimized sites.

“By using a mobile call to action, FordDirect can extend the value of its investments in print and television advertising through measurement and optimization,” said Doug Stovall, senior vice president of sales and client service at Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA.

FordDirect is a joint marketing venture between Ford Motor Company and its franchised dealers that helps promote and sell Ford vehicles.

Hipcricket is a mobile marketing and advertising company.

Sell with SMS
The new campaign deal links Ford’s traditional advertising outlets with more tech-savvy options via an opt-in SMS program.

The company claims that all Ford’s print and TV advertisements let consumers interact with SMS.

After sending a product-specific keyword to a short code, consumers are then asked to enter their ZIP code to be connected with local Ford dealerships.

Consumers can then enter their names to let local dealerships call them directly.

Users can also be sent local offers from Ford dealerships via SMS.

In particular, this campaign is unique to the Ford brand because it capitalizes on consumers who already have an interest in Ford’s products and ties it directly to sales at dealerships.

“FordDirect’s goal is to connect with in-market consumers through their preferred communications channel and provide relevant information that drives customers into the dealership,” said Kate Bullach, vice president of communications and public relations at FordDirect, Dearborn, MI.

So far, FordDirect claims it has seen a 14 percent conversion rate with consumers who interact with the SMS program to buy a car.

Two-fold text
The goal of any SMS program is to build up the company’s database, but by tying the program to real information for both dealerships and consumers, Ford is adding an incentive for consumers to interact.

Additionally, Ford is able to hone in on specific consumers who have a direct want to buy a Ford vehicle by adding local dealerships to the mix.

Ford is no newbie to mobile, and the company already has a plethora of apps, ads and mobile-optimized Web sites to boast.

The company recently added sync features to 10 Ford models (see story).

Additionally, Ford claimed its Spanish mobile site saw traffic equivalent to its general market mobile site in 2010 (see story).

“Within the next five years, mobile will become the preferred way for the majority of customers to access the Internet,” Ms. Bullach said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York