CommentaryFeb 25th, 2014

Google’s Latest Automotive Shopping Study & What It Means for Your Dealership


In the fourth quarter of 2013, Google announced that phone calls would count for conversions. No big deal, you say. Well sure, the conversions counted for you and your dealership before…but now they count for Google. Yes, the $357 billion search giant continues to revamp its algorithm, and the corresponding implications are enormous.

Mobile and Mobile Search

As we look forward into 2014, it’s entirely possible that mobile is under-hyped. Oh, don’t misunderstand. It is hyped. You probably know you need adaptive websites and that approximately 35-45 percent of the visitors to your dealership website are coming from a mobile smartphone or tablet. It doesn’t get much bigger than that! In fact, if you want your dealership to stay ahead of the curve, then mobile search is the place to play.

Two years ago, mobile represented less than five percent of Google’s search revenue. In 2014 it will encompass more than 25 percent. Smartphones are everywhere you look, and smart dealers are following fast. Google Enhanced Campaigns took the issue to the next level, but the November 2013 Google auto shopper study entitled, Digital Drives Auto Shopping takes the issue — or is it the opportunity? — to even greater heights.

There are three things that automotive shoppers do on their mobile devices that are up more than 45 percent on a year-over-year basis. Those actions include:

  • Viewed images of cars and trucks — up 47 percent (and the No. one overall action)
  • Located dealers — up 46 percent (and fifth-highest action)
  • Compared vehicles — up 57 percent (and seventh-highest action)

Each of the above actions literally supports a dealer’s efforts to monetize. No wonder Google, in an effort to listen to their retail partners while simultaneously providing a benefit to consumers, is giving both parties what they want: relevance.

What It Means for You

By taking the directional information provided by Google and placing it next to the behavioral elements that consumers demonstrate, all retailers should stand to generate more leads and sales. Behaviorally speaking, people use their smartphones to (1) track information — scores, stocks, emails, news — and to (2) communicate — talk, chat and text.

So preparing your mobile sites for these behaviors doesn’t end with being found in consumers’ mobile search results. You also need to make it easy for them to take the next step (get more details or set an appointment), which means communicating the way they do on smartphones. Along with calling features, mobile chat and texting programs from companies like Contact At Once! can help you convert mobile browsers to real leads (and leads to ups).

Is your store retail-ready for smartphone use? Here are a few points to consider:


  • Is my website mobile-friendly?
  • Is the Click-to-Call feature activated on my paid search?
  • Are my pricing adjustments integrated in real-time?


  • If I can’t get them on the phone, do I have a plan that gets them on the smartphone?
  • Do I have a texting program in place that gives both the convenience mobile consumers want and the dealership control I need?
  • What does my chat program for mobile look like? In an environment that is lead-challenged, you have to have a real-time chat program for your desktop devices as well.
  • Are the phone, texting and chatting skills of all my salespeople up to speed?

Use the guidance from Google as well as this short checklist to ensure your store is ready to drive more sales in 2014. Google Luck and Good Selling!

Jim Flint, president and founder of Local Search Group, develops innovative automotive sales and marketing strategies for the 21st century. Jim is a well-known and respected visionary in the automotive industry. Fueled by his passion for innovative new media, Jim helps his clients reach their business goals and achieve unprecedented success by executing effective advertising strategies.

Authored by

Michael Bowen

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