Have Google Check Your Mobile Site for Speed & Usability

Google’s announcement yesterday about the launch of their new PageSpeed Insights’ User Experience rules is really driving home the importance of usability and site speed on your mobile website.  They’ve previously discussed how important the speed at which your website loads (both desktop and mobile) is to their algorithm – site speed can impact the ranking of a website on Google’s SERP, as well as the likelihood of visitors to leave your site.  But at the end of the day, a fast loading site can only take you so far, especially when it comes to mobile devices.

Google is quick to point out that it is not enough to have a fast mobile website if your mobile site is not configured appropriately.  That means that users shouldn’t “have to spend another 5 seconds once the page loads to pinch-zoom and scroll the screen before they can start reading the text and interacting with the page,” because “then that site isn’t really fast to use after all.”  In other words, your mobile site needs to automatically adjust to each device.  One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to make sure your dealership has a responsive website.

To help web developers improve the user experience on their sites, Google has launched the new PageSpeed Insights’ User Experience rules that identify and provide suggested fixes for usability issues for mobile sites.

These rules cover such things as:

  • Font Size – make sure users can read your content without having to enlarge or diminish the screen.
  • Plugin Use – since most smartphones don’t support Flash, make sure mobile users can see the most important parts of your site. If plugins carry the value and content of your dealership website, your mobile users will miss the most important information.
  • Scrolling – mobile website visitors are accustomed to scrolling vertically, not horizontally. If you aren’t using a responsive dealership website, make sure your mobile site fits the width of the device it’s designed for.

You can use the PageSpeed Insights tool to test both your desktop and mobile pages. Stay ahead of the curve (or make sure you’re caught up) by checking your mobile pages now. Many dealerships are already seeing the majority of their traffic come from mobile devices (tablet, smartphone, etc), so it’s especially important you’re presenting those visitors with the best experience possible.

While having a responsive dealership website will solve many of the usability issues your site may have, it won’t fix them all if you have a bad design. Check your mobile website regardless of the technology it is built upon.

Using Google Analytics to Understand Your Mobile Traffic

As of March 2014, the average car dealer website gets more traffic from mobile devices (including laptops) than from desktop computers.  Many of the dealers that we work with have no idea how their traffic breaks down between desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.  They are used to visiting their dealership’s website on a desktop computer at the dealership or from their home at night, so they have a good understanding of how their site looks for customers using their dealership’s site on a desktop computer.  But most dealers don’t spend enough time understanding the mobile customer experience on their website.

According to Google, search is the most common starting point for mobile research. In fact, 42% of automotive shoppers start on search engines, while 27% of automotive shoppers start on branded websites. Those are both huge percentages of people looking for your dealership online – but how do you know if your mobile site is delivering what they need?

The best way to learn whether or not your dealership mobile website solution, regardless of which technology platform you’re using, is meeting the needs and expectations of your visitors is to use Google Analytics. GA data can help you determine if your adaptive website design is set up properly. For example, if mobile traffic is visiting traditional, desktop pages, you have a problem with your adaptive design or switchboard tags. Do you have a disproportional bounce rate on your mobile site? This could indicate that your website isn’t showing properly to mobile visitors.

DealerOn has talked before about the importance of having Google Analytics on your dealership website, and how to use that data to sell more cars, but with the drastic shift to mobile internet usage, dealers need to make sure that their website provider has coded their site so they can easily measure site performance on mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet at a minimum.

It’s also important to understand how to analyze your website data differently for traditional and mobile website visits. Your dealership should probably be tracking different KPIs for mobile traffic than you do for desktop.  For instance, some of the most common and important KPIs for desktop traffic are:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site
  • Pages per Visit
  • VDP’s per Visit
  • Leads
  • Conversion Rate
  • Calls

For mobile traffic, many of these may not be appropriate.  In fact, you may just want to track things like Calls, Clicks to Maps, and Vehicle Views for your website’s mobile traffic.  Whatever KPIs you want to measure for mobile, you should make sure that you work with your website provider to set up goals that can measure each of these metrics and ideally assign a value to each of them so you can begin to measure the return on your mobile traffic.

These are the types of questions you need to talk to your digital marketing provider (or website company) about to make sure you’re getting the readily available, valuable data out of your Google Analytics.  It is no longer just a good idea to measure, analyze, and optimize your website’s mobile traffic.  In 2014, it is essential to getting the most out of your marketing budget.

Automotive Mobile Searchers Convert…Fast

Earlier this year, Nielsen, xAd, and Telmetrics conducted a survey on the “mobile path to purchase” in three industries: restaurants, travel, and automotive.  The latest part of the study released pertains to the automotive category.

One of the most important things found in this study, in my opinion, is that roughly half of the mobile automotive searchers were “looking to make a purchase within the day.”  36% of this group converted “within the hour.”  This means that almost half of those searching for your dealership on their mobile devices want to purchase a vehicle on the same day. Over 1/3 of those will purchase a vehicle within an hour.

The study also found that there is a difference between the behavior of those using a smartphone and those using a tablet.  Tablet users spent more time doing price research and looking at reviews. They were also more likely to be influenced by positive reviews.  Smartphone users were more likely to search from their car (42%) and tended to convert more quickly than tablet users.

So what are these auto shoppers searching for? 44% are looking for your dealership location, 43% are comparing prices and 36% are looking for a phone number.

When was the last time you tested your mobile website?  Do you have your dealership’s location (with directions), prices on your inventory, and the phone number (click to call is HUGE here).  What does your mobile website look like?  Make sure you talk with your auto dealership website provider if you aren’t happy with what you find.

Is Your Dealership Ready for the Continued Growth of Mobile Email Opens?

I’ve written a lot about the importance of having a mobile friendly auto dealership website given the increase in smart phone usage, but when your dealership sends emails, are you also taking mobile into consideration?

A recent study by Knotice, an on-demand marketing software and agency, shows that 36% of emails were opened on a mobile device (tablet & smartphones) during the first quarter of 2012. This is up from 27% in the fourth quarter of 2011.  If this pace continues, half of all consumers could be reading emails on their mobile devices by this time next year.

Just as you need to make sure that your website content is optimized for mobile phones, make sure your emails are compatible for mobile devices too. Provide a plain text option, or at the very least, add text/tags to images and videos so that users will know what they are even if they don’t see them.

Testing is huge here – so send your emails to yourself and others to look at on your mobile devices.  Make sure that you are able to track your email key performance metrics (opens, bounces, reads, clicks, visits, leads, etc) at the device level, so that you can see whether the changes and improvements that you make to your email campaigns are meeting your goals.

Since over a third of emails are already being read on mobile devices, shouldn’t you at least make sure they look the way you want them to?

Google Announces Mobile Website Guidelines and Recommendations, Finally!

It’s official!  At SMX Advanced in Seattle, WA this morning, Google has finally announced guidelines and recommendations on how to build mobile websites that work best for users and Google.

Google recommends building your mobile site with a responsive design approach.  This means that your mobile site uses the same URL as your main site, and serves the same HTML, but uses CSS to change how the page is shown on the device.  Google says this is best since one URL makes it easier on users and Google doesn’t have to crawl multiple pages on different URLs.

Their second-best option?  Device-specific HTML.  This means that the same URL is used, but the mobile version serves different HTML and CSS depending on the device that is detected.

All of this is a little technical, so make sure you talk to your car dealership mobile website provider to see which approach they are taking.  You can read the full release from Google here: Recommendations for building smartphone-optimized websites.