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Bringing automotive marketing into the 21st century

Automotive marketing hasn’t evolved much in the past 50 years – but the customer has. How are modern auto brands and dealers supposed to keep up? krunch.co managing director Darren Kirkland shares his top tips.

Customer expectations have evolved, yet much of the automotive industry hasn’t.

From an auto brand or dealer’s perspective, the car buying journey - going to a dealership, test driving a car and, in an ideal world, purchasing it - has barely changed in the last 50 years.

However, the customers walking through the door have changed. They are more knowledgeable than ever, and will have done significant research in advance of their visit - largely thanks to the digital revolution.

Indeed, 63% of buyers now discover new vehicles online, and 53% decide on what to buy online, a study by Facebook and Accenture found. Over three quarters of people say social media is particularly vital in their search.

This new type of automotive customer is a buyer who is ready to buy: one third of car buyers are ready to purchase on the same day they walk onto a lot.

So in an era where salespeople are increasingly there to show customers where they can find the car they’ve already chosen, how can OEMs and dealers stand out from the masses, use digital to their advantage and truly delight their customers?

The future of automotive marketing

The business that can create the best customer experience is the business that will gain attention over its rivals.

Thanks to modern technology, crafting a perfect customer experience is much easier than it used to be. With the right expertise, tools and partners on an OEM or dealer’s team, they’ll have what it takes to create the right message, at the right time, in the right place.

What will this require?

The modern customer experience is a customer-first experience. It combines data and technology with high-quality creative and detailed customer journey maps to pin-point what to create, when to create it and where to show it once created. The user’s needs, wants and pain points are at the heart of all decisions.

Breaking it down further, the modern automotive marketing tool belt looks like this:

Creative and content

  1. Dynamic modular content: The users sees the content that is right for them at any given moment. No redundant messaging.
  2. Custom experiences at scale: The strategy works for one customer as effectively as 1 million.
  3. Data-driven creative strategy: Content is created based on data. A/B testing helps identify the messages that most resonate with a given audience.

Advertising technology and media

  1. Data-driven strategy: Decisions are made based on data. While there is still room for experience and gut instinct, quantifiable data is what makes a good campaign great.
  2. People-based attribution: Track customers across platforms, channels and experiences to remove challenges and improve their digital experience.
  3. Smart targeting and analytics: Carefully target the ideal customer in relevant ad spaces, using a data-tested message that is proven to resonate.

Marketing technology

  1. Automated campaigns: Focus on high-impact tasks while advanced AI with machine learning handles repetitive, mundane duties far quicker than a human could.
  2. Always-on journeys: Target and retarget ideal users based on their habits and preferences even while major campaigns are on hiatus.
  3. Smart segmentation: Target specific users based on their demographic, behaviours or previous purchasing histories to increase the effectiveness and cost efficiency of a marketing campaign.

By getting into a cycle of measuring, creating and improving - all with the customer at front of mind - any OEM or dealer will be capable of bringing their marketing into the 21st century, winning attention and happy, loyal customers.

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