As a dealer, you’ve probably heard of Google’s “Micro-Moments”.

They are defined as “times when car shoppers turn to digital to help select the perfect vehicle for their needs”.1

These micro-moments reveal where shoppers are, what they’re searching for, and what answers they need in order to purchase or lease a vehicle. It’s valuable information that you can’t afford to ignore.

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That said, these moments don’t exactly lay out a plan for attack. They inform, but they don’t explain.

So, the question we must answer is: What must we do to speak to shoppers throughout their vehicle shopping journey – and how can Google help?

The Digital Mandate

I don’t need to tell you how important it is to be digitally present. The data is everywhere.

Ninety-five percent of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information.2 Ninety-five percent!

Sixty percent of all automotive searches come from a mobile device and some of the top mobile searches are related to dealerships.

More than 40 percent of shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks visited a dealer as a result.

Don’t forget the service department. Nearly 25 percent of all automotive searches are related to parts, service, and maintenance.3

There’s the data – it can’t be ignored!

The reason Google can help with this is because they are the number one website in the world4 and they have over 60 percent more market share than any other search engine.5

Unfortunately, dealers must find the connection between digital micro-moments and the physical world. If we’re able to reach shoppers digitally, then we need to know they will move physically – onto our lots.

Build a Foundation

The first step is to make sure that your marketing dollars are being optimized. Google recommends that your digital marketing budget fall somewhere between 45 and 75 percent of your overall marketing budget.

The reasoning behind this is simple. The data shows that vehicle shoppers are online and they’re making their decisions there – long before they visit your dealership. They’re only visiting 1-2 dealerships before purchasing a vehicle because they’ve done most of their deciding digitally.

They’re more informed than ever before and if your dealership isn’t present and helpful during their vehicle shopping journey, they will be less likely to purchase from you.6

Put your money where the people are. If you do this, you’ll build a foundation online that the rest of your marketing can rely on.

Go Mobile

As I stated before, 60 percent of all automotive searches come from a mobile device. If you’re not creating your marketing to be mobile-friendly, then you will lose potential buyers simply by not providing information through a consumer-friendly experience.

Want to know how your website will hold up to the mobile experience? One of the first steps is to test your mobile speed. More than half of mobile visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.7 Thankfully, Google’s got a tool for that.8 Your second step is to do what you need to do in order to improve your speed goal. This simple step could drastically increase your overall leads and conversions!

Thirdly, you’ll want to make sure everything – from website to social – is optimized for the mobile experience. . Google says that designing your website for mobile means focusing on simple, clear navigation that connects people to what they’re looking for.9 This means any deals, contact info, or forms should be easily seen, clicked, and/or filled out from a mobile device. And, any buttons/text should be sized appropriately so your fingers can easily navigate everything on your site! If your mobile visitors can’t do this, they will leave.

Make it Personal

Shoppers today expect your marketing to be personal – they expect you to use their data to give them a better shopping experience!10

They demand more. They’re ready and waiting for your marketing to provide them with relevant information throughout their vehicle shopping experience. They want you to utilize data to provide them with the most up-to-date and helpful information across every marketing channel.

If your targeted customers are able to find valuable information about your dealership’s inventory and incentives, no matter how they choose to engage with you, they’ll learn why your dealership is superior to others before they even walk into your showroom.

By using Google Adwords’ Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool you can learn to think like a shopper and ensure that your messaging will better answer their searches!11 That way, if they search for a vehicle or dealership, you’ll be able to provide an advertisement that answers their exact request.

VIN-Specific Remarketing and Dynamic Remarketing are also great tools for a personalized touch – These tools can literally display the latest vehicle a shopper has viewed.12 If they look at a vehicle on your website, you can follow them around the internet with that exact vehicle. If they were interested enough to view it, they might appreciate the reminder and choose to return to that vehicle’s detail page via your remarketing ad.

Customer match allows you to do even more.13 With customer match you can target your customers directly with marketing that you specifically want for them to see. It’s highly personalized and extremely valuable to dealers. You can utilize this capability through paid search, Gmail, and YouTube ads.

Or, you can gain new customers via YouTube or Gmail by targeting lookalike or similar audiences with personalized ads.14

With these tools you can consistently adjust your messaging to reach in-market shoppers, whether they’re customers or not, based on their online activities and what they’re more likely to respond to.

Follow the Data

How do you track leads? I bet Google can help you.

Google Analytics is your guide to understanding your audience, their actions, and their journey to your site and interactions with it – like top pages. Which, in turn, helps you understand how to market to your target audience better and even build out more custom audiences!

By linking Google Analytics and AdWords, you’ll have a better understanding of how to serve ads online that your audience will see, appreciate, and click – which will help you increase your website traffic and (ultimately) sell more cars.

From Google to Your Showroom

Like I said before, none of this is worthwhile unless it ultimately leads shoppers to your showroom. There must be a connection!

The automotive industry is continually growing, evolving, and advancing technologically and we must stay on top of the latest trends in order to reach our target audience before the competition. This is what the data shows. The connection here is that, at this point, vehicle shoppers must visit your dealership in order to test drive and purchase a vehicle on your lot. While they may begin their journey online, your presence there will ultimately lead to their presence in your showroom.

They might start with a Google search, but a few ads, a YouTube video, and a successful mobile experience on your site could be the difference between whether they choose your dealership or the one across the street.

This is how Google can help you sell more cars. By being there and being useful in the shopper’s buying journey, you’ll be able to move with them during this process and into their post-purchase experience. Google’s marketing tools can allow you to retain your existing customers and gain new ones again, and again, and again.