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Micro-Moments and Your Mobile Website


It’s no secret that the once-linear path to purchase has been fragmented with the advent of online shopping, but it’s been fragmented even further with mobile internet usage on the rise. In fact, we’ve said this before, but as of January 2017, nearly 50% of dealership website traffic was from a mobile device. That’s a lot. As per usual, Google has been working in their secret labs on what makes these mobile customers tick, and they’ve come up with 5 key “micro-moments” that happen in the average customer’s path to purchase. So let’s talk about these micro-moments and what your mobile website can do to deliver on your customers’ expectations. 

1. Which Car is Best?

No matter what you’re looking for, you want the best one. Now that your mobile phone can quickly scour Google, Amazon, or a review site like Consumer Reports, it’s all too easy to do a cursory search to see what’s out there and what people are saying about it. Since cars cost quite a bit more than your average item on Amazon, customers want to make sure that they’re getting information from a credible source.

Buying a T-shirt that didn’t fit quite as expected? Not the end of the world. Investing thousands of dollars in a car that doesn’t meet your needs? That’s a big deal.

Google says that the average car customer will search for a particular brand of car, say “Toyota” first. They’ll likely read some content on Toyota’s website, visit a competitor’s website (like Ford) up to 4 times, and visit review sites as many as 6 times. This is all base research that will play an important role later on.

Examples of Searches
best 4 door sedan
best Toyota commuter car
sedan with good gas mileage

So, how does your dealership fit in this micro-moment? Serving an ad probably isn’t helpful, since these customers aren’t considering purchasing yet, just whether they should even been thinking about a Toyota Camry in the first place (to use our example from earlier). However, if you’ve been regularly updating your website with well-written & optimized MRPs (model research pages), that would be helpful to a customer trying to narrow their choices.


2. Is It Right for Me?

This is the stage of consideration where your customer is thinking about their specific needs. Information about cars (like gas mileage, trunk space, and premium features like back-up cameras) is readily available online, so that’s where people are looking. Why is it a micro-moment? Because our mobile phones make accessibility so convenient, a potential customer might pick up their phone while they’re waiting in a long line to do some in-the-moment research. Or perhaps they overhear someone discussing trunk space in their car, and the customer remembers that they were curious about that particular feature.

That kind of impulsive research is what’s pushing auto customers further down the purchasing path. Again, having detailed and helpful information on your MRPs is a great way to meet customer research needs while boosting your SEO signals at the same time.

Examples of Searches
toyota camry for commuting
trunk space in toyota camry
back up camera toyota camry

3. Can I Afford It?

Google says that 70% of auto shoppers used a mobile device to check MSRPs on their potential vehicle purchases in 2015. Remember those review sites that your customer visited? Well, once they see price tags, they’ll start to remember which ones were recommended by their peers. If their research pointed them to a premium Toyota Avalon, but they can only afford a Camry, they might start the process over, with an eye toward more affordable models of Toyota cars.

Pro tip: if your MRPs have an inventory feed on them, your customers can get a sense of pricing earlier in their path to purchase, and might be redirected to a different, more affordable model at your dealership. If you don’t, then you risk losing that customer to a competitor’s website that was more upfront about pricing, so the customer was aware of their options.

Examples of Searches
toyota camry prices
toyota camry lease payments
can i get out of lease early


4. Where Should I Buy It?

This is really where your dealership ought to pay attention. Maybe your potential customers have done some research and ran across your dealership’s site, but this is where they are actively seeking out the best place for a deal on their next purchase. According to a study that Millward Brown Digital did, one in three people using their mobile devices to research new car purchases will use those devices to actually contact a dealership to move the process further.

At this point in the purchase path, your customers are looking for the best dealership, likely one that’s near them. Of course, we talk about local SEO and digital advertising methods on this blog all the time, and this is why. If your dealership isn’t visible in local searches, then these potential customers are skipping over you and headed to your competition.

Examples of Searches
toyota camrys in arlington
toyota camrys near me

5. Am I Getting a Deal?

This is the last micro-moment that Google has identified in the car shopper’s purchasing path. Typically happening on the dealership lot, customers are using their mobile phones to confirm that they are getting a good deal on their new car. This happens even after they’ve already decided to buy the car, even. It’s in spaces like this where your mobile website has a clear job to do: deliver relevant information for these researchers.

Pro tip: drop a map pin around your competitor’s dealership and serve a digital ad that beats their prices. That way, you capture the customers doing a last-minute price check and can offer them an incentive to visit your dealership instead.

Examples of Searches
good prices for toyota camry
36 month lease options for toyota camry
interest rates on new toyota camry



So what’s a mobile website to do with these micro-moments? How can you show up when it’s helpful to your potential customers? Keeping each of these touchpoints in mind, start thinking of whether your website meets each individual need. If a customer is looking for specific info about a model, do your VDPs and MRPs have robust content to satisfy that need? If a potential customer is price-checking, can they quickly find the price of a particular model on your website? What about the mobile site? Is all the relevant content below the fold, making your customer go on a scrolling expedition to get useful data? Is your website’s content optimized with City/ST and location information so that you show up in local searches?

As per usual, you need a solid SEO strategy to go along with a slick, fast-loading, high-converting mobile website. Part of optimizing your website for conversion is making sure it’s optimized for search engines as well. There are also digital advertising strategies you can use to reach people at specific points in their research & purchase process, which we’ll discuss in a later blog post.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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