The Showroom: Do You Control It or Does It Control You?


By: Adam Dennis, VP of Product Development

About 63% of car shoppers are using mobile devices to hunt for competitors’ prices while standing on the showroom floor and lot.

At first glance, this may seem to suggest that the lowest price always wins. After all, if customers can perform research anytime, anywhere, they would always go for the best deal in town.

However, savvy digital marketers and salespeople know that other obstacles can kill sales just as easily. In today’s mobile marketplace, poorly designed websites or poorly executed SEO strategies can make or break sales, profits, and even entire businesses.

Thanks to mobile technology, the digital marketing arena has extended itself all the way into the showroom.

The Needs of the Mobile User and the Challenges of the Dealer

The internet has made mobile product research a breeze, but it’s also made dealers’ lives more complicated.

Delivering the right content at the right time means reaching goal-oriented customers wherever they are, even if they happen to be standing face-to-face with a competitor’s salesperson.  Here are 3 winning strategies of how dealerships can move a potential customer down the sales funnel from conducting research to doing a test drive:

  1. Providing mobile-friendly websites and content is critical, since most customers are mobile users. 81% of car shoppers use smartphones to perform research and 75% of those will continue to use their mobile devices in a dealership.
  2. Immediacy is another major concern, since mobile users won’t wait for slow websites. Almost half of mobile users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of mobile users will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  3. Findability and convenience can outweigh other factors, which makes front-and-center positioning more important than ever. The top three search results earn roughly 55% of all clicks on both desktop and mobile searches.

Plenty of other research points to the fact that a successful sale depends largely on visibility and availability.

To stay in front of customers, it’s vital that dealers develop an integrated, shopper-centric marketing strategy. This should include an expanded web presence that delivers rich local content directly to shoppers’ mobile devices. A customer-first approach will cover the digital sales funnel from end-to-end and maintain a consistent brand presence from the paid ad to the showroom floor.

Meeting Customers in the Right Context

When dealers can help the goal-oriented customer successfully achieve their online objectives, then they stand a much better chance of earning the sale.

Here are 3 things that will help provide customers with the right content when they need it most:

  • Updated, detailed inventory pages – The first step to informing researchers is creating in-depth VDPs that answer every possible question shoppers might ask if they were to walk into a dealership. These pages should be keyword-optimized and they should list out the benefits, features, and descriptions of every car on the lot.
  • Responsive, content-focused websites – As mentioned, websites should load quickly and deliver the information that mobile users are seeking. Concise, readable content should deliver the most important information before calls-to-action. Pictures and video, which are becoming increasingly influential in the mobile space, should highlight relevant product details.
  • Reputation management software – Trust is more important than ever, so it’s doubly important to show in a digital space. Testimonials are the best way to do that: a survey from Dimensional Research indicated that 90% of customers say positive online reviews impact buying decisions.

To be successful, dealers need to understand that today’s showroom is part digital and part physical. Staying competitive in this environment requires an approach that meets research-focused customers at the start of their path to purchase, which almost always starts online.

Making the sale and delivering the right content requires a tech-friendly approach that enhances the customer experience and puts research-focused, mobile shoppers first.

This method of driving customers into their showroom puts dealers in control of their bottom line, just where they want to be.  It is the essence of Progressive Retail™.