Does anyone remember when car dealers thought the Internet was not going to impact their business and that they did not need it? Heck I sure do because I was behind a desk at a store and remember it like it was yesterday.  Well now we are faced although in a smaller scale a similar question, “Do I really need a mobile website”?

My goal of this blog is to give you some statistics and patterns that will certainly open your eyes as to what is happing in the automotive segment and what is with out question going to happen.

According to Morgan Stanley’s report for 2011 over half of all Americans now own a smart phone! I have to admit when I read this I was blown away, my first thought was I guess the economy is not as bad as I thought. Then as I continued my research I see where Google stated they activate over 900K Android devices everyday with the trend heading towards tablets.

Now that we know that customers are buying mobile devices and the forecast through 2015 is only stronger in the mobile device arena lets see how current mobile user behavior impacts the automotive industry.

Google is now releasing a lot of automotive specific information as they enter the automotive space with their Dealer Jumpstart Google Automotive Team.  There were a few specific details that really stood out to me.  In your mind right now take an internal guess of what percentage of automobile related queries happen daily via a mobile device?

If you guessed 20% you are correct the slide below gives you a visual feel for how mobile device searches is in hyper drive. Google is also reporting that by 2015 half of ALL queries will come from a Smartphone.

Now you’re a believer that mobile is here to stay and increasing daily. Let us take a look at some of these mobile users behavior.  The behavior of a customer is invaluable in your marketing efforts and by knowing this you can put your dealership in front of these in market customers.

What time of the day are they searching? Every vendor I know of including us here at Liquid Motors will tell you if you’re in the Internet business you need to be available when the customers are shopping.  Would you be surprised to learn that 35% of the time consumers are searching for answers to their automotive questions they are doing it when the dealership is closed 7PM-7AM according to Google? This not only shows how critical it is to have the information customers are looking for at their finger tips but to be available for them. Now that is customers service and great customer service WINS!

How Google says customers are engaging dealerships on the move and look at the percentage of customers actually doing price comparison while they are on your lot!

The fact that customers are doing price comparisons on your lot should not be a surprise heck remember the “old 3rd base coach” they would be on the phone with at home looking on line at pricing? Now they just have the ability to do it in their palm, plus with so many new apps like Redline that consumers are using they are getting trained to do this.

Here is your mobile ready checklist

Create a mobile optimized website. Your main dealer site may be visible on your mobile phone but there are so many functions that are lost and the user experience is lacking to say the least. With Google’s statistics that 57% of mobile users say they would not recommend a business with a poor mobile site and 40% of mobile users have turned to a competitor after a bad mobile experience using your main dealer site as your mobile site is just not acceptable in today’s market.

Make it easy for customers to get to your mobile site – use a company that utilizes device detection so mobile users are automatically viewing your mobile site not redirected or required to use a different mobile URL. Here is an example of a Liquid Motors Full and Mobile site comparison.  The site is http://www.mercedesbenzofgeorgetown.com/  if you wish to review the site yourself.Track clicks for “get directions” and “click to call”. Take advantage of your analytics they will allow you to make adjustments to your websites SEO.

Utilize tools such as QR Codes so consumers looking for answers or vehicle details can find these easily. These Quick Response codes should take consumers directly to the vehicle details page on your mobile website.  You can also use them on your mobile sites to allow customers to see more information or fill out contact forms easily.

Track and monitor results with your analytics.

Make measureable adjustments as needed. Remember if you make a change you want to know where you are at the time of the change so you can measure a positive or negative affect of that change.

Are customers doing reviews about car dealerships and what do you consider a review? If you ask most people what they think of when you ask, “What is a review” most would tell you a form the customer fills out. Well according to Google 80% of car purchasers will tell someone about their experience and in today’s world, 50% are doing so digitally.  Roughly 10% of these buyers will do so in a written or digital form submission. Word of mouth still rules the roast it seems.

What is next for Google, we know Live Chat for Adwords powered by ActiveEngage is in beta but who really knows I am sure there will be a lot over the next several months as they enter the automotive space full speed. I do know one item I have seen and since Google offered 6 Billion dollars to purchase Groupon® which was rejected a new product has been coming down the pipe line called Google Offers.  If you are familiar with Groupon® then you have an idea of what they are doing.  Not only can customers sign up to get local offers they are interested in like Groupon® but on Google searches customers can click on the “offer” icon and the current offer your dealership has running will display. No release date on this that I have found or heard to date.

Thank you for following my blog and all of us hear at Liquid Motors appreciate your input, feedback and support, without our dealers we are nothing!

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