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Cars.com: Following the Road to Mobile (PointAbout Case Study)
 

Cars.com: Following the Road to Mobile (PointAbout Case Study)

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The automotive listing giant Cars.com was quick to embrace mobile, and with over one million visits per month to its iPhone app, it has clearly paid off. ...

The automotive listing giant Cars.com was quick to embrace mobile, and with over one million visits per month to its iPhone app, it has clearly paid off.

Cars.com has taken a three tier approach to mobile:
1. A mobile website
2. A native application
3. Expanding that native application into multiple mobile platforms.

Cars.com’s mobile product manager, Nick Fotis, discusses the business decisions behind his company’s mobile strategy with PointAbout.

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    Cars.com: Following the Road to Mobile (PointAbout Case Study) Cars.com: Following the Road to Mobile (PointAbout Case Study) Document Transcript

    • POINTABOUT CASE STUDY: Cars.com: Following the Road to Mobile The automotive listing giant they’re actually on the lot, Cars.com was quick to and then it’s capturing new embrace mobile, and with consumers who might not be over one million visits per aware of Cars.com, by being month to its iPhone app, it a credible mobile product has clearly paid off. when they happen to do a search from their phone [via Cars.com has taken a three the web browser].” tier approach to mobile: 1. A mobile website, Even though the mobile 2. A native application, website strategy garnered 3. Expanding that native the company 800,000 visits application into multiple a month as of January 2010, mobile platforms. Nick Fotis and the execu- tives at Cars.com made the Cars.com’s mobile product weighty decision to move into manager, Nick Fotis, dis- the mobile app space. “As we cusses the business decisions see mobile devices becoming behind his company’s mobile more of a replacement than strategy with PointAbout. a complement to desktops and laptops, we knew we had THE STRATEGY to grow our content through our mobile platforms,” Fotis explained. “How we do that “In our space, we were a is a fundamental challenge, a mobile player very early,” critical challenge to growing says Nick Fotis on launch- our business.” ing a mobile website in April 2007. As the first company to dive into mobile among its DECISIONS key competitors, Cars.com has seen a steady increase of First we decided whether to traffic since its mobile web build an app. “We had always launch. taken a very device-agnostic approach to mobile,” Nick The mobile web strategy was said. “It was a huge depar- two-fold; “It’s offering our ture for our group to pick a product to consumers in the device and start developing context of when it’s most around that.” Then, which valuable to them – when platform to utilize. CONTACT POINTABOUT AT 202.391.0347 OR INFO@POINTABOUT.COM
    • CARS.COM: FOLLOWING THE ROAD TO MOBILE 2 A third consideration was are heavy users of them.” said. “Our mobile site and deciding hybrid app vs. 3. User experience – which our online website averages native app. A hybrid app is is the key to a successful 12 to 15 page views per visit. a shell that gets downloaded launch, whether it’s for an Our app averages between to a user’s phone, which app or a website. 25 and 35 page views per then calls in a website to visit.” open within the shell, allow- STORIED SUCCESS ing Cars.com to repurpose Going native has also paid off its existing mobile web in user retention as the Cars. Cars.com launched its iPhone page. A native app is fully com app has consistently app in the first week February unique software that gets received ratings of three stars 2010. The Apple App Store downloaded to a user’s or more in the App store. featured the app promi- phone, generally leading to “There is consensus at Cars. nently in February, leading more usage due to quicker com that we would not have to 200,000 downloads in response times and the achieved such consistently its first month. The initial ability to save online data to high ratings and number of wave has led to more than 1 the device. downloads if it were a hybrid million visits per month to app,” Nick said. the app. “The hybrid approach is really tempting, and was very The Cars.com iPhone app “Today, people who at first tempting to our senior man- also had unanticipated uses. were dubious of the native agement,” Fotis said, mainly Instead of users consisting approach will say without to ensure a consistent brand solely of consumers search- hesitation that they are very experience and save on the ing for cars, the company thankful we went the native initial investment on native heard from dealers who way,” Nick said. “The benefit software development. reported that they marked in user experience far out- competitors as favorites on weighs the incremental cost In the end, the decision to the app, which enabled them of developing a native plat- go native on the iPhone con- to easily check out how the form,” says Fotis. “While it sisted of three compelling competition was pricing their was more expensive to invest reasons; 1. Testing the Apple inventory, and then price in building a native app, it App Store as a distribution their cars competitively. was worth the cost,” Fotis channel. Cars.com wanted to adds. Even the Blackberry- evaluate the market size of BEST PRACTICES using upper management consumers who look to the and executive members were app store when performing convinced after the perfor- Cars.com maximized the information tasks 2. Device mance metrics started to flow benefits of choosing the adoption and usage pattern in: Users of the Cars.com iPhone as the native device – “There is no such thing as iPhone app average double by giving the app a smart, people who possess iPhones or triple the number of page flexible architecture and and use them a low amount,” views per visit as users of built-in ad positions that can Fotis said. “That category the mobile website. “The app be easily changed. doesn’t exist. People who is just much quicker,” Nick have iPhones by definition CONTACT POINTABOUT AT 202.391.0347 OR INFO@POINTABOUT.COM
    • CARS.COM: FOLLOWING THE ROAD TO MOBILE 3 “A guiding principle for us – not just with advertising but with all data in our app – is we want to be able to change information, data, and adver- tising without updating the app, so we tried to stay as far away as we could from hard coding the elements which may change,” Nick said. Once the app was out, it quickly became a topic of conversation. “The iPhone app process was a huge morale boost internally. It’s hard to release products that people are excited about and proud of.” CARS.COM’S FUTURE PLANS FOR MOBILE “Our top priority is to enhance the existing iPhone app,” he said. “It’s already out there, it’s widely adopted – there is a lot of opportunity there.” On the road map for future versions is to integrate addi- tional car specs and content such as car reviews as well as search notifications, which will allow customers to After that, they’ll be expand- receive SMS message when ing the app to additional a specific vehicle of a spe- platforms and devices such cific make, model and year as Android, and perhaps popped up in their area. Blackberry and iPad. CONTACT POINTABOUT AT 202.391.0347 OR INFO@POINTABOUT.COM