Automotive Blog

Going Mobile

Mobilesearch

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives; 67% of the German population now have one, alongside 75% of UK residents, and 69% of Italians.  Tablets too have seen extraordinary growth since their arrival around 4-5 years ago, with their penetration in 2014 having hit 32% in Germany, 41% in the UK, and 23% in Italy.  Whether we are communicating, scheduling appointments, researching a product or service, or even keeping track of our fitness, mobile connected devices support us in all aspects of modern life.

Manufacturer and dealer websites have to keep up with the mobile flow.  According to web analytics experts Sophus3, the share of manufacturer site traffic made up of mobile devices reached 45% in the UK by mid-2014 (and an EU-5 average of 36%).  ICDP’s own analysis of manufacturer sites conducted in late 2014 found that around 96% of UK sites were optimised for smartphones, but only around 80% displayed properly on tablets (against 92% and 66% respectively in Germany, and 92% and 75% in Italy).  This really matters, because Google’s search ranking methodology is changing in April 2015 to give much greater weight to mobile device-friendly features; sites which are properly mobile-optimised will score more highly on mobile search results pages in future, and those which are not will struggle to feature on the first page of results at all.

However, how car buyers are searching for information is only part of the story; mobile optimisation matters to the whole lead management process.  Around two-thirds of users simply switch to another site rather go boot up their PC when unable to retrieve the information they are looking for on their mobile device.  Manufacturers and dealers also need to consider the tasks that customers are trying to perform; many do not have the phone number of their dealer saved in their address book, but instead type into Google or perform a voice search.  In the results they receive, they increasingly then expect to be able to hit a ‘Call’ button to be connected directly to the dealership, without them having to copy and paste the number into their address book first.  It sounds obvious, but dealers need to ensure that the correct phone number is sitting behind the ‘Call’ button; it is not uncommon for the parts department to become the switchboard by accident, or for calls simply to fail to be connected to anywhere.  Better still, dealers should take advantage of the ability to use specific ‘tracking’ phone numbers that can be set to reflect certain types of enquiry depending on where and how they were advertised, and which can be linked to the correct recipient and analysed as part of the overall CRM and marketing activity.  Dealers should also remember than around half of all the emails that customers receive will now be opened on mobile devices, so again, the content must be mobile-friendly.

This growth of different types of online channel is challenging for dealers of all shapes and sizes; the technology can be complex, and investment needs substantial, regardless of whether a solution is deployed internally or outsourced.  Against this backdrop of high costs and weak returns, keeping up with mobile customers is challenging, but it is a race that the industry cannot afford to lose.

Written by Martin Schomann

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