Tracking BMW’s road to a faster mobile experience

Jörg Poggenpohl, global head of digital marketing at BMW Group, explains why speed was the driving force behind the automaker’s game-changing mobile web strategy.

One of the most rewarding journeys I’ve ever been on started with a slow mobile website. In fact, it was BMW’s own mobile site. At the time, it essentially served as a web showroom, where you could browse beautiful, static photos of our vehicles. It was a great place for a BMW enthusiast to visit — as long as you had a little time to spare, because the site wasn’t particularly fast.

To be frank, it didn’t look, feel, or behave like a website built by BMW, where our brand is synonymous with performance. With speed. With the exhilarating sensation of moving from one place to another, with nothing but open road in front of you.

So we decided to rebuild our mobile website from scratch, to create a mobile site experience that would reflect what BMW represents. Not only for people who already know us, but for new car enthusiasts and for people generally interested in mobility and technology.

We had four goals for the new site. The first goal was speed. The second and third goals? Speed. Our fourth goal was to leverage our consumer insights to create a dynamic and resourceful marketing outlet.

We partnered with Hamburg-based agency Jung Von Matt to build the fastest mobile site in the industry — one that’s rich in content and reflective of the BMW brand.

Building a faster mobile site

As a performance automobile company, we know well at BMW that building great products starts with choosing the right components. To create a best-in-class website built for speed and great user experiences, we chose Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

PWAs are reliable and load instantly, even in uncertain network conditions, and provide an engaging, immersive, app-like user experience on mobile devices. And AMP’s open source initiative was designed to create webpages that load quickly on mobile browsers. As an added bonus, because the AMP framework is constantly being updated to ensure it’s reliable, we don’t need to spend ongoing developer resources to ensure it stays fast.

Before the first line of code was written, our creative and design teams agreed to abandon any feature that would slow down the site.

Speed was such a priority for the new site that, before the first line of code was written, our creative and design teams agreed to abandon any feature that would slow down the site. The result was a mobile site that serves as the perfect vehicle for the kind of content that embodies what the BMW brand is all about: design, innovation, and performance.

Engineered for quality performance

We were very happy with the look and feel of the new site. It’s fast, beautiful, informative, engaging — everything we wanted it to be. But that’s not even the best part. Because, for us, this was never just about aesthetics. We rebuilt our mobile site with the expectation that it would improve performance. And the results we saw far exceeded our expectations.

The new mobile site loads 3X faster. The proportion of people clicking from BMW.com to a BMW sales site soared from 8% to 30%. The number of our mobile users has risen by 27%. And SEO now generates 49% more site visits than the old site.

We saw almost immediately how AMP and PWA can help create the kind of great mobile site experience that drives real business results. And we’ve seen what’s possible when creative and development teams agree to prioritize site speed before the very first line of code is written.

Mobile site speed is critical to success, no matter what kind of business you’re in.

Our journey — from a slow site to an industry-leading mobile experience — has been eye-opening. It’s a testament that journeys, even long after the trip is over, tend to change how you see certain things. It’s now clear to me that mobile site speed is critical to success, no matter what kind of business you’re in.

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