5 Moments That Happen In A Car Buyer’s Journey That Will Change How Your Dealership Thinks

Dec 2, 2016 | Digital Marketing, SEO and PPC

Consumers aren’t hopping from dealership to dealership in search of the perfect vehicle anymore. By the time they get on your lot, shoppers today have already done their research. So when is the right time to reach them? Where? With what? Think With Google published their “Micro-Moments” research in 2015, and this new way of thinking couldn’t be more useful for your dealership today.

What’s So Mind-Blowing About Micro-Moments?

The big idea of “Micro-Moments” is that brands and advertisers need to “be there and be useful in people’s daily lives.”

It’s a new insight driven by the realization that, thanks to mobile, a consumer’s journey now happens in unpredictable fragments rather than predictable, daily sessions.

Think about how and when you look up information. I’ll bet that you generally don’t wait till you get home in front of your computer. Consider how you spend in-between moments at the traffic lights, or in line for coffee. Pretty fragmented, huh?

Think with Google identified that out of all the Micro-Moments that occur every day, the “I-want-to-know”, “I-want-to-go”, “I-want-to-do”, and “I-want-to-buy” moments are the ones that really matter to advertisers and business owners.

When these moments “hit,” they do so instantly, fleetingly, and generally via a device in the palm of a consumer’s hand.

And since they can instantly make or break your store’s running in the consideration set, Micro-Moments ultimately mean having your dealership where it needs to be, exactly how it needs to be, right when it needs to be there.

Exploring Think with Google’s 5 Micro-Moments That Happen When Searching For A New Car

1. Which-car-is-best Moments

According to Think with Google, 6 out of 10 car shoppers don’t have a particular make or model in mind when launching their new car search. Seeking guidance, these shoppers generally consult friends or filter through review sites like KBB.

And at this early stage in the buyer journey, consumers are already looking for reviews on YouTube: those filmed by in-depth experts, made by other customers, or showcasing two models head-to-head share equally high rankings. In fact, “of people who used YouTube while buying a car, 69% were influenced by it—more than TV, newspapers or magazines.”

Want custom video for your dealership? Check out these examples.

2. Is-it-right-for-me Moments

Once curious consumers have heard enough opinions from others, they move into the “Is-it-right-for-me” stage. A consumer in this stage considers their own reality and asks, “Will this car fit my needs and my life?”

These moments aim to narrow down vehicle brands. In this stage, the user tends to ask questions like:

  • How many people will it seat?
  • Room to pack our camping gear?
  • Safe for three car seats?
  • Is there a backup camera?

Video views are equally high at this second stage. Hesitant to step foot into a dealership until they have an idea of what they need, consumers flock to vehicle test drives and walkthroughs to get the full picture beforehand.

TIP: Walkaround videos are a great piece of content to send directly from your Sales team. Use walkaround apps to quickly create personal videos of your inventory and send them directly to your customer’s inbox.

But don’t think video alone is going to cut it. You still need to keep that vehicle photographer around!

“Search interest for “pictures of [automotive brand]” is up 37% year-over-year,” and 80% of these inquiries take place on mobile devices. (It’s not hard to imagine why—if Susan sees a car she likes while driving through the parking lot, she’s likely to use her smartphone to Google that make and model as soon as she’s stopped *hopefully*.)

Ensure you have photos of your vehicles’ exteriors and interiors, and highlight as many special features as you can. Additionally, 360 degree photography and interactive virtual walkarounds offer a useful and meaningful experience on both mobile and desktop, and will allow your users to control which features they want to see.

SpinCar uses interactive 360 degree VDP photos to put the user in control of the experience. Try it! Use your mouse to control how you view the interior of this car.
DID YOU KNOW? Interest in fuel efficiency is as low as the recent gas prices, but searches are incredibly high for features such as trunk space, towing capacity, and luxury items like panoramic sunroofs and backup cameras.

3. Can-I-afford-it Moments

Once they have what they want in mind, a consumer has a second reality check: “Can I really afford this?”

Each micro interaction at the “Can-I-Afford-It” stage is vital. Imagine someone on your site, looking for a Value My Trade offer form, and it’s nowhere to be found. Bet you lose that micro-opportunity.

Remember the key point of Micro-Moments: “being there and being useful in people’s daily lives.” In other words, meet the user’s needs.

