Platform Insights: January 2016

Posted by Ashley Karr on January 21, 2016

Did you know there are four ways to use CarGurus? Shoppers can visit CarGurus.com on desktop (1), visit CarGurus.com on mobile (2), download and use the CarGurus Android app (3), or download and use the CarGurus iOS app (4).

We consider each of these a platform, and in this monthly report, we’ll compare and contrast the four platforms to gauge how people are shopping for cars. The ultimate goal of this report is to help you sell more effectively to digital shoppers.

For this inaugural edition, we’ll compare the mobile web (i.e., using a mobile browser to visit CarGurus.com) to desktop. Read on to learn whether mobile users differ from desktop users – and what that means for your business.

Specifically, let’s estimate shopper engagement on desktop vs. mobile by looking at conversion rates. We actually use two different conversion metrics: search conversion rate and VDP conversion rate. The former is the percentage of visitors who ran a vehicle search and went on to submit a lead. The latter is the percentage who viewed a VDP and then submitted a lead.IMG_0732.png

We’re going to use the difference between the two conversion metrics as a proxy for engagement. Consistently, the VDP conversion rate is higher than the search conversion rate – largely because the search population includes lots of people who are just browsing. Shoppers who actually click through to VDPs are lower in the funnel, i.e., more interested in buying.

So is there a difference between conversion metrics on desktop vs. mobile? In other words, is engagement (a.k.a. buying intent) higher on one platform than the other?

Turns out that the answer is no. On both desktop and mobile web, the VDP conversion rate is 33% higher than the search conversion rate.

(If you want to split hairs, VDP visitors are 32.93% more likely to convert on mobile and 33.34% more likely to convert on desktop. But that amounts to little more than a rounding error.)*

What are the takeaways here for you? It really amounts to two things.

1) Mobile matters. Currently, about 60% of our traffic comes from mobile devices; we expect this mobile share to rise by year-end. These mobile users aren’t just browsing casually for vehicles – they are actually submitting leads.

2) Getting shoppers to your VDPs matters, too. On both desktop and mobile, shoppers who click through to a VDP are 33% more likely to contact a dealership. How can you boost traffic to your VDPs? That’s a big enough topic that it deserves its own post. For now, know that the main drivers of VDP visits are a) vehicle price and b) photos. Price your vehicles fairly and upload great photos and you’ll be well on your way.


Upgrading your CarGurus plan to Enhanced or Featured can also help you attract more VDP views and win more leads. Learn more about these options by calling us at (855) 336-1488 or clicking here.