58pc of Cars.com mobile users plan to buy a car within three months: exec
NEW YORK – A Cars.com executive at the Mobile Shopping Summit said that 58 percent of its mobile shoppers plan to buy a car in 90 days.
During the session the executive discusses the company’s mobile strategy and plans of launching an iPad application.
“Taking a Web site and throwing that on your mobile site is not a strategy,” said Sharon Knitter, senior director of consumer products at Cars.com, Chicago. “You have to see who your target audience is.”
The company first launched a mobile site.
According to Ms. Knitter, the mobile site seen on feature phones looks similar today on different smartphones.
“At the end of the day, consumers want real functionality,” Ms. Knitter said.
The company decided that mobile applications were a good next step, but held-off for a very long time.
“Honestly, it was initially in the budget in 2009, but with car automotive incidents, we pulled back spending pretty hard,” Ms. Knitter said. “With apps you have to think, ‘Is my brand so compelling or is somebody going to use it often enough?'”
Cars.com saw that its mobile site gives the company a strong marketing position.
However, continual innovation will be needed to keep up with device and marketing fragmentation, per Ms. Knitter.
According to research the company did, 30 percent of mobile users first visit Cars.com via the mobile site – they have never been to the wired site.
Additionally, car dealers are embracing the mobile site because consumers are going to them with their handsets and showing them the cars they want to buy.
Although the company has a mobile site and two iPhone applications, it does not have one for the iPad.
“I’m a little conflicted actually on what to put on it,” Ms. Knitter said. “At the end of the day, if my consumers are using it to search vehicles, the key function should be to search vehicles.”
HTML5 will also be a game changer.
“We’ll see what happens with HTML5,” Ms. Knitter said. “At the end of the day, no matter how well HTML5 does, we’re going to have Apple and we’re going to have everyone else.
“It’s in their DNA,” she said. “Why would that ever change?”
According to Ms. Knitter, 75 percent of page views are associated with searching vehicle listings.
Thirty-eight percent of Cars.com mobile site visitors visit while they are on a dealer lot.
In addition, 41 percent contacted a seller using the phone number on the mobile site and 57 percent access the site at least once a week for eight weeks straight.
Cars.com will be bringing mobile Web site development in-house.
The company will integrate consumer reviews, ratings and video content on its mobile site and applications.
“We see a huge consumption of photos,” Ms. Knitter said. “They look at a lot of photos.
“Up until now, video didn’t matter, but by 2011 we will be doing that,” she said.
Ms. Knitter advises that companies be prepared to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
“First and foremost think about the consumer,” Ms. Knitter said. “Be willing to cannibalize your current Web site.
“Offer consistent measurement and operational process whenever possible,” she said. “Integrate into every department within your company.”