Mobile use has become an intrinsic component of our consumer behavior—whether we notice it or not. For auto dealers, becoming mobile-friendly is a priority.
Putting mobile at the center of a dealership’s marketing strategy is particularly pertinent in 2016 because more than 85% percent of adults ages 18 to 24 own a smartphone.
To stand apart from local competition, dealers must develop a deliberate mobile strategy that allows them to be found by mobile consumers.
In doing so, dealers should establish a streamlined user experience that seamlessly funnels customers down the path of purchase. This includes developing a digital marketing strategy with several digital touch points, ranging from targeted local search to display advertising and social media ads.
I recently conducted an experiment with my 11-year-old daughter, Emmie, to better understand how mobile optimization impacts a buyer’s experience. I gave her my cell phone and had her search for a car on two different sites. One was mobile-optimized, the other was not.
It was interesting to see that her first instinct was to search the car name on the dealer’s website. For the mobile-friendly site, this was accomplished easily in a matter of seconds.
Then I had her conduct the same search on a non-optimized mobile site. It was same action, but it did not yield the same result. It took her almost a minute—and several bouts of frustration—to find the car I had her search.
To ensure your dealership attracts—and retains—local mobile consumers, I recommend using the following marketing tactics.
Capture (and keep) buyers’ attention
Websites need to be designed for easy navigation with the appropriate calls to action. It should be simple and intuitive for users to research and compare purchase options and make inquiries, if needed.
Mobile users typically have a different objective than desktop users: They are looking for information that is easily digestible and can be found on the go.
Having a mobile-optimized website also helps improve conversion and bounce rates. Make contact forms and maps—if applicable—easily accessible, because they are typically top of mind for mobile consumers.
This will help turn interest into action and, ultimately, increase the rate at which potential customers become buyers.
Measure. Report. Optimize.
So you have a mobile-optimized website—now what? Dealers need to analyze website traffic to determine where buyers are coming from, what they’re looking at, and how the overall experience can be improved.
Google Analytics is an extremely powerful tool for monitoring and analyzing traffic on your website. It’s comprehensive and customizable, which helps users who plan to conduct website reporting regularly.
This service must be embedded into the back-end code of your dealership’s website. If you’re not sure if it’s been set up, consult your IT professional.
There are a few key metrics that dealers need to monitor to better understand the online habits of their local buyers:
- Sessions. Shows how many people visited your website in a given period.
- Referral traffic. Shows where visitors are coming from (i.e., mobile or desktop?), and how they’re finding your website (i.e., are they converting from a display ad or from search?).
- Time spent on the website and pages viewed per session. Shows how long people are spending on specific landing pages.
The key takeaway for marketers: You can build a mobile marketing strategy comprised of local search, display, and social media, but if you’re directing local buyers to a site that isn’t optimized for mobile, your marketing dollars are essentially going to waste.
In the past, dealers have wrongly assumed that if they developed a web interface for desktop, it would automatically optimize for mobile. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. To avoid this, work closely with your web developers to build a website on a responsive platform that is accessible and navigable on both mobile and desktop.
It’s safe to assume mobile usage isn’t going to decrease anytime soon, so dealers need to adjust their strategies to ensure they’re not falling behind the competition. There’s a wealth of opportunity available when it comes to engaging and understanding mobile savvy customers—now it’s up to you take action.
Gary Galloway is the automotive digital marketing evangelist at Netsertive, where he serves as an adviser to top automotive brand executives and their local partners. In this role, he provides key insights on digital trends and strategy for automotive marketers. He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches a course on digital marketing and communications.0
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