Individual Audience mobileCars.com knows mobile. With about 50% of the 30 million monthly visits to Cars.com coming from a mobile device, mobile has shifted the way we think about nearly every facet of the online car shopping experience. A massive consumer trend, comScore reports that there are an astounding 174 million smartphone users in the United States, a number that will continue to climb in 2015.

But how has widespread adoption of mobile changed car sales? For starters, dealerships of all sizes should be aware that 8 of 10 car shoppers use a mobile device to do research at some point in their buying process, meaning that if your dealership’s marketing strategy does not account for mobile, it is failing to engage a huge portion of consumers. Moreover, it’s important to note that nearly two-thirds of car shoppers report using a mobile device to compare prices, read reviews or shop a competitor while physically standing on the dealership lot.

Keep these three important characteristics of mobile car shoppers in mind when planning your marketing to reach this growing audience.

Open to Influence

Mobile car shoppers are flexible. They seek out information through a variety of devices, and they aren’t afraid to change their mind (or their dealership) if new, valuable information is accessible on their smartphone.

Of car shoppers who use a mobile device to compare options or “showroom” on the lot, more than half visit additional dealerships based on what they find. This means that your dealership not only has to have a strong mobile presence to retain prospects, but that there’s an opportunity to win over shoppers from nearby competitors if your mobile marketing stands out.

Reliant on Independent Information 

Mobile car shoppers use their devices as a tool to validate decisions on the lot; they rely on independent research sites most frequently because they provide trustworthy, unbiased information. More than any other source or platform, shoppers visit independent research sites when shopping with their mobile device on the lot.

Shoppers’ access to information is also important to keep in mind when sales consultants and staff members work through the sales process with customers. At any point in the transaction, a shopper can pull out his or her smartphone and verify the information the staff member has provided. Because of this, being up-front and transparent about vehicle pricing and payments, dealership reviews and long-term service is often the best route.

Sending Different Signals

Is it easier to make a phone call or fill out a form lead from a smartphone? Is it more intuitive to view a map to a dealership using a navigation app or to email a sales rep and ask for directions to the store?

Mobile car shoppers send different signals than desktop shoppers, and, as the number of mobile-first and mobile-only shoppers continues to rise, the relevance of traditional dealership metrics, namely email leads, will decrease dramatically. In many ways, it already has.

Mobile shoppers are two times less likely to submit an email lead but they account for two-thirds of all dealership map views on Cars.com. When evaluating the performance of your website, independent research sites and other digital/mobile marketing channels, consider the actions most relevant and natural for mobile shoppers to evaluate effectiveness.

For more, check out our audience profiles below, and stay tuned for next week’s feature on the “Luxury” shopper.

Shopper Profiles

The “New-Car” Shopper

The “Mobile” Shopper

The “CPO” Shopper

The “Luxury” Shopper

The “Millennial” Shopper