What Black Friday Taught Us About Automotive Marketing

Online sales for Black Friday topped out at $3.34 Billion; up 21.6% since 2015. Let that sink in for a minute. The prediction was $3.05 billion, which would have been just an 11.3% increase over 2015. This means sales were up almost 10% from what was predicted.

What does this tell you about today’s shopper?

It certainly does not say we are in a down economy or that consumers are scared to spend money. However, these Black Friday record sales provide a vital perspective that most are ignoring. In fact, I am willing to bet the majority of you reading this blog are ignoring the telltale signs of what’s happening. Don’t stress—you still have a few weeks to catch up. Yes, only a few weeks—I can assure you we are going to see a major shift very soon.

I am referring to mobile. Wal-Mart attributes mobile devices to driving 70% of its Black Friday traffic. Other retailers also received significant mobile traffic that accounted for increased sales on Black Friday. The wake-up call is that retailers saw a 33% increase in mobile traffic over last year, which is a $1 billion increase for one day!

These numbers are nothing to be ashamed of—or are they?

The fact is, the numbers could have been much higher … and when I say much, I mean much, much higher! Let’s be honest, we now live in a society in which we don’t even have the patience to wait 30 minutes for a pizza to be delivered. The same goes for mobile experience: Shoppers have no patience for a poor mobile experience and especially a auto dealers mobile website.

Case in point: 55% of all 2016 Black Friday website traffic came from mobile devices. In that same amount of time, mobile conversions (or sales) were at an average of just 2.4%, while tablet conversions were at an average of 4.6% and desktop conversions were at an average of 5.5%. As you can see, a lot of opportunities and sales were lost due to poor mobile experience, don’t let this happen on your dealerships’ mobile website.

The Drunk Person Car Shopping Test

So my question is, what can you do as an auto dealer so you do not miss opportunities due to a poor mobile experience? The answer is simple. See if your dealership mobile site will pass the “drunk person car shopping test.” The next time you’re out playing golf or having a few drinks with non-automotive dealer friends, ask them to visit your dealership website on their mobile phone and ask them to do the following tasks:

  • Find a specific car by year, model, trim level, and color
  • Compare two models based on trim levels
  • Value a trade
  • Schedule a service appointment
  • Find used car specials and new car specials

I also encourage you to videotape them navigating your dealership website and share that with your team.
Don’t stop with just one friend testing your dealership mobile website—have several non-automotive dealer friends use your dealership website and film them all. I can assure you it will be one of the most valuable and insightful actions you take to ensure 2017 is a record year for your dealership. And remember: What you learn from your “drunk person test” must be fixed. 2017 is the year that every marketing effort should start with a mobile-first strategy for your dealership.

Final thought: Apple iPhone is expected to lose market share to Google’s new Pixel phone in Q1 and Q2 of 2017, then gain it back in Q3 and Q4 with the new iPhone 8. The result will be that 75% or more of all website traffic will be mobile.

Think Mobile, My Dealership Friends!

– Paul Potratz

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