July 22, 2015 Mobile Marketing

We talk a lot about the overwhelming proliferation of mobile device use among U.S. adults throughout the customer journey – and it’s no different for the automotive industry. In fact, four out of five shoppers have used their smartphone in the car shopping process. But that’s only a fraction of the impact smartphones are having. Read on to learn five ways smartphones are changing the automotive industry.

1. Expanding Multi-Channel Research

Due to the vast number of tools and information sites available (think dealer sites, consumer reviews, OEMs, Cars.com, Kelley Blue Book, etc.), auto shoppers are doing more research during their purchase journey than ever before. One study indicates auto shoppers have an average of 24 research touch points during their shopping journey, and 37% used multiple devices for research before visiting the dealership. What’s more, 25% used only their smartphone.

Keep in mind: multi-platform users reported completing 2X as many research activities (versus those using only one device) prior to visiting the dealership. Auto shoppers are coming to your lot prepared, so recognizing that and enhancing your mobile presence is essential to successfully interacting with these shoppers.

2. Helping Grow Video Viewership

Video is included as one of the touch points I mentioned above, but it’s worth calling out on it’s own. Auto shoppers continue to consume video online – and a growing percentage of that consumption takes place on mobile devices. The influence of video is evident as well: 65% of auto shoppers said they were able to narrow down their car options after watching a video.

Not only is video influential in auto shoppers’ decision-making, smartphones are also helping to drive greater video viewership all around. The IAB reports that 52% of auto shoppers view video on their mobile device – 49% higher than all U.S. adults. Stay relevant to your customers by including car videos and optimizing your site for mobile to ensure a quality viewing experience.

3. Powering On-The-Lot Research

An auto shopper ten years ago may have seen an ad in the newspaper or on a billboard, conducted comparative research online, and then arrived on your lot ready to talk numbers. That’s no longer the case. Mobile has reshaped how auto shoppers are researching. They continue to research even when they’re on your lot: 63% turned to their device while on the lot to conduct additional research.

Dealers who are not prepared for this new dynamic (i.e. those who don’t offer a good mobile site experience or aren’t transparent when talking with customers on the lot) may drive buyers directly to competitors. Mobile auto shoppers were 72% more likely to visit an additional dealership than shoppers who did not use a smartphone. You want to keep these engaged shoppers on your lot, instead of hearing, “I’ll think about it and be back.”

4. Building Confidence In Purchases

When they’re researching on the lot, auto shoppers turn to third-party sites more often than any other type of site (OEM, dealer, search engine, or reviews). They’re looking for unbiased information to drive more confidence in the decision being made. In fact, 56% of shoppers turn to a third-party site on their mobile device while at the dealership (100% higher than the second most used type of site).

What’s more, the same research indicates third-party site users have a stronger preference for the mobile site experience (42%). This again reinforces the growing requirement for the auto industry to create a seamless mobile experience for auto shoppers.

5. Shifting Conversions to Click-to-Call

The automotive industry has traditionally seen conversions like form fills, emails, or online chat conversations. These types of online leads were growing and overtaking phone leads – but smartphones and click-to-call phone numbers have reversed this trend. 60% of auto searchers on a smartphone would be likely to call directly from a search result if the functionality was there. What’s more, those searchers find it most important to be able to call when they are getting ready to purchase a car (59% for new vehicles, 70% for used vehicles).

And call they do. For one Houston area dealership manager, phone leads are up 46% over the past two years (vs. online leads). His response? To improve phone sales training, include call monitoring, and track inbound calls to understand what marketing is driving calls. Calls are sending people to dealership lots, which in turn is driving sales, and increasing the value of phone leads for the automotive industry.

Smartphones are altering how consumers approach their car purchase, and the automotive industry needs to shift accordingly. Check out this infographic to learn more about how marketing is going mobile.

About the author:

Katherine Buchholz

Product Marketing Manager, DialogTech

See more posts by Katherine Buchholz

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