Automotive Websites See Higher Engagement Rates And Visits, Per Report

'Tis the season for buying a new car. At least for me. After relocating to Wyoming for the majority of the year, I needed a four-wheel drive vehicle. I opted for a 2018 Ford Explorer and bought it from Jackson Hole Ford.

So I’m not surprised to see that IgnitionOne’s Automotive Industry Report: Q1 2018 confirms, among the customers of their advertising clients, that SUVs and trucks still dominate sales in Europe and in the United States.

Findings from the latest automotive industry report also reveal that the global market has seen an increase in website visits from the fourth quarter in 2017 to the first quarter in 2018.

While 2017 marked the first year for a slight decline in sales in North America, the first quarter of 2018 saw a 10% increase in leads and overall site engagement compared with the previous quarter.

The increase in traffic predominantly came from high growth in the LATAM market, with site visitors in the region increasing by 55% from last quarter. 

IgnitionOne’s Automotive Industry Report also found that user engagement on desktop devices increased by 13%, with tablet users exhibiting 5% higher engagement from the fourth quarter in 2017. Overall, site engagement grew by nearly 10% in the first quarter of 2018.

“The engagement says the auto industry is healthy,” said Frank Goldberg, North America senior director of automotive at IgnitionOne.

It's important to make a distinction between engagement and site visits. I may visit a site to get an address using a smartphone, but when it comes to seeing the details of the car I want to view and engage with the content via a PC. 

I did not use a smartphone when researching or buying the SUV, but IgnitionOne’s report suggests consumers are using mobile devices in the auto-buying process. In fact, there is a 4% increase in visits to websites on a mobile device during the first quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. The report also suggests that the majority of site traffic is coming from an increase in mobile users.

IgnitionOne attributed the increase in use to the size of mobile phone screens and a strong focus on improving websites to support responsiveness. Companies are optimizing key features to help consumers find information. These features include car configurators, dealer locators, and sign-up forms.

Those who made it to a manufacturer's or dealership's website engaged. The average level of website engagement grew by nearly 10% in the first quarter. This increase means that the growth in site visits also consists of better-quality traffic, according to the report.

In North America, leads also rose for standard and small sport utility vehicles, along with compact cars. Overall, the first quarter of 2018 saw a 10% increase in leads and overall site engagement from the previous quarter.

The report notes that leads for compact cars and the increased engagement in mid-size cars in the U.S. will become an important trend to watch. The rising interest in these segments correlates with the industry shift toward more sustainable and affordable electric vehicles, according to the report.

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