Automotive marketing has gone through many phases in the last few decades, but nothing has been as disruptive to the market as mobile phone technology. Back in 2015, Pew Research pointed out that 80% of dealers’ main demographic – people under 50 who earn $75,000 or more per year – also own smartphones and use them far more often than TVs or computers, and since then, smartphone and mobile marketing has skyrocketed. Here’s what every auto dealer should know.
How Customers Use Their Phones to Buy Cars
Studies have shown that about 90% of all buyers do at least some research online before visiting a dealership, and about 63% of those same people actually used their phones while they were at the dealership. It’s the age of information, and that means customers are not afraid to compare prices and features for days or even weeks before they make a purchase. Their smartphones allow them to do that research no matter where they are. In short, the more information you can make available to consumers online or even via text message, the more convenient the car buying process becomes, and the better your chances of selling cars to customers.
The Steps Involved in Buying a Car
According to Google Gearshift 2018, most searchers use a four to five step process when they buy a car.
- The intention to buy. Before doing any research at all, a customer must first decide he or she wants a new/used car.
- Auto research. Per the report, 47% of those who do online research started with a search engine, 15% started with a dealer website, and 14% started with an auto manufacturer website. Some 12% watched an online video about a car they were interested in, and this number is expected to climb.
- Making a consideration list. After doing some research, a customer will narrow down his or her choices to two or three different options, on average.
- Narrowing the consideration list. With this list comes even more research – and more detailed research, at that. It is at this point that most customers will start visiting dealerships, as well.
- The final purchase. The final purchase almost always happens at the dealership. On average, consumers visit dealers 2.2 times and take 1.3 test drives before deciding.
What the Smartphone Has Done for the Buying Process
With these steps in mind, it becomes even easier to see just how important the smartphone has become in the car buying process. As soon as a customer has even the slightest thought of a new car, he or she can pull up page after page of information, watch countless videos, and see which cars are most likely to suit his or her needs. As a dealer, then, your primary goal should be making information about your dealership and the cars you sell available to customers via their smartphones – especially in video format. Customers tend to trust what they can see far more than what they are told, so be prepared to show them your products.
In short, the smartphone has changed the auto buying process by putting information at the tips of your customers’ fingers. In a matter of minutes, they can research automobiles that suit their needs and find out which dealer offers the best price on the best car. It is up to the dealership to provide customers with the best possible research experience if they want to grow their businesses by building trust with their buyers.