Have you looked at your Google Analytics data lately?
Have you noticed the rise of visitors to your dealers website that are using mobile devices? When you look, you will see that 10-20% of website traffic is coming from consumers using mobile devices. It should come as no surprise that a majority of those users have Apple devices.
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Most dealers have been coached to engage consumers using social media. Dealers have active blogs, Facebook, and Twitter accounts but has anyone told them that they are disappointing the same consumers they seek to engage?
How are consumers being disappointed? Dealers share a link to a page on their website via Facebook, Twitter, Digg, or LinkedIn and mobile device users can’t always get to the page. The page is viewable from a desktop device but not a mobile device.
Technology Gaps Complicate Seamless Internet Shopping
This phenomena is caused by a current technology gap in most automotive website platforms. Most website vendors have created separate desktop websites and mobile websites for dealers. So, when a mobile user clicks on a link shared on Twitter or Facebook, it often will just dump the mobile user to the home page of the mobile site because the mobile site does not have page referenced in social media posts.
When you think about it, aside from the home page URL, how many pages that your social media team shares via social media can be viewed on a mobile device? You may be surprised at that answer. Take a minute to test the experience by clicking on your Twitter and Facebook links from a smart phone.
Testing A Pre-Owned Specials Page
I went to Andy Mohr Nissan’s website and clicked on their Pre-Owned Specials Page. As you can see above, the page displays perfectly on my MacBook Air.
If the social media strategist wanted to share this page on Twitter or Facebook or include this page as a hyperlink in a blog post, they would just copy the page link and post.
Unfortunately, for mobile users, there is no mapping of this page to an equivalent mobile page. When I clicked on the same link from my iPhone, I was dumped on the home page of their mobile site, shown on the right.
Is this problem unique with this website provider? No. In fact this is what is happening on most automotive social media posts read by mobile consumers. The reality is that mobile consumers get a poor conversion experience on primary automotive websites.
Of course if you are using a WordPress blog and tweeting/sharing those pages, your blog may have a plug-in to convert content to a mobile format. But step back and ask yourself how well is the article formatted?
Since mobile traffic will be increasing, what can dealers do?
First, they need to test that their current website platform has this problem. Most will have a problem.
Second, they need to contact their vendor to see if they have a AWT solution in the pipeline.
Adaptive Website Technology
The future of automotive website platforms will be the implementation of Adaptive Website Technology (AWT) also known as Responsive Website Design. You can read up on this topic my starting with this book with the same name by Ethan Marcotte.
With Adaptive Website Technology (AWT), dealers would have one website that automatically configures the layout of pages to fit the screen size of the visitor. If the visitor has a mobile device with a smaller screen, the technology decides which elements to display to create an elegant and engaging design.
This will simplify content development and management and larger auto groups can easily identify why Adaptive Website Technology will be a time saver for keeping multiple mobile sites updated.
Of course you can imagine that it will take some time for vendors to offer this as part of their standard solution but companies have started to come to market and others have shared with me that their programmers are busy implementing similar technology.
Dominion First To Market?
One of the first to market with Adaptive Website Technology (AWT) is Dominion Dealer Solutions with their latest upgrade to their Dealerskins platform. You may have noticed the Dominion display ads on DealerRefresh touting their “Chameleon Like” websites. I decided to reach out to Brice Englert at Dominion and ask him some questions.
Their new Dealerskins product offering will indeed support AWT and dealers will start to see the first live examples of their technology upgrade in August. Brice indicated that the Dealerskins websites will create a seamless web surfing experience regardless of the device used by local car shoppers.
I have to give the team at Dominion kudos for not only turning around the Dominion/Dealerskins technology platform last year but now to be the first to market with Adaptive Website Technology.
Is AWT a Big Thing?
Yes it is. If you are running Google Adwords campaigns you should realize that mobile campaigns can convert three times better than normal PPC campaigns. If mobile paid search is so hot, then dealers better have a better landing page experience. Dealers must have the FULL website content available to web shoppers and not a scaled down inventory search tool.
Adaptive Website Technology will allow dealers to maximize their content, video, and photography investments and maximize engagement regardless of which device a consumer chooses to use to shop for a car. This is long overdue and a welcome change.
Of course, the top website platforms will be announced this fall in Las Vegas at the 2012 Automotive Website Awards on September 5th. All of the best website providers have been showcasing their technology to the AWA review team and I have to say that there will be many new offerings for dealers to consider this year.
If you are planning on attending AutoCon 2012 you should make sure you arrive on the 5th to be part of the awards ceremony which kicks off the opening night.
Until then, I will keep readers updated with live tests of the new Dealerskins platform and other vendors that come to market with AWT platforms.
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