Micro-Moments, Get There Early (and bring pics!)
Last week, we talked about Google’s “micro-moments” and how a typical automotive shopper uses their phone or computer to move further in the purchasing funnel. As they learn more about the car they’re interested in, customer research gets more and more detailed. We’ve all heard the Google mantra, “Be there, be useful, and be quick.” But after reading this blog post, you may want to consider getting there early, too. Let’s talk about how showing up early in the online car buyer’s path to purchase (with helpful images & videos) might help you sell more cars.

If you don’t recall, Google’s 5 Micro-Moments are:

  1. Which car is best?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

Video

More recently, though, Google released another report that deals with specific online actions during the earlier micro-moments. Their findings? Customers in the very first micro-moment (“which car is best?”) are apt to look at video content in their research. In fact, according to the 2015 TNS Media Consumption report, 69% of online customers (who are using YouTube for car-buying research) are more influenced by compelling video content than newspapers, print/online magazines, and advertisements on TV. After that, customers are more likely to do image searches for specific features on their desired model.

That’s right, you should care about the earlier stages of the path to purchase, and not just the stages where customers are looking for prices or which dealership is best.

Micro-Moments: Get There Early (and bring pics!)

Don’t do this, please.

So let’s talk video content. Obviously, quality matters. If your dealership has video content for models of vehicles, your customers are likely looking for it on YouTube. Are you hosting it there? Does it look like the image above? Furthermore, we now know that customers are more likely to consider video content at the very beginning of their purchasing path. So when customers are searching online “which car is best” for them, your dealership has a chance to serve them well-produced, quality videos. Google’s own research actually indicates that when customers begin their online research for their next car purchase, they may visit a dealership within just 1 week. How’s that for relevant?

Remember that some typical “which car is best” online searches will include queries like “best 4 door sedan” or “best car for commuting.” If your dealership is showcasing a Toyota Corolla as a great commuter car, then consider having video content optimized for those searches. People may also be looking for things like “Toyota Corolla reviews” or “Toyota Corolla specs.”

Images

As your customers start to narrow down their search fields and are considering just one model, they move into the “is it right for me” phase of the purchasing path. Research done in these kinds of micro-moments tends to include image searches, Google tells us. Why? If your customers are looking for specific features (like cup-holders, legroom, sunroof, etc) a visual aid will go a long way. Consider the quality of the pictures you’re uploading, and whether the image will meet anticipated customer needs.

Micro-Moments: Get There Early (and bring pics!)

Remember that your customers might be only 7 days away from walking into a dealership, so the more times they land on your website during their research, the better. After all is said and done, the customer is going to visit the dealership that has the right car at the right price, and will deliver the right experience. Having lots of helpful videos and quality images communicates that your dealership pays attention to the details, and is on top of things. Shoppers who use image searches in their “is it right for me” phase are more likely to visit a dealership than those who are using image searches in other phases of the purchasing path.

Google’s stats show that 80% of “pictures of [car model]” are done on a mobile device, and that the search interest on those images is up 37% year-over-year, as of September 2015.

See what we mean? You want to show up early in these micro-moments, and you want to show up with great pics.

Invest in Mobile

With mobile usage quickly surpassing desktop, you need to have a mobile-first mindset when optimizing your website. The key will not only be to have quality pictures and videos for your customers, but to make them mobile-friendly. That means getting them embedded & sized correctly so that they’re responsive on a mobile device.

When it comes down to it, your customers are using their phones to do in-the-moment research as they have short bursts of online activity. You might even call them “micro-moments” of activity (see what we did there?), which gives your dealership a narrow window in which to “wow” them. But like we said, don’t invest all your marketing efforts into showing up for the “where should I buy it” phase, or even the “am I getting a good deal” phase.

Valuable as those phases are, your dealership may see more showroom traffic if you aim to be visible in those earlier micro-moments. Get there early, and bring pics.