Help them easily search for what they want while in this pivotal stage, whether by helping them navigate to your trade evaluation form, your prices and inventory, or your store’s phone number and address.

Heads up! NADA found that most auto shoppers are “payment buyers”, rather than “total price buyers”. Most are asking themselves, “how does this fit into my monthly expenses?” Provide tools on your site like Virtual Credit Apps and Live Chat widgets to provide ways for these buyers to contact you about alternative pricing options!

4. Where-should-I-buy-it Moments

According to their article, Google found that search interest for “car dealerships near me” has doubled in the past year.

With today’s consumers only making trips to 1-2 dealerships before making a purchase, it’s non-negotiable that you show up in the top results when a user searches for you in the “Where-should-I-buy-it” stage.

Furthermore, questions at this stage can often go beyond “where.” For example:

  • Where is the closest dealership to Sarasota FL?
  • When can I buy it?
  • What is still available? With what options, trims, and price combinations?
  • Where can I buy a F-150 near me?
  • Which dealership out of these 3 is best?
Heads up! Customers searching for used vehicle prices in their area are likely to land on Craigslist. Is your pre-owned inventory there to greet them? If not, consider finding an automated posting solution to increase pre-owned sales.

If an In-Market Vehicle Shopper near your dealership asks these questions and the answer is you, you better show up—and fast!

Make sure your Google My Business listings and PPC ads are dialed in. With PPC, check that your vendor is using free Ad Extensions to help customers make their next move, and include quick links to your New and Used inventories, Service, your phone number, and hours.

(Want more tips on ranking higher on Google? Read our latest article on Google Local Rankings here, and get more tips for Google AdWords here.)

In addition, double-check that your phone number is obvious on your site. 1 out of every 3 shoppers who used their mobile device as a part of the car buying experience located or called a dealer from their phone. Your phone number should be on the header and footer on your site, stand out on your Contact Us page, and present on your VDPs.

EXPERT TIP: Try going through each of the above steps yourself, as though you were in the market for a new car. Is your dealership there at each step? If not, consider a free Google AdWords analysis to double-check that your agency/vendor is employing the best PPC strategies.

5. Am-I-getting-a-deal Moments

Despite their diligent research in these Micro-Moments, customers will still land on your lot completely reluctant to trust you.

Google actually found that searches for Kelley Blue Book and competing dealers occur more often when at the dealership.

Buying a car generally is, after all, the second-largest investment of a person’s life. Your customers are going to verify they can trust you via their smartphone—even while they’re sitting on the other side of your desk.

When someone does double-check that you’re giving them the best deal, make sure you’re prepared to impress. Have plenty of positive customer reviews and a good response rate on your social media channels, and ensure your awards and accolades are on your website and written with SEO in mind. The top sites for reviews are on social sites like Facebook, Yelp, and YouTube. What are those channels saying about you?

TIP: Everything from your dealership’s ads, Facebook posts, videos and emails should be useful for your shoppers. Before publishing one more piece of content, stop and ask yourself, “Who is this useful for? What Micro-Moment might this address?”

Wrap Up: Micro-Moments Mean Being Useful In A Big Way

According to Google’s study, 73% of consumers say that regularly getting useful information from an advertiser is the most important attribute when selecting a brand.

As people journey through the car buying process and encounter these 5 Micro-Moments, they will begin filtering out dealerships based on what they consider to be useful. Why?

Whether it be because they couldn’t reach the dealership, some of the features didn’t meet their criteria, or they never even saw your store in Local Rankings, consumers will eliminate your dealership from their consideration set in a matter of moments.

To avoid being eliminated, know what the user needs.

To know what the user needs, dig a little deeper into these 5 Micro-Moments. Gather your team, family, or friends who have recently been through the car buying process, and discuss what these Micro-Moments were like for them.

  • Did they get all the information they were looking for from every store?
  • What was most important to them, and when?
  • How did they get deterred, and how quickly did it affect their next click or tap?

Once we can gain a better understanding about the key insights Micro-Moments offer, we will be that much better at bringing relevant and useful information to our customers—at the times they’re looking for it most.

Free Google AdWords Evaluation For Auto Dealers

Blog Author - Brooke Jensen

Written By Brooke Jensen
Brooke handles all of Dealers United’s digital marketing. In addition to her love for design and copy, Brooke also adores her two dog-like kittens, playing the electric violin, and walking barefoot around the office.


Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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