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How to Use Google’s Micro Moments to Enhance Your Automotive Marketing

A few years ago, Google defined the key micro-moments of the car shopping journey. Those shopping moments in the car buyer journey are the defining road map of search engine interaction with automotive marketing. Now, we’re bringing you in-depth analysis of each of these micro-moments and the automotive marketing strategies, tactics, and tips that these insights reveal.

 

The “Which car is best?” Moment

This Micro-moment Explained:

This moment, characterized by growing interest and solidifying goals (i.e. to buy a car), is the beginning of the car shopping journey. At this moment, many shoppers wondering “which car is best?” will launch into researching broad categories and vehicle types.

Remember that 6 out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy. This is the stage at which they make that determination.

Example:

Andre is looking for a car that will fit his outdoor lifestyle — he doesn’t know exactly what he wants (although he might have a make or model in mind), so he goes online to research what the best vehicles are for in his desired category.

Types of Searches:
“best 2018 crossovers”
“best car for camping and outdoor activities”
“4WD cars with trunk space”

Website Visited:
Google Search Results
Manufacturer Sites
Review Sites

Automotive Marketing Applications:

You may be thinking that it seems pretty difficult to market to shoppers at this stage, and you wouldn’t be wrong. For the most part, shoppers wondering which car is best are the target for OEM-level advertising of specific new models or general brand awareness.

However, by no means does this fact imply that dealerships don’t need to cover this micro-moment with their automotive marketing. There are a few ways to use this knowledge to enhance your automotive marketing.

The first: Create content that these shoppers want to see. Much of this type of information that shoppers enjoy is on YouTube. Auto review videos are wildly popular on YouTube, and one of the most powerful touch points for shoppers.

The second: Look beyond the statistics. Car shoppers love YouTube, which is great — and means you can concentrate your marketing efforts. But it also means that video is a preferred method of information consumption. Support this by integrating video on your website homepage and Vehicle Detail Page to provide a sense of continuity.

 

The “Is it right for me?” Moment

This Micro-moment Explained:

The shopper has evaluated the best type of car — now they’re ready to explore the models and specifics that are best for them. This is where research intensifies. Car shoppers asking “is this right for me?” are trying to narrow their decision to the car that most fits their needs — usually practical and specific.

Some increased areas of interest, year over year:
trunk space — 15% increase in interest
towing capacity 30% increase in interest
panoramic sunroof — 31% increase in interest
backup camera — 23% increase in interest

Shoppers in this stage will be particularly concerned with the features that differentiate various models, and tools that make this task easy for them are highly effective.

Example:

Andre has found a few makes and models that fit his needs — now he wants to compare them based on the features he wants. His priorities are 4WD and decent trunk space for all his gear.

Types of Searches:
“SUV with trunk space”
“small SUV with best trunk space”
“2018 Make Model SE vs Make Model SLX”

Website Visited:
Google Search Results
Manufacturer Sites
Review Sites
Dealer Sites (towards the end of this research phase)

Marketing Applications:

Because shoppers could be landing on your dealership site at this early stage in their car shopping, your online customer experience is already crucially important. Car shoppers haven’t even started price-comparison yet, and they’ve already met the dealer who might be the one to sell them their next car. That’s a huge benefit to dealers. If you can make an early excellent first impression — being helpful, informative, and offering and exceptional experience all around, you’ll become a resource for these shoppers throughout their buying process — provided you have the tools that they’re looking for.

At this stage, we once again see a high preference for video content. The most popular type of videos for shoppers in the midst of determining “is this right for me?” are vehicle test drives, feature highlight videos, and vehicle walkthroughs that showcase the interior or exterior of the car.

According to Google, time spent watching these kinds videos is on the rise — almost doubling between 2014 and 2015. You can capitalize on the popularity of these videos by concentrating advertising and marketing resources and efforts on YouTube and using the detailed audience targeting options of TrueView ads.

 

The “Can I afford it?” Moment

This Micro-moment Explained:

Now that shoppers have narrowed their search to a few vehicle choices, price considerations truly come into play. Shoppers will likely have a budget or price point and be looking to get the best deals — either on leasing or buying.

Google’s micro-moments analysis reveals high interest in detailed, unbiased pricing information. In fact, search interest in MSRP & list prices grew 25% in 2014. Shoppers want to go into their interactions with dealers informed about price. Try to pull a fast one, and they’ll know the price you’re quoting is too high (and if they don’t already, they can find out with a tap of their fingers).

Mobile permeation and the rise of customer empowerment mean that price is both easier to find than every before and easier to compare, but shoppers aren’t just looking for a vehicle price. In many instances, the “Can I afford it?” moment brings up other questions, like trade-in offers, leasing vs. buying, and current specials and discounts.

Example:

Andre’s now at the point where he knows the vehicles he most likely wants. Now his top concern is finding which of the vehicles he’s selected is the best fit for his budget, and what the best options are for saving money (and headaches) in the long run.

Types of Searches:
“SUV price”
“Best car leasing deals”
“Trade-in value for [Current make and model]”

Website Visited:
Google Search Results
Review Sites
Dealer Sites

Marketing Applications:

It’s important to note that the “can I afford it?” moment can happen at different time. People consider affordability and buying at different times in the year, potentially putting off their budget-research moments until that time or intensifying their search. Consider adjusting your advertising and marketing to these seasonal variations in shopping motivation.

For example, Google notes that around February, there’s a serious spike in searching for vehicles under a certain amount — likely due to expected incoming tax refunds. Similarly, summer sees a rise in purchase interest, with Google noting an increase in searches for “lease deals.”

