Micro-Moments Signal a Shift in Auto Buying Behavior
Tier10 | On 10, Sep 2019
In 2015, Google coined the term “micro-moments” to describe times when individuals reflexively use a smartphone to act on a need. Google describes them as “intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.”
In 2017, Jay Baer cited the mapping of micro-moments as one of the hottest content-marketing trends. He asserted that “brands must map all places and ways customers can interact and engage with them.” They must then deliver optimized content to these places, with precision.
Micro-moments are more energized, intense, and focused as ever as the improvements in smartphones and high-speed, wireless internet access combine to deliver information as quickly as humans think of questions. These are moments when individuals:
- Want to know
- Want to go
- Want to do
- Want to buy
Individuals are empowered to identify a need, address it and move on. For effective marketing, it is vital that you define and understand your customers’ “want to buy” moments. Master micro-moments, and you’ll see more mobile conversions. You’ll also be more relevant to your customer.
It all begins with quick-loading web pages. If your pages load slow, you won’t even get out of the starting gate. Don’t underestimate the importance of load times. Users do more than get impatient, they get worried, too. When 750 adults were surveyed, 78 percent said they worry about security when they encounter slow sites. Two-thirds said they distrust brands with slow-loading sites. Various surveys suggest that most users “bounce” in five seconds or less.
Strategic Importance of Micro-Moments
One study cited by ZDNet calculates that consumers spend an average of 5.4 hours per day on their smartphones. However, you have mere seconds to capture their attention when there’s a micro-moment. In that instant, you must quickly communicate what you have to offer.
Hone in on smartphone micro-moments to take advantage of these realities:
- Today’s consumers are not as committed to brands
- You can grab customers from the competition
- Consumers often discover new brands during micro-moments
Studies suggest that 9 in 10 smartphone users are not sure of the brand they want when searching for information online. About a half discovered a new brand/product while performing internet searches. Furthermore, about a third have purchased from an unanticipated source, one that delivered them the desired information exactly when they wanted it. Contrast these statistics with the brand loyalty that automakers used to enjoy.
Increasingly, the spoils go to those who are nimble and focused enough to master micro-moments in the auto industry.
To win micro-moments, you must identify them first. Find out how your customers are researching and buying. Then, be there when and where they need you. But connecting with your prospective buyers in a moment of need is not enough. You must deliver dynamic content that answers the pressing questions they have.
Once you’ve engaged the potential buyer, you want to facilitate a purchase in every way possible by providing multiple paths to purchase. Always minimize the number of clicks at every point in the online experience. Finally, measure all customer behavior on the internet to understand how different channels motivate consumers to act. Apply this data to your strategy so you aren’t reinventing the proverbial wheel again and again.
Mastering Micro-Moments in the Automotive Industry
An estimated 95 percent of car buyers use digital information during the buying process. The number of buyers who begin their search online outnumbers those who begin at a dealership by a 2:1 margin. All of this online research diminishes foot traffic at dealerships. The casual visitor is less frequent, and the well-informed visitor who is more sharply focused on buying is more frequent.
Thanks to the sheer quantity of micro-moments, precise and effective responses are vitally important. If your site loads slowly or is too convoluted your prospective buyer may jump to a competitor’s site within a second or two.
The old, linear approach to marketing has faded. It is being replaced in part by a pressing need to master micro-moments across multiple dimensions. This new multi-faceted approach is far more than the nonspecific pursuit of ad impressions. For example, in the right micro-moment, there’s a chance to go straight from that first impression to an appointment for a test drive.
Therefore, you want to relentlessly identify micro-moments in the auto-buying process. Sometimes an automotive micro-moment occurs at home in the evening when the prospective buyer gets the urge to do some research online. Such moments also occur at the dealership. During a customer visit, what are the best ways to eliminate distractions and focus attention where it’s most productive?
Micro-moments and Tech
It is often effective to respond to your customers’ micro-moments with carefully deployed tech. For example, consider chatbots, voice interfacing, and in-store beacons.
When it comes to internet searches, the “voice-first” world is rapidly approaching. Gartner suggests that approximately one-third of all web browsing is already screenless. Dealerships can respond in two important ways. First, by optimizing the content of their websites to handle more complex voice commands. Second, by embedding voice-based searches into their websites. The latter reduces the time required for a search from seconds to a mere fraction of that.
Chatbots have matured to the point of being an option in the automotive industry. For example, one chatbot template offers the customer an overview of the available inventory, then makes recommendations and helps schedule a test drive. A built-in survey helps to qualify leads.
Case Studies: Dealer & Manufacturer
Many companies have addressed micro-moments to spur sales and increase brand awareness. Two case studies in the automotive world illustrate ways to master micro-moments.
Paragon Honda seeks to reduce friction around vehicle maintenance and service. The dealership, based in Queens, NY, developed an app to radically simplify the process. It is possible for a customer’s vehicle to be picked up, serviced and returned to their home, all within 24 hours. The customer never sets foot in the dealership. Paragon says that customers who use the app deliver “twice as many repair orders” to the dealership compared to those who do not.
Mastering micro-moments eases stress points, transforming them into moments of customer satisfaction.
Hyundai also tried to transform stress points into constructive micro-moments. One goal of Hyundai Shopper Assurance is to address two common challenges in the buying process by effectively disclosing the price and by scheduling and completing a test drive.
Hyundai research revealed how much time consumers spent to find the right price for a vehicle online. The automaker decided to “own” the price conversation. It wanted to save customers the hassle of going to third-party sites to figure out a vehicle’s current price. Hyundai asked its dealers to be upfront about displaying MSRP minus current incentives and any dealer discount.
Hyundai’s research also revealed that buyers struggled to find time for test drives. It launched an online program allowing individuals to schedule a test drive at their home, workplace or local hangout. Nine of ten said these test drives were instrumental in getting them into the dealership.
Master micro-moments to deliver a highly personalized, rich experience. One that draws in buyers while enhancing your brand. Ultimately, this is about much more than mobile. You’ll want to apply the micro-moment analysis to all the touchpoints between you and your customers.
Whether it’s online or at your brick-and-mortar facility, you want to be quick, be present and be relevant!
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