Choosing to ignore the mobile consumer is not an option for brands that want to thrive in the modern landscape. Mobile now represents 65% of all digital media time according to a study by comScore, so it should come as no surprise that smartphones have become a key component in the vehicle-purchasing process. A study by J.D. Power found that 51% of new-vehicle Internet shoppers use a mobile device—tablet or smartphone—to conduct research to help them find the vehicle they want at the best price. Nearly one-third (30%) of new-vehicle shoppers find the vehicle they purchase on either a manufacturer’s website, third-party website, or their dealer’s website.
According to the J.D. Power study, “Outside of the home, the location where new-vehicle shoppers most frequently use their smartphone to conduct auto research prior to purchase is at a dealership,” said Arianne Walker, senior director, automotive media & marketing at J.D. Power. “Nearly half—48%—of new-vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone, and 13% use a tablet for information gathering while at the dealership: primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory searches, and special offers and incentives.”
Who Are Mobile-First Auto Consumers?
According to a research study commissioned by Facebook and done by Ipsos Media, 71% of all respondents use mobile at some point during the purchase process. (Other studies place this number even higher at up to 81%). Other notable findings include an overview of “Mobile-First Auto Consumers,” the people who use mobile almost exclusively in their path to purchase a new automobile.
- 45% of Millennials (ages 18–34)
- 48% of Hispanics
- 41% of people with household incomes greater than $200K
- 24% have requested a quote online.
- 71% prefer to do all their vehicle research online and go to the dealer for the final transaction
- 76% know the exact vehicle they want before going to the dealer
Top reasons why mobile-first auto consumers say they use mobile for auto shopping:
- 44% use it to reach out to a dealership or salesperson
- 38% use it to book a test drive
- 34% use it to look up details about the nearest dealer
Mobile-first auto consumers are just as concerned about vehicle price, type, make, style, size, features, and reviews as desktop-first auto consumers, however, mobile-first consumes are further along the path to purchase.
- 44% of mobile-first auto consumers plan to purchase in less than 3 months (compared to 21% of desktop-first)
- 50% of mobile-first auto consumers shop during the day
Mobile-first auto consumers also use both mobile sites and apps to do their vehicle research.
What Does This Mean for Automotive Marketers?
1) Take Inventory of Your Mobile Strategies
This is of course obvious when seeking to engage mobile auto shoppers but as technologies quickly evolve, it is worth taking inventory of your mobile strategies. Your messages, content, emails, website, videos, and other digital marketing resources are all being viewed on mobile devices so keep this in mind and infuse mobile-friendly design into all your branding efforts.
Optimize your website for smartphone browsing to make it easy for shoppers to find information on the vehicles they want quickly, including up-to-date pricing and availability. Use mobile-friendly design in your email and marketing messages. Consider screen size and connection speeds when optimizing for display and performance. Be sure your landing pages are optimal for mobile viewing with streamlined content and easily accessible Call-to-Action buttons.
2) Mobile Users Seek Video Content
61% of mobile-first consumers say that video is playing a more important role in their shopping experience. And according to a report by Unruly, consumers who watch video campaigns on their smartphone or tablet are close to three times more likely to click through to a brand’s website than those on their laptop or desktop. Automotive marketers have immense opportunities to engage consumers through mobile video advertising.
3) Remember Mobile Users Still Use Their Phones to Make Calls
According to JD Power, phone calls are one of the most popular ways new-vehicle shoppers contact dealers. Auto shoppers researching vehicles on their mobile devices are even more apt to call a dealership. Yes – smartphones are still phones and consumers often prefer to quickly connect through a phone call versus completing a “contact us” form from a smartphone screen. Be sure your phone number is always front and center and that a phone call can be quickly made by simply tapping on a click-to-call button.
58% of mobile-first auto consumers say that in the future, their smartphone is likely to be the ONLY device they use for all their vehicle research. And 62% say that if they could complete the entire vehicle purchase process online, they definitely would. Automotive marketers need to start planning for the future as consumers shift from the showroom to the “online mobile room.”
58% of mobile-first auto consumers will only research cars on their phones in the future.
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