Dealers who are still embroiled in race-to-the-bottom price wars might shudder at the thought of more price-based marketing, but there’s a substantial silver (or even gold) lining. Marketing that is oriented towards shoppers in their “Can I afford it?” moment doesn’t need to scream the lowest price at the loudest volume. As we mentioned above, shoppers are looking for information about the best pricing options for their situation. Empower your customers (and your finance department) by providing the information and tools that shoppers want when they wonder “Can I afford it?”

 

The “Where should I buy it?” Moment

This Micro-moment Explained:

This is the moment dealerships agonize over. Shoppers wondering “Where should I buy it?” are great leads. They’ve made a decision (or almost made one), and they’re ready to make the commitment and take test drives. These days, shoppers on average visit fewer than 2 dealerships before buying a car — so being one of the dealerships (or the only dealership) on their list is the only way to get that sale.

If there’s any micro-moment that you have to get right, it’s the “where should I buy it?” moment. Even if you’ve gotten everything else exactly right, if the shopper feels like your dealership isn’t the one to buy from, all your hard work has gone to waste.

Example:

Andre is educated on vehicles and prices, and he’s ready to find a dealership to do business with. As he looks, he’ll focus on inventory, specials, and deals on the dealership’s site — as well as paying keen attention to dealership online reputation.

Types of Searches:
“Car buying”
“Best dealerships in [Andre’s home city]”
“Dealerships near me”

Website Visited:
Google Search Results
Dealer Sites
Review Sites

Marketing Applications:

More often than not, car shoppers aren’t looking for the best dealership to buy from — they’re looking primarily for the best car at the price they want.

Google’s research revealed that search interest in inventory is growing more than four times faster than overall auto search interest. Car shoppers have the power to view specific vehicles online without having to ever deal with a dealership employee — and they enjoy that ability. Search interest in inventory, to find if the right car is in stock, is growing more than four times faster than overall auto search interest. Your automotive marketing should capitalize on this by implementing website features that bring your inventory front and center during this important search phase. Inventory-wide free-text search can let your shoppers enjoy an almost seamless transition between Google’s SRP and searching for a vehicle on your site. You can also implement AMP pages to allow shoppers to see your VDPs almost the instant they conduct a search.

Again, mobile plays a tremendous role in the purchase process. Car shoppers use their smartphones for all type of shopping tasks, but these devices are exceptionally useful for getting quick contact and location information. Unsurprisingly, Google found that of those that used their mobile devices as part of the purchase process, 1 in 3 located or called a dealer on their mobile device. Making a mobile automotive marketing investment is a great way to bring in these enthusiastic shoppers.

 

The “Am I getting a deal?” Moment

This Micro-moment Explained:

As we near the end of the purchase cycle, car shoppers become more focused on the details of their purchase — namely, for automotive purchases, the finances and details of the expenses involved. This micro-moment encapsulates the shopping point where shoppers try to determine if the purchase they are about to make is an intelligent one.

This moment can take place on or off the lot, but often, it comes just before a purchase decision. Many times, the “am I getting a deal?” moment is about fact-checking, analyzing whether the price they’ve been quoted is fair, or if they can get a better price elsewhere.

Example:

Andre is at the dealership, has taken a test drive, and been quoted a what the salesperson is claiming is “a steal.” From his research before, Andre knows the price isn’t too high — but he now wants to know if the number he’s been given is really a good deal.

Types of Searches:
“What do you pay for [make/model] lease”
“[Brand 1] lease deals vs. [Brand 2]”
“Best deals on [make/model]”

Website Visited:
Google Search Results
Review Sites

Marketing Applications:

Naturally, offering a good price is a great way to make sure that shoppers in the “Am I getting a deal?” micro-moment don’t decide they aren’t actually getting a deal. However, there are other ways to adjust your automotive marketing in order to assuage these shoppers fears.

The first, easiest, and best option is to provide transparent and trustworthy pricing on your website. Include incentives and deals that apply to your vehicles to give shoppers the best idea of their price, and include it in the online prices that you display to customers.

A neat pricing stack lays out all the applicable and optional incentives - exactly what shoppers are looking for.

A neat pricing stack lays out all the applicable and optional incentives – exactly what shoppers are looking for.

Inherent in this promise is that your price online should be the exact price shoppers can expect to get when walk in. Shoppers who see a great price online, only to find out it isn’t representative of what they’ll end up paying will be disappointed, likely to leave, and possibly even leave negative reviews.

You can also prevent shoppers leaving during an “am I getting a good deal” micro-moment with a price-matching program, or even something as simple as arming your customers with tablets to search your inventory and specials — keeping them off their phones and on your deals.

Want to branch out even further? Consider paid search advertising that showcases your prices, or even your price-match program in order to conquest some shoppers from your competitor’s lots.

Bonus Tip: Mobile

Throughout each of these micro-moments, the focus should always be on mobile. As mobile proliferation skyrockets, devices become better, and data speeds continue to increase, dealerships that don’t deliver an exceptional, stand-out mobile experience will fall behind.

Throughout these micro-moments, search engines (even if they aren’t Google) play a huge role — they are the vessel with which most internet users navigate the web. Until users begin going directly to your website, your dealership must rely on search results — particularly mobile search results.

That’s where AMP pages come in. We’ve written about this extensively before, but it is worth touching on here. Implementing AMP pages that strategically display your most useful information (like your Hours and Directions and VDP pages) can help you reach car shoppers first during the most important micro-moments.

Here’s how that works on our industry-first Rocket Pages: Watch the Youtube Video >

If you found these tips to be interesting or useful, don’t ruin the inspiration now by forgetting that mobile is more important than desktop. Making sure that your automotive marketing is nailing each and every one of these micro-moments for your mobile customer sets you up for surefire success.