Mobile Is the Driving Force In Canadians' Car Buying Journeys

June 2016

"Which car is best for me?" "What safety features should I be thinking about?" "Is this a good deal?" As Canadians pull out their smartphones to answer these questions and conduct research, schedule test drives, and find dealerships, here are ways your brand can stay along for the ride with car buyers.

The wheel, the bike, the automobile—like the great inventions before it, mobile continues to build upon its own potential. As smartphones inform the purchase decisions of billions of consumers worldwide, marketers are working around the clock to find new ways to meet the needs of these always-on customers.

One result of consumers becoming increasingly mobile is that they're now researching and making large purchase decisions on their smartphones, and that's good news for car companies. Mobile can inspire shoppers to consider your brand, recite safety specs and MPG for all models at the drop of a hat, and even send potential buyers on virtual test drives in their living rooms. These days, a mobile presence can be your brand's hardest working and most impactful brand ambassador.

More and more, Canadian car buyers are using their smartphones for help, and they're taking action quickly. In our Mobile Search Moments study we found that 39% of auto-related mobile searches that happen in Canada lead to a conversion, and 80% of mobile conversions occur in less than an hour of those intent-based searches.1

These mobile moments offer car brands countless ways to turn inquires into actions.

Identifying the micro-moments that drive mobile conversions

Mazda Canada knew mobile is one of the best ways to connect with car buyers throughout their purchase journeys, as 37% of its site traffic comes from smartphones and that number tops 50% when tablets are taken into account.

In order to reach and connect with these valuable mobile consumers, Mazda set out to improve its mobile presence and reach mobile consumers. Here are the five key micro-moments we've identified along the car buyers' paths to purchase and how Mazda drove conversions in each.

Which-car-is-best moments
Canadians start the process with an open mind: 65% of car buyers entered the market uncertain about what make or model they would buy.2 That means they're looking for ideas and inspiration, checking YouTube for things like "best 2016 SUVs" and turning to search for the "top 10 cars of 2016." Car companies need to be present for the crucial initial research phase, when Canadian car buyers have an average of three brands on their shopping lists.2

Here, it's up to brands to provide clear, useful information on their websites and even video channels—key places potential customers go to decide which car is ultimately best for them. Case in point: Last year, watchtime for auto review videos on YouTube grew by 20% YoY.3

Mazda Canada implemented a transformative mobile bid strategy to reach shoppers throughout their journey using a range of related keywords. This allowed Mazda to actively work to maintain top positions for mobile searches throughout the year.

Mobile Is Driving Force In Canadians Car Buying Journeys Nugget 1

Is-it-right-for-me moments
Modern consumers are strapped for time, and the car buying journey seems to get shorter every year. Today, car buyers want to gather and evaluate as much information as possible before heading to the dealership. And they can, thanks to innovative new tools like 360° videos on YouTube. These videos enable brands to give car buyers the "up close and personal" experience they're looking for before they head to the dealership, and consumers are taking notice.

Consumers are also increasingly turning to mobile search to find out all the ins and outs of their potential set of wheels, as demonstrated by the 154% lift in car technology searches we've seen on mobile.3 WiFi, for example, is an increasingly popular feature, and search interest for car WiFi is up 70% YoY.4

Mazda also noticed that car buyers are more likely to use their smartphone to book a test drive than car shoppers…

To help consumers looking to make the perfect choice, Mazda revamped its mobile site to make it simple for consumers to compare prices and book test drives anywhere, anytime. The mobile-friendly site navigation allows on-the-go consumers to compare competitors, request a quote, download a brochure, or build and price a vehicle.

Mazda also noticed that car buyers are more likely to use their smartphone to book a test drive than car shoppers, so it worked to ensure it is showing relevant ads in top positions at the moment a potential customer may be looking to test drive a Mazda vehicle.

Can-I-afford-it moments
Affordability is a major concern for most Canadian car buyers. Consumers want to make sure they're spending time looking at cars they can afford—so much so that car buyers spend 25% of their time on researching pricing/financing arrangements alone,2 and 32% of auto financing searches happen on mobile.5

Mazda recognized consumers' needs to compare and validate prices, even seeing that customers compared prices while standing at a Mazda dealership. So its mobile site now includes helpful comparison tools, showing buyers detailed comparisons on things like horsepower, technology, warranties, and certainly, price.

Mobile Is Driving Force In Canadians Car Buying Journeys Nugget 2

Where-should-I-buy moments
Even as people turn to mobile to help aid their car buying journeys, visiting a dealership remains one of the hallmarks of the car buying experience. And finding the right dealership is an important step for many consumers. Not surprisingly, this also happens on a mobile device: Search interest in "car dealership near me" has tripled in the past year.6

Mazda ensured its mobile-optimized site made it easy for customers to find a dealer based on name, location, or postal code. Mazda Canada and TeamMazda (consisting of Excelerator Media, a division of Mindshare Canada; Catalyst Canada; and J. Walter Thompson Canada) partnered with Google to reach users within a specific radius of relevant dealerships with location extensions. This way, mobile customers could easily get directions or call a dealership directly.

Combined with higher mobile bid multipliers (an increase of 85% on their previous mobile bid) and call extensions, the mobile-optimized site directly contributed to a high volume of phone calls to dealers as well as consumers looking for directions on search and Google Maps.

Mobile Is Driving Force In Canadians Car Buying Journeys Nugget 3

Am-I-getting-a-deal moments
Buying a car is a big purchase decision, and consumers want to know they're getting a fair deal. The automotive industry is certainly competitive, so customers are always on the lookout for incentives from dealerships or other regional offers. To aid in this process, one in four car buyers who used their smartphone for research did so in the dealership,7 and 31% of new car buyers who used their smartphone for research looked for promotions or dealer/manufacturer incentives.8

Mazda used click-to-call ads to make it easy for consumers to call quickly and confirm that the dealer near them has their chosen vehicle available at the best price.

Mobile Is Driving Force In Canadians Car Buying Journeys Nugget 4

A mobile-optimized site and forward-thinking mobile strategy connected Mazda to car buyers

Mazda's redesigned, fully responsive mobile site along with its dedicated paid search strategy allowed the brand to connect with car buyers in their key mobile moments. The campaign drove a 61% increase in mobile conversions and a 20% increase in mobile spend. Mazda also saw a 75% improvement in mobile conversion rates at a 25% lower cost-per-conversion.

Meeting consumers in their car buying micro-moments paid off big for Mazda. Think of ways your brand can follow suit by being there, being quick, and being useful for Canada car buyers.

With more car shoppers online, it’s time for the auto industry to simplify the journey