How digital is transforming the automotive industry

How digital is transforming the automotive industry

In this month’s RBH Mindset report, we’re talking all things automotive. But we haven’t stopped there. Sam Swinton, one of RBH’s dealer marketing advisors for PEUGEOT, has also taken a look into the increasing role of the online experience in automotive. Here’s what he has to say…

A whopping 92% of new car buyers research online[1] before they make a purchase decision, choosing to visit only two dealerships in the process[2]. To adapt to these new car buying experiences, dealerships and automotive brands need to include digital within their marketing campaigns. Here’s how they can do this…

An enhanced mobile experience

With 70% of shoppers using mobile phones to research products before purchasing, having a fast, accessible and mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.

Dealers need to be able to create an experience that satisfies shoppers, whether that’s providing clear opening hours, directions or contact information. They can even help complete most of the purchasing process online, enabling customers to choose the specific models, finance options or trade-in information. If there’s a positive experience, dealerships can see the results.

A good example of this is BMW’s mobile website[3]. During its creation, speed was a priority, so features that weren’t required were abandoned, while BMW’s content marketing embodied their brand pillars of design, innovation and performance. The brand’s relaunched mobile site loaded three times faster and visitors going from to their sales site increased from 8% to 30%. Mobile users rose by 27% and search engines generated 49% more organic site visits than before.

Optimising your mobile site, improving engagement with user experience and creating relevant brand content are all positive steps towards increasing web traffic, as well as increasing footfall to dealerships and, most importantly, increasing sales.

Reach the right people at the right time

Search is the most commonly used tool when buying a car[4] and Google search and display ads are important platforms for dealerships to advertise in their local area. You don’t want a competitor taking the number one position on the results page when a potential customer is searching for a new car that you can sell to them.

Depending on campaign objectives, a dealership’s targeting can focus on audiences who recently conducted car-related searches, are in the market for a new car or have previously visited the dealership’s website.

Currently, 60% of automotive searches come from a mobile device[5] and by targeting mobile users with Google Ad campaigns, you can put your dealership’s advertising in front of potential customers at the exact moment they make a purchase decision.

Tracking online and offline activity

When setting up analytics tracking on your website, attributing conversions to activity is relatively straightforward. Activities can include events like booking a test drive or requesting a brochure.

Although the majority of customer journeys are becoming more focused towards online for the automotive industry, some purchases have to be completed in person. It goes without saying that getting the keys to your new car requires a visit to the dealership.

In the past, tracking offline conversions that could be attributed to online activity was impossible and even now, it can be tricky. However, with the use of mobile devices, dealerships can track some of this activity through tools such as Google’s Store Visits. Accounts will need to be properly set up by enabling certain tracking features and a functioning Google My Business page.

With clear objectives and proper account structure set up, dealers can track their entire sales funnel, from brand awareness through to purchase. They can see what impact their advertising, website content and user experience can have on a customer’s purchasing decision. Attributing physical visits to digital campaigns, they can see what offers and models attract dealership visits in their local area, as well as better understand the return on investment that digital marketing brings to their business.

In conclusion

What goes into driving offline results and building better customer relationships? It’s about reaching and engaging potential customers through a more streamlined digital experience. Being in front of the right people at the right time. Tracking all activity in line with clear objectives. At RBH, we know that this is an approach that can work for any industry, with some small modifications.


[1] Google, The Drive to Decide Survey 2018.

[2] Google, Auto Consumer Barometer 2018.

[3] Google. 2019. Tracking BMW’s road to a faster mobile experience. Available at:

[4] Google, The Drive to Decide 2017.

[5] Google Internal Data, 2017.

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