You’ve heard it before—your website is your online showroom. It’s just as important for potential customers to browse your inventory selection online as it is on the lot. But there is another medium to consider, one that is becoming more influential as a selling tool—your mobile site.

Over 50% of shoppers use mobile devices to research and purchase, and your dealership isn’t the exception. Just a few quick facts can convince you it’s time to dedicate resources for your mobile strategy:

  • 51% of car buyers who research using a mobile device ultimately buy a car
  • 49% of mobile auto searchers even end up making a purchase the same day of their research
  • 44% said they use mobile devices to find the location of a car dealership
  • 36% used their mobile device to look up a dealer’s phone number
  • 67% of car buyers search for local business using mobile devices

We know that having a mobile site is essential. You most likely have one built in to your existing platform. But just having a mobile site is not enough—not for the consumer, and not for the search engines. If you’re looking to revamp your digital strategy for 2015, you have a few mobile options to choose from.

Responsive Vs. Separate Mobile Site

More numbers to consider: 67% of users claim they are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly website. The argument between responsive design and a separate site is your next step. Both selections have their pros and cons, but the choice that will benefit your business depends on numerous factors–the purpose of the website, your intended target audience, and your SEO strategy.

Whichever option you choose, your design should be tailored to mobile users. Responsive web design means having one website that immediately fits the device screen, no matter what device is being used. The content, navigation, and overall design is modified to provide the same experience across all devices that you’d have with the desktop site. A responsive site should allow for screen size, touch screens, and speed. Content should be fast-loading and easy to read, no matter what the size.

Mobile sites can serve as a second branding initiative for dealers to promote specific content, models, or marketing. However, it’s difficult to create a separate mobile site that carries a fluid design across all sizes and devices. This is a significant feature to keep in mind–it is difficult to predict every device your customers will use to view your site.

Responsive For SEO And User Experience

Though the pros and cons are worth considering for both options, using responsive design is beneficial for both your online consumers and your SEO strategy.

Google proclaimed that responsive design is recommended for the best mobile experience and overall best practice across all industries. Because of their single URL and identical HTML, Google can crawl and index the site easier and faster. Having content in one place, on one site, will also benefit its capability to be shared and spread across multiple platforms.

If you’re keeping your SEO strategy in mind, responsive design should be on the top of your list. Having separate desktop and mobile sites means strategizing and implementing two separate SEO campaigns, with content, keyword targeting, and conversion optimization. We know you don’t have a lot of time on your hands as is—having a responsive site is an advantage to the perpetually busy dealership.

I know your main concern is your customer base—and they will thank you for getting on the responsive design train. Great user experience starts with design and ends with usability and ease– across all devices and screen sizes. Someone shopping on your desktop showroom may stumble across a model that they call up later on their mobile. If they can access your inventory and research pages quickly because the design and layout is identical, your reputation will benefit and their trust in the buying process will skyrocket.

Clearly the argument for usability goes beyond responsive vs. mobile site, but if you’re beginning to look ahead for next year’s marketing strategy, it should be the first item on your list.

To learn more about how responsive design can benefit your SEO strategy and improve the mobile car shopping experience for your customers, download your copy of this complimentary eBook, The Business Owner’s Guide To Responsive Website Design.