Watching car shopping behavior in 2017 confirmed that mobile device use has forever changed how cars are sold. There’s no going back. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. New challenges bring new opportunities, and we want to share those opportunities with you. Here are the changes and trends that make 2018 the perfect year to truly ace your mobile car marketing.
It is finally happening. The long-anticipated change to SEO. Google announced last week that mobile page speed will become a ranking factor in July of this year. The change, called the “Speed Update,” shouldn’t cause too much panic. The update will only affect a small percentage of websites – those that deliver the slowest website experience to users. One notable change is that the Speed Update will apply the same speed standards to all websites, regardless of the technology that was used to build them.
Google has offered many reassurances in the wake of the announcement, including a reminder that this update, like all Google updates, is about improving user experience. So rest easy. Search query intent remains the king of ranking. Slow pages that still deliver awesome and relevant content will continue be able to rank highly. Google’s central concern is user experience, which is why they’ve made it so slow websites can circumvent the Speed Update with AMP pages. A page with AMP that still has a slow canonical URL won’t be affected by the Speed Update – as long as the AMP URL isn’t also slow (which would honestly be shameful).
Dealerships with fast websites shouldn’t worry too much about the Speed Update, but they should be aware that these changes mean mobile is dominating. Mobile car marketing and online experience should be among all dealerships’ highest priorities.
None of us are shocked to hear that mobile use is booming. There’s ample evidence in our everyday lives. But still, it might be a bit surprising to hear that this year, adults in the US are expected to spend an average of 3 hours and 23 minutes every day on their smartphone apps, and 51 minutes browsing online. Not only are people spending more time on mobile than ever, they’re cutting time on other forms of media consumption. TV, print, radio, and even desktops and laptops are expected to continue their decline in 2018.
For car marketing, 2018 is the year to fully invest in mobile. The widespread use of mobile devices means that effective car marketing has to focus on the car shopping audiences accessible via their smartphones. Fortunately, with the increase in general mobile use, we have also seen a mobile car shopping boom.
A study by Google recently revealed that during the car shopping journey, 71% of digital interactions occurred on mobile. These digital interactions were defined as searches, website visits, video views, and clicks. Some actions are reserved for desktop, but shoppers are increasingly shifting to mobile. In fact, 58% of auto shoppers agree that in the future their smartphone is likely to be the only device they use for vehicle research. J.D Power found that over half of all new-vehicle internet shoppers use a mobile device to do their online research as they shop. In 2018, we should only expect those numbers to grow.
The benefits of a shift to mobile car marketing include being able to cover more of the car shopping journey. The lengthy and complex car buyer journey has always been a major challenge of car marketing. With car shopping activities switching to mobile, there is the opportunity to use mobile car marketing to reach audiences at some of the most important touchpoints in the buyer journey.
Mobile devices let us connect to the entire world in a fraction of a second from almost anywhere, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still doing business locally. In fact, local mobile search is huge. 78% of local-mobile searches result in an offline purchase. Now, that statistic isn’t car-dealer specific, but it clearly indicates the behavior of mobile shoppers. Local mobile searches are conducted to inform an imminent purchase. When someone conducts a local search, they are looking for providers of the product or service they want, and information that will allow them to compare the possibilities.
Successful mobile car marketing means capitalizing on the local mobile search market. This means heavy local SEO investment. High page ranking and solid SEO should make sure you show up on Google Maps (a must), but you can also optimize by limiting long-tail keywords in mobile local SEO. Even though mobile keyboards have gotten bigger, trying to type on them is still enough of a pain to limit the length of keywords on mobile. In 2016, 20% of mobile searchers used voice search, and as voice recognition technology improves, that number is growing. This means car marketing professionals need to be thinking about keywords that are spoken rather than typed. Local mobile search might be a lot of work to get right, particularly if it hasn’t been a priority, but it is essential to a successful mobile car marketing strategy.
Millennials are a highly coveted audience for auto dealers. Traditional car marketing doesn’t see much success with millennials. Why? Well, mostly, because they aren’t accessible (or are hardly accessible) via traditional media. Print and radio might be beloved by some hipsters, but it’s mobile that takes the cake for Millennials. According to research by Edmunds, a whopping 80% of Millennial car shoppers use their mobile devices at least once during the car purchase journey. The older generations aren’t nearly as mobile-obsessed as Millennials. The rate of mobile use dropped to 46% for people over the age of 35.
The top actions Millennials do on their phones during the car purchase journey include reading vehicle reviews, locating vehicles for sale, and researching vehicle price – all perfect points for strategic mobile car marketing. For the dealership that is concerned about bringing in more Millennial shoppers as sales from older generations dwindle, mobile car marketing might well be the answer.
Mobile showrooming has been around for a while now, and it’s a phenomenon that isn’t going away. In fact, 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store. Mobile use while on the lot is a way for shoppers to maintain control of the buying process. They can fact-check everything a salesperson says and compare prices or features in a fraction of a second. In 2018, this aspect of mobile device use is just going to get stronger. Facebook has seen these trends and has already updated their application to allow for this kind of mobile showrooming and social media advertising.
Car marketing in 2018 needs to be able to work with mobile devices on the lot, not against it. One way to do this is to welcome mobile device use. If you have a stellar dealership website, you’re able to promote your website as a tool on your lot. Having a salesperson encourage mobile device use on the lot might sound odd, but they’re on your website, which is what matters.