(published in AutoSuccess Magazine, April 2011)
Even with all the talk of mobile dealer websites, most dealers today are content to “just have one”. That’s like back in 1995 when a dealer would say “Yeah, I’ve got a website” (not to mention it only supported Internet Explorer ). Are you really content to “just have one”, when according to Google, mobile searches have grown 500% from 2008 to 2010? Another study closer to our industry, run in October 2010 by Brand Anywhere and Luth Research, stated that 88% of US mobile phone users are more likely to buy from an auto dealer who has a mobile website. Did we get your attention yet?
So what should you look for when evaluating your mobile website and provider?
10 Questions to Evaluate your Mobile Dealer Website
1. Does your mobile website support all Smartphone browsers, not just iPhones?
The top 3 (Apple, Android, and Blackberry) represent 92% of the market, while Symbian, Linux, and Palm hold 8% collectively. If the top 3 are closely balanced in market share, don’t you think your mobile website should support all mobile browsers?
2. Does your mobile website support click-to-call?
It sounds fundamental, but the functionality actually has to be built in. When a consumer clicks on a visible phone number, does it automatically place a phone call? Consumers are less likely to copy and paste the phone number into the phone function of their phone, and much less likely to even know how to copy and paste.
3. Does your mobile website have a separate mobile URL?
Google has a separate index for mobile websites. If your mobile website does not have a separate URL, then Google may look at it as duplicate content. Also, it is important to have a separate URL for analytics and tracking of site traffic. Mobile statistics may have a completely different set of metrics than your primary dealer website.
4. How easy is it to search and filter inventory?
This is an absolutely critical element of your mobile dealer website. Shop your own dealership mobile site and see how easy it is to find a certain vehicle that you’d like to purchase.
- Are the buttons large enough for men’s fingers?
- How easy is it to change your search filters?
- How quick are the search results displayed? Slow mobile performance will run off consumers faster than anything else.
- Can you save your mobile search?
- How easy is it to navigate back to the inventory list?
5. Will photos show in an easy to view format for Smartphone screens?
I see lots of providers get very fancy with photo viewers on mobile devices, and I can’t say that we didn’t toil for days on end over how we wanted to display photos. What we found in this scenario is that “less is more”- just make it “Apple simple” - where it just works. Photos should be easily scrollable without some sophisticated auto-play or other non-intuitive functionality.
The intended use of photos on a mobile device may be completely different than on a desktop computer. Mobile consumers may want to present the showcase image to their spouse or buddy; but in addition, they will check photos for confirmation of vehicle equipment present on the car. For example, I would check photos for 20” wheels, second row bucket seats, navigation screen, exact color of flooring, etc.
6. Can you track conversions on your mobile website?
Tracking your mobile analytics couldn’t be more critical. A consumer may use a much more finite list of keywords when on a mobile device to find your dealership. For example, they may really focus on the “dealership name” keywords and variations, or the terms may be more focused on “service” related keywords. You can only know what’s being searched by tracking mobile and desktop analytics separately.
7. Does your mobile website have integrated CARFAX?
I know in my own car shopping experience, one of the first things I check is if it’s a One-Owner vehicle. As I browse on mobile websites, I do the same thing. Make sure your mobile website not only shows the One-Owner logo, but also links to the full report. If it shows the One-Owner logo in the inventory list, it’s even better.
8. Does your mobile website support video on all smartphones, not just iPhones?
Video has become one of the most powerful marketing assets available on the Internet. Why not have it on your mobile website? Consumers that hone in on a few vehicles are very likely to watch the video of those vehicles.
9. Does your mobile website use pop-ups?
Nothing is more confusing to navigate through than multiple pop-ups on a mobile device. Remember: there’s no system bar with open window icons at the bottom of a mobile screen. Most mobile browsers require a user to look at a series of separate pages to figure out which window they would like to view.
10. Does your mobile website support landscape view?
When the iPhone first hit the market, landscape view was limited to very few applications. Today, it is almost a standard for all smartphone-based applications and browser pages.
Test your mobile website orientation. How well does it perform in landscape view? Does it stretch according to screen orientation? Does it present additional information in a wider screen view?
The growth in mobile shopping speaks for itself. The rapid adoption rate means consumers are starting to expect that their favorite dealership will have a mobile presence – making mobile dealer websites both an opportunity and an imperative for the auto retailing industry.