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How can you hook the time-starved Canadian car buyer?

Posted by Ashley Karr on May 8, 2019

Every year, Canadian consumers change their shopping behaviour with the speed of a finely-tuned CASCAR champion. How do dealers reach and capture this constantly evolving market?

Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, Canadian consumers are time-starved and impatient. Whether their day includes a commute on the 401 or Granville Street, their time is short and their attention span is shrinking. According to the National Post, the average Canadian consumer has an attention span of just eight seconds, even less than a goldfish. The culprit? Portable devices.

The proof is evident in Canadian consumer visits to dealerships, which are now at 1.9, according to Google Think Auto. They’re spending even more time online, checking dealer websites, third-party reviews, OEM websites, and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Google also notes that 84 per cent intend to do more online research to further reduce their dealer visits next time they’re purchasing.

What does that mean for dealers?

If you haven’t already optimized your website for all mobile devices, now’s the time to do so. According to the Association of Canadian Advertisers, of the 18.2 million unique visitors in Canada who visited automotive-related websites in September 2018, 8.4 million were on desktop and 13 million were on mobile. That means 7 million more, or 65 per cent more, were using their smartphones and tablets. On average, Canadians spent 35.8 minutes per month on auto-related sites. Of these, 4.1 million unique visitors went to an auto manufacturer site exclusively on their mobile device. It’s a no-brainer to know that the number going to dealer sites on mobile is skyrocketing. Are you ready for them?

Make sure your site is loading quickly: it takes the average website 15 seconds to load, but 53 per cent of users won’t wait any longer than three seconds! You only get that one chance to make a first impression. Your site speed will also affect your search engine rankings, and obviously, your sales. You can check your page loading time at

And while many Canadian consumers visited dealerships to take test drives, that’s also changing. There are now twice as many “test drives” on YouTube as there are on dealer lots. These are essentially “virtual test drives” that allow consumers to check out a vehicle inside and out, from the comfort of their armchair. Again, consumers want convenience, and this is the perfect opportunity to maximize your website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page – or all three.

But what about leads?

Dealers may want to rethink lead generation strategies. Do you want to rely on forms? As few as 26 per cent of consumers who have purchased a vehicle actually filled out a form. There are now tools that can track phone calls, chats, and visits to your VDPs, and identify where your audience is located. This can help you see how effectively your website is performing, perhaps starting with individual campaigns. There are many ways to harness tools like Google Analytics, which can be a huge help.

But even in the face of all this digital business, don’t forget about human interaction. Eventually, that consumer is going to walk in your door, and they’ll appreciate your help and interest. They want to be listened to and understood, to have a well-rounded customer experience that will encourage them to come back again.

Topics: industry insights, trends