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Car dealerships are generally lagging on mobile. Recent research from Google found that the automotive, retail, and tech sectors had the longest-loading mobile pages. These categories also had some of the most bloated pages on the internet.*
That’s the bad news. The good news is everything else. We’ll go over the specifics of car shopper mobile use, and the car dealership marketing solutions to match.
*If you’re a partner of Jazel, you don’t have to worry about this, although you might still appreciate the insights below!
Mobile devices are tools of convenience. Everything they are designed to do is make some aspect of our lives easier, more pleasant, or faster.
The key to dealership mobile marketing is viewing a mobile device as that tool of convenience — and adjusting your marketing to capitalize on that. Helping shoppers find what they are looking for with less frustration is the key to successful online marketing.
To do that, let’s explore how shoppers use mobile as a research tool during their car-buying (or owning) process, and what is most important to them on their mobile experiences:
Even though standard automotive websites are some of the slowest and bulkiest on the web, Google found that 60% of all automotive searches come from a mobile device and some top mobile searches are related to dealerships. Mobile is a massively important tool for car shoppers and owners.
Shoppers use their mobile devices for gathering information quickly from a variety of sources, including text and image search, video, and naturally, apps.
Mobile is convenient for many car shopping activities, but it accounts for an impressive 70% of searches for car MSRP and list price. Additionally, 50% of trade-in searches are done from mobile devices.
Interestingly, image search plays a major part in reviewing vehicle specifics and determining shopper interest. Google reports that search interest in “pictures of [automotive brand]” is up 37% year-over-year. A whopping 80% of these searches are happening on mobile.
Mobile shoppers are also not opposed to getting in touch with a dealer on their mobile devices.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of searches for dealership phone numbers happened on mobile devices. That’s another indicator of the convenience of mobile. Why look a number up on your desktop or phone book and then dial it into your phone when you can simply click (or tap, as the case may be) to call?
The important thing to remember: Only 26% of car buyers in the past six months actually filled out a lead form. As of right now, leads can be earned, but the point of going to a dealership site is the collection of information, not the filling out of a form.
The best response to mobile shopper info gathering and research is to provide them with exactly what they are looking for. Naturally, your dealership website’s mobile experience needs to be exceptional pretty much across the board, but there are a few key points to focus on:
MSRP and Pricing — Pricing is a major point of interest in car shoppers on mobile. Whether they’re browsing inventory as they close in on which dealerships to visit (likely no more than two), or price-checking while on the lot, there’s one imperative: perfect online pricing. Your dealership mobile website should offer transparent and accurate pricing that’s immediately easy to understand. Clearly listed MSRP in addition to all conditional and deals or incentives on your SRPs and VDPSs helps shoppers find what they want, on your site.
Pictures — Shopper interest in images has a few important marketing implications. VDPs should have almost an excess of pictures, and these shots should be of the actual car — not a stand-in. Social media marketing focused on showcasing specific vehicles can also be enormously effective.
AMP — Getting your results to shoppers quickly (and importantly, before your competition) is enormously effective dealership marketing. AMP pages for key searched-for pages like your VDPs and Hours and Directions can make all the difference to a shopper looking for information, not frustration.
In the past two years, Google reports:
But most importantly:
In the past two years, there’s been 200% growth in car-dealer related searches for “near me”
These types of searches are usually phrased “car dealerships near me,” “used car dealerships near me,” or “[Brand] car dealerships near me.”
There are two situations in which we see car shoppers/owners using “near me” searches.
This involves thoughtful, ongoing research to inform a buying (or leasing) decision. Actions, like looking at vehicles on social media, reading reviews, watching videos, browsing your website, etc., are tactics of this first use type. This audience is likely who most of your marketing is geared for (as it should be, few people buy cars at the drop of a hat).
This is a shopper trying to find the best option in a time crunch. They’re looking for primarily for availability — but they care about what they are getting as well. They may look at a few options, but they won’t spend nearly the time vetting a business than they would have given a longer time period. Often, parts and service customers are the ones making these searches for quick solutions.
