If there’s one thing 2016 taught us, at least in terms of automotive digital shopping data, it’s that quality, not quantity, car shopper traffic is everything.
We pulled data from across the Dealer.com dealer network to analyze website traffic amounts by day, month, and time of day in 2016. The results were not necessarily surprising and seem consistent with digital traffic trends of years past. The data does suggest that dealers must provide an engaging and efficient digital car-buying experience. More on that in a minute.
Here’s what we found:
– The busiest day of the year, in terms of shopper visits to dealer websites, was Sunday, July 24, which may be an anomaly because it doesn’t follow the usual weekly cycle of traffic ebbs and flows we’ve come to expect. The next three busiest days were Friday, August 26, Monday, August 29, and Thursday, August 25. You’ll notice these three days all closely preceded Labor Day, which typically involves heavily-promoted OEM sales events, and marks the beginning of new model year sell-down season.
– The slowest day of the year was Sunday, May 8, Mother’s Day. Nine of the 10 slowest days were Sundays. The least trafficked non-Sunday was Friday, January 1, most likely explained by people needing to recuperate physically and financially from the holidays.
– Friday appeared to be the busiest day of the week in terms of auto shopper traffic. It, however, had the third smallest ratio of forms-to-visits, which means there is room for improvement in terms of engagement and quality.
– Though Sunday was the slowest, the traffic that day had a higher tendency to view vehicle pages.
– The busiest hour of the day was 19:00 GMT, 14:00 EST, 11:00 PST, which might be information dealers can use to optimize ad planning.
So what do these numbers tell us?
For one thing, 2016’s shopper traffic data illustrates that while we do see some pretty distinct trends, it’s very difficult – and potentially risky – to paint digital shopping behavior with a broad brush. If Fridays, for example, were such reliably busy shopping days, why was a Sunday in the middle of summer the busiest?
Perhaps the most important information gleaned from 2016’s data is that high traffic quantity doesn’t always correlate to high quality traffic. In other words, high web traffic (quantity) means little if that traffic isn’t converting (quality).
This was the case in 2016, where Fridays were the busiest days though they were third from last in terms of conversions. This means there’s significant room for improvement for digital engagement. Dealers need to give consumers a reason to go beyond simple digital window shopping. They need to provide engaging, secure, and transparent online deal-making tools that meet today’s shoppers’ evolving expectations.
Digital shopping patterns will evolve over time, and 2017’s data may differ slightly or significantly. But attracting and converting high quality shoppers will remain a goal unchanged.
James Grace is the director of product management analytics at Dealer.com