It’s 2017. The experts have been talking about mobile optimization since the invention of the smartphone, and now it is difficult to find a website that does not have a designated mobile version. Dealerships have joined this trend as well, and have made changes to their sites in order to accommodate the changing landscape. With designed websites that feature resized pictures and mobile navigation menus, many forward-thinking dealerships have embraced mobile shoppers’ preferences. There are also several lesser-known ways to get ahead of the pack, and take full advantage of your mobile website.

How did we get here?

Before we go into solutions, it’s important to ask: how did we get to this point? The first major shift occurred when car shoppers took their search online. On average, customers only visit 1-2 dealerships in person before making a decision. They spend over 14 hours conducting research. This makes reaching customers online even more important– it could mean the difference between closing a sale and losing it. Online shoppers look for sites that provide them with the content that they want to see, in a format that is easy to navigate.

Where is all of this research taking place? Studies have shown that people are doing even more research from their mobile devices. In fact, one found that 67% of car shoppers search for local businesses using mobile. 71% of respondents to one study reported using mobile during their purchase process. A study from Facebook showed that 2 in 5 shoppers preferred to book a test drive from their mobile device. And this trend is poised to grow– as more information and services become available to customers from their mobile devices, they will depend upon them as a primary method of surfing the web.

Millennials

Further, as millennials become a significant portion of car buyers, even more research will be conducted from mobile devices. While most millennials (62%) plan to purchase their next car from a dealership, and not online, they will undoubtedly utilize their mobile devices several times throughout their buying processes. One Google study found that 3 in 4 millennials utilize their mobile devices to perform online research at least as often as they use a desktop. 80% of millennials use their mobile device to perform at least one task during their car buying process. With this demographic becoming more likely to begin purchasing cars, dealerships are recognizing the need to optimize their sites for all mobile devices, phones as well as tablets.

Solutions

There are several ways for your dealership to improve its mobile presence, and the list is only growing. These strategies go above and beyond the typical “mobile optimization” tools that you’ve heard about, and will carry you into the mobile age.

Optimized Service Department

There is some debate about the relative worth of a service department, and how much revenue it should bring to your dealership, as opposed to your sales team. In terms of mobile, though, your service department has a leg up– people need service quickly. Imagine the scenario: a driver is sitting in a parking lot, when they see a “check engine” light turn on in their car. They hear that dreaded “squeaky noise” as they brake at a red light. As soon as they can, they begin to search for service options near their home or office. Most of these searches will come from their smartphones, as they need an answer quickly, wherever they are. Making sure your service department is optimized for and easy to navigate from mobile will improve your chances of people coming to your dealership. And who knows– those service customers could later become car buyers if they’re happy with their experience at your dealership.

Mobile-Friendly Tools

Even if your entire site is optimized for visitors, it is important to ask– are all of your tools? If within 10 seconds on your site a visitor is met with an over or undersized pop-up, CTA, or banner, it is not truly optimized for mobile. If your various tools do not interact well on mobile, and overlap or block your site, your mobile visitors will be driven away. When looking for vendors, be sure to verify that they offer a mobile version of their tools. Further, always check how a certain tool will interact with your existing tools on mobile as well as desktop. By not taking these steps, you are losing out on leads who are increasingly searching for your dealership from their mobile devices.

Listing on Google Maps

People conduct searches for dealerships near them, utilizing location services on their phones and devices. Users actually search things like “Honda Dealership Near Me,” or “Service my car in (zip code).” Being well-versed in SEO, you know that you want your dealership website to appear close to the top of their search results. But between paid ads and Google Maps listings, most mobile searchers don’t even see the organic results– it takes too much scrolling to get to that part of the screen (their fingers might get tired!). Listing your business on Google Maps is an excellent way to get above the fold, even if you are not prepared to start on a Google ads campaign. If you don’t, the average mobile searcher will most likely not even find your dealership through their searches.

Apps

More advanced dealerships can also look into developing a mobile app. According to one study, car shoppers who used a branded app were 73% more likely to buy from that dealership, and booked 25% more service appointments after making a purchase than shoppers without an app. Apps also give dealerships a competitive edge in terms of its targeting customers: using geofencing, for example, a dealership can send a notification about a great offer to all users in a certain area. Dealerships that used geolocation tactics actually reported a 295% increase in foot traffic. Apps and notifications provide a dealership another medium through which to follow-up with its customers in an unobtrusive manner. These are just a few ways that apps can help to retain customers and increase your bottom line– and the technology is always expanding.

Even if your website is completely mobile-friendly, there are still many ways to improve your mobile customers’ experience. Because mobile users are going to continue to make up an even greater proportion of car shoppers, optimizing and improving your dealership’s mobile presence will help to gain more leads and increase your bottom line.

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