The long-term researcher wants to stay relatively local in their car buying — possibly because they foresee doing most of their vehicle’s service with the dealership and want the ease of a nearby store. The short-term shopper wants a solution close by because their problem requires a swift resolution, and they don’t want to (or can’t) go far to get that.
As results for these “near me” searches become increasingly sophisticated and relevant, this trend is only going to grow.
It is any surprise that excellent local SEO is your answer? People want to find the best options near them — all you can do is make sure that you show up as one of those options. Ensure that you are listed in any online local business directories and emphasize your location on your site. Most importantly, take steps to fully optimize your Google My Business page — and make use of some interesting and creative extensions (learn how to here).
If you aren’t particularly “near” where your general audience would be Googling from, you can also get crafty with a conquesting PPC campaign advertising your excellent prices and uber-convenient test-drive delivery options.
It goes without saying that speed is central to convenience. What’s the point of a butler so slow he brings your coffee in cold, or a remote car unlock function that takes longer than the time it takes you to walk up to the car?
If a mobile website isn’t loading quickly enough, our frustration escalates rapidly. The statistics on what that frustration is actually doing, however, is even more impactful.
Even if a website isn’t what shoppers were looking for, if it loads quickly, they can figure that out faster and leave less annoyed. This specific bounce-instance doesn’t make a difference for your bottom line, but it’s a wonderful practice to improve all around internet experience.
Here’s what happens to the probability of a bounce as mobile page load time increases:
That steep jump after 3 seconds means that ideally, everything above the fold has rendered within that time. Combine this with the fact that as the number of elements on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95%, and you have a good idea of how much fast and easy experiences mean to car shoppers.
Sadly, it doesn’t matter if your site is perfect in all other ways. If it is too slow, you’ll be ignored. The only dealership marketing solution is to get faster (as quickly as possible).
There is good news. Google reports that 25% of pages could save more than 250KB just by compressing their text and images. That’s the standard operating procedure for the best dealership websites, and you can go further to get even more speed.
At Jazel, we offer a neat little tool we call Rocket Pages. These are AMP-capable VDPs and Hours and Directions pages that are automatically generated from your dealership website — allowing inventory to get the maximum amount of attention in the minimum amount of time.
Here’s a familiar story told in mobile searches:
“How to change a tire”
“How long does a spare tire last?”
“Tire shops near me”
“Are tire warranties worth it?”
The end. All joking aside, you can see the progression of events here. A driver gets a flat, needs to put on a spare, and wants to get a new tire as quickly as possible. It’s a familiar situation with a vast number of iterations. The next story might start with a search for “average cost to replace bumper,” or “why is my car smoking.”
Stuff happens. And because stuff happens, more than 40% of auto service shoppers need reactive (versus routine) maintenance. There’s a substantial proportion of service customers who are in immediate need of service, and your dealership can reach out to this audience.
Mobile is a major source of service searching solutions. More than half of searches related to parts, services, and maintenance come from mobile. This is an exceptional platform for promoting your service department. Not least because:
Shoppers are looking for a quick solution without waiting too long, and they’re highly likely to convert if your site (or simply your GMB page) wins them over.
“Near me” searches are highly likely to bring up a Google Maps result, which means your Google My Business page is at the center of this solution.
However, don’t get wrapped up in the icing. Your website should strategically support the goals of these “near me” shoppers. Your service scheduling form should be effortless to use, and any deals or coupons should be quickly and easily available for use.
Be extra helpful by offering shoppers on your site information about certain service situations like tires, oil changes, and common vehicle problems. Create videos, FAQs, or other materials to help users on your site figure out if (and how) you can be of service to them.
Mobile isn’t just a buzzword anymore. As a dealership, it’s the central point of access for much for your audience. You likely knew that. After all, you’ve just read 15+ statistics that all indicate how important mobile is to car shoppers and how often they use as a car shopping tool.
What comes next is what truly matters. What will you focus on with your mobile strategy? What challenges do you think you will face? What successes do you want to see from mobile? Sadly, this is where our ability to deliver the answers runs out. All that depends on your dealership, your website, and the limits of your drive and creativity.