Why Mobile-First Marketing Matters To Automotive Dealers

Auto deal­ers can suc­ceed at mobile-first mar­ket­ing by fol­low­ing these best prac­tices.

Troy Smith By Troy Smith from Search Optics. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Mobile has nev­er been more impor­tant to the auto­mo­tive indus­try. Recent research shows that 63 per­cent of car shop­pers engage in “show­room­ing” – exam­in­ing mer­chan­dise online via mobile while phys­i­cal­ly shop­ping an auto lot. Of the mobile con­tent sought out by these shop­pers, 51 per­cent per­tains to price, pay­ments and offers, and 29 per­cent is inven­to­ry infor­ma­tion. These num­bers indi­cate that large num­bers of cus­tomers are rely­ing on mobile not just for pre­lim­i­nary research, but also as they make final deci­sions about what to pur­chase and where.

It is imper­a­tive that auto deal­ers reach poten­tial buy­ers dur­ing the crit­i­cal final stages of the shop­ping process. But with so many cus­tomers using mobile devices to cross-shop right from the deal­er show­room, get­ting and keep­ing their atten­tion is more chal­leng­ing than ever.

Cus­tomers need a sim­ple, reli­able way to access inven­to­ry and pric­ing infor­ma­tion from their mobile devices. If a buy­er lands on a dealer’s mobile web­site and it’s miss­ing key fea­tures and func­tion­al­i­ty that help make their buy­ing expe­ri­ence easy, that deal­er will like­ly lose the cus­tomer to a com­peti­tor.

In this envi­ron­ment, stan­dard mobile-friend­ly web­site design isn’t enough. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, deal­ers have tak­en an adap­tive approach, which uses a pre­de­fined lay­out set for pop­u­lar devices. It strips out key fea­tures of a reg­u­lar desk­top web­site to make it fit onto small­er screens, result­ing in web­sites that do not pro­vide a con­sis­tent expe­ri­ence across all devices – and that may not func­tion at all for some mobile users.

The Impact of Mobile-First Web Design

To stay com­pet­i­tive, auto­mo­tive deal­ers must deliv­er infor­ma­tion about their inven­to­ry and offer­ings in a for­mat that’s mobile-first, not just mobile-friend­ly.

A key com­po­nent of a mobile-first approach is respon­sive web design, which brings cus­tomers a ful­ly rel­e­vant, view­able, and search­able expe­ri­ence. Because a respon­sive design doesn’t com­pro­mise the integri­ty of the exist­ing web­site, it deliv­ers the best pos­si­ble user expe­ri­ence on any device, any time.

Addi­tion­al­ly, a respon­sive web­site pro­vides a vast­ly greater degree of func­tion­al­i­ty for the con­sumer, cre­at­ing a major com­pet­i­tive advan­tage for deal­ers who are will­ing to embrace a mobile-first men­tal­i­ty. When users can more eas­i­ly find the infor­ma­tion they need, engage­ment increas­es, which is why respon­sive web design has been proven to gen­er­ate bet­ter leads and improve deal­er­ship calls and vis­its.

The 5 Keys to a Mobile-First Approach

Deal­ers can suc­ceed at mobile-first mar­ket­ing by fol­low­ing these best prac­tices for respon­sive web design:

  • Form begets func­tion: Mobile-first web design means think­ing about the needs of mobile users before any­thing else. When build­ing an inven­to­ry search tool, for exam­ple, it’s crit­i­cal that the inter­face is ful­ly func­tion­al and easy for cus­tomers to use on mobile. Then back into the desk­top ver­sion, which will only be rich­er and fuller in func­tion­al­i­ty.
  • It’s all about the results: Regard­less of how web­site design­ers think a mobile site should look and func­tion, the key is test­ing to make sure the users are get­ting what they want. The func­tion­al­i­ty of a mobile site should be the first pri­or­i­ty, not an after­thought as it often is with tra­di­tion­al “mobile-friend­ly” sites.
  • Know what they’re look­ing for: A mobile-first web­site pro­vides users with easy access to con­tent they’re look­ing for. While it may not be fea­si­ble to deliv­er all the con­tent users would see on a larg­er screen, it’s still pos­si­ble to give them access to the most impor­tant infor­ma­tion.
  • Keep them engaged: In order to keep cus­tomers engaged, it’s crit­i­cal to design mobile-first web­sites with the user’s per­spec­tive in mind. This means tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion what they’re look­ing for and how they’ll find it. For exam­ple, it’s impor­tant to direct them to a vehi­cle of choice, a phone num­ber, a CTA, or oth­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion.
  • Pri­or­i­tize con­tent: Mobile-first web­site design­ers need to pri­or­i­tize con­tent, since not every piece of con­tent can be viewed on a small screen. Thought­ful pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of con­tent means users are always see­ing the most impor­tant mes­sage. It’s also crit­i­cal that CTAs are log­i­cal for mobile users; for exam­ple, users are unlike­ly to fill out a form on a mobile device while on the go.

Mobile Is Critical For Auto Dealers

In near­ly every indus­try, shop­pers have come to expect a ful­ly immer­sive mobile expe­ri­ence that offers easy access to prod­uct infor­ma­tion on any device. And just as impor­tant as the user expe­ri­ence is Google’s recent announce­ment of its plans to add a mobile rank­ings fac­tor to its algo­rithm.

Google already gives mobile-friend­ly sites an advan­tage by tag­ging them for users. Soon, sites that haven’t been designed for mobile might not show up in search at all. These devel­op­ments mean mobile-first mar­ket­ing using a respon­sive approach to web­site design will only become more crit­i­cal — for most any retail busi­ness.

Are you deliv­er­ing infor­ma­tion to con­sumers about inven­to­ry and offer­ings in a for­mat that’s mobile-first?

Troy Smith

Written by Troy Smith

President, Search Optics

Troy Smith is president of Search Optics, a leading digital marketing provider with a specialty in automotive. Troy has a diverse background in digital marketing, technology, automotive and sales, and he helps thousands of automotive dealers and OEMs integrate digital marketing campaigns that emphasize quality lead generation.

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