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Digital Marketing Resources, Tips & Strategies

Automotive Marketing for Digital Micro-Moments

Feb 16, 2018 12:22:00 PM / by Moda Partners

Auto dealers know that it can take months between the moment a consumer first decides they’re in the market for a new vehicle and when they actually drive off the lot. The days of perusing print ads have been left behind in favour of a more immediate digital experience. Consumers are capable of making more informed decisions than ever before, as all the knowledge they need lies within their hands in real-time. Smartphones now satiate our every impulse within the moment.

Over the course of an auto customer’s journey, there are countless of these intent-driven micro-moments. Consumers have high demands of auto dealerships to deliver relevant and useful information to answer every question, confirm every thought, and address every need -- without exception.

Every Micro-Moment is an Opportunity

Automotive marketers must anticipate and deliver the kind of relevant and useful information their potential customers are looking for. If your dealership falls short of meeting a consumer’s expectations, a competitor’s site is only a click away. Your ability to proactively educate consumers during their research process has a lasting impact on their opinion of your brand and your business.

Thanks to new clickstream data from Luth Research, we can now actually see just how much the digital landscape shapes a customers’ journey during the car buying process: What they search for, what links they click, which websites they visit, and what videos they view on their path to purchase.1  

Discover the 900+ digital interactions one consumer named Stacy had leading up to the lease of her new car.


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Stacy's Car-Buying Journey

First, let's meet Stacy. Stacy is a 32-year-old mother of two. While conducting her search, she chaffeured her family of four around in a mid-size SUV. However, with a third child on the way, she required a new vehicle that could accommodate three car seats. Stacy had to choose between leasing a larger SUV or going with a minivan.

Over the three-month period leading up to Stacy’s decision to lease a car, her research included 900+ digital interactions where she intentionally sought out information related to a vehicle lease or purchase.

Stacy’s interactions took place the form of searches, visits, video views, and clicks on sites including Google, YouTube, manufacturer websites, dealer websites, and review websites.

71% of Stacy’s digital interactions took place on her mobile device.

During her research, Stacy conducted 139 Google Searches. This presented auto marketers with 139 unique opportunities to provide her with relevant and useful content to help shape her decision. These searches can be broken down into three categories that comprise the buyer's journey:

  • “Brands explored” included at least five interactions
  • “Brands considered” included at least 20 interactions
  • “Brands decided between” included at least 100 interactions

The Infographic below explores a sample of the micro-moments within Stacy’s search, with examples of her actual mobile search paths and resulting actions. These micro-moments can be defined by the following queries:

Which-car-is-best moments

Six out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure of which car to buy. Stacy started her search by focusing on family friendliness and safety. This allowed her to narrow her decision down to several brands and models.

Is-it-right-for-me moments

As auto consumers research practical considerations, such as seating capacity and number of airbags, they begin to compose a checklist of what they deem to be the most important features. Stacy's checklist included fitting three car seats and a sliding middle row.

Can-I-afford-it moments

As cost consideration comes into play, auto shoppers further narrow down their options. Stacy explored pricing and payment options that included price points less than $30,000, leasing vs. buying comparisons, lease exchange programs, and the trade-in value of her current SUV.

Where-should-I-buy-it moments

While the majority of the car-buying process has moved online, an actual visit to a dealership is crucial for most car shoppers. In fact, search queries for "car dealerships near me" doubled in 2015. Stacy explored nearby dealerships online, as well as considered local inventory, deals, and specials.

Am-I-getting-a-deal moments

Stacy spent time researching deals both online and on the lot. In order to show up at the dealership prepared, she made sure to do her homework beforehand. Stacy researched lease money factors, how she might forgo a dealer altogether, and then she crowd-sourced actual prices paid for different brands and models.

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What this Means for Automotive Marketing

In the end, Stacy leased an SUV that met the criteria she was looking for during her various micro-moments. In her own words: "My most important criteria were number of seats and cargo space to fit my whole family and all our gear."

Just like Stacy, auto shoppers are looking to find relevant and useful answers to their questions for each micro-moment. Stacy’s 139 Google Searches, and the hundreds of interactions that followed, represent a series of opportunities for auto marketers to provide useful, relevant information.

Is your Auto Marketing Prepared for Mobile Micro-Moments?

Consider the key auto shopping moments as outlined in Stacy’s search. Then ask yourself:

  • Does your brand answer relevant questions regarding safety, seating capacity, and price?
  • Is it easy to compare your models with competing brands?
  • Is your site optimized for a mobile experience?

When you hold your brand accountable for connecting to potential customers during these key micro-moments, you not only make a more favourable impression, but you also increase your opportunities for making a sale. 

Is your digital marketing is optimized to meet your prospective customers' expectations? Contact us for a free digital assessment and discover how you can start attracting more visitors along their auto buying journey. 


  1. Methodology: Google partnered with Luth Research. Luth analyzed the digital activity of its opt-in panel participants. This article details the cross-device clickstream data of one individual named Stacy over a period of three months.
  2.  Automotive Shopper Path to Purchase, Millward Brown Digital and Polk, September 2015.
  3. Google internal data, U.S., September 2015.


Topics: digital marketing, auto marketing

Moda Partners

Written by Moda Partners

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