In the first part of this automotive marketing series we emphasised the importance of catching car buyers’ attention. Wow engagement content is the courtship but it’s the more personalised programme that’s likely to build a long-lasting relationship. And the only way to form a meaningful connection with a person is by getting to know them. Their opinions, questions, hopes, dreams… Being useful in other words. That’s where search comes in.
Search is the gateway to car brands online
In the Google/TNS survey we learned that six out of ten auto shoppers start their research online and that 69% of people who used YouTube while buying a car were influenced by it (more than TV, newspapers and magazines). And the best part? An impressive 49% of buyers visit a dealership after viewing.
Search helps you determine which areas of the car to focus on. For instance, Google reveals that interest in “trunk space” and “panoramic sunroof” rose by 15% and 31% respectively in 2015. Meanwhile, the time spent watching videos of test drives, walkthroughs and features/options spotlights doubled.
Give the people what they want
So why not use search data about your brand and models to make videos even more relevant? That’s exactly what we did when working on the Renault Twingo campaign. “Show Me a Car”, the main ad, transformed a customer’s showroom visit into an all-singing, all-dancing musical extravaganza but it was the product content that surprised many. Using search data about commonly asked questions and popular feature queries, we produced Q&As and How-Tos fronted by our star.
These videos were in the same style and tone as the spot – a playful nod to the spirit of the vehicle. A viewer could naturally segue from the inspiring, entertaining stuff to something more nuts and bolts. The “Is it right for me?” moment, as Google calls it. The lesson? Own and optimise the customer research phase. Use search insights to make sure video content is targeting audience interests and reflects the core campaign idea.
Now let’s talk mobile
According to the Google & TNS UK Auto Shopper Survey, 58% of automotive queries are via a phone; and 25% of car purchasers use one to research vehicles every day. Pictures are obviously popular, up 37% year on year, with 80% of those searches happening on mobile.
Despite limited screen size, car configuration on mobile was three times higher in 2015 than the year before. So what does all this tell us? Customers expect to be able to fully research their car purchase wherever they are, and fast. Brands should therefore tailor their content accordingly and be the first to deliver it.
In the US, Nissan and Dodge have been using Google Automotive Ads to quickly present a carousel of car imagery on the mobile results page, together with key specs such as mpg and a link to the nearest dealership. As Nissan’s director of media and interactive marketing said, “It is a beautiful way of making an impression worth that much more.” Toyota has also tried them and reported a 45% increase in conversion and a 35% decrease in CPA compared to standard text ads.
Hyperlocalisation could help to fast track a customer to their nearest dealership. Mazda worked with retargeting software company Merchenta to achieve that very goal using dynamic PPC. They geotargeted prospects within the radius on a given dealership and then presented an ad featuring the model a customer had been searching for. Those viewing the ads converted at a 53% higher rate.
Get on the front foot, as Volvo did last year. Their agency created fake ads at the top of luxury car buyers’ Google search results, offering free rides to the dealership they had been researching. To their surprise, they found a Volvo waiting outside their home and the driver had 15 minutes to convince them to head to a Volvo dealer instead. During campaign month, sales increased by 27%.
Car buyers want to talk to you
Typing and swiping your way to an answer used to be a time saver. Now people barely lift a finger. They want to talk. In the age of Siri and Cortana, it’s all about speed and effortlessness. ComScore estimates that by 2020 only 50% of searches will be text-based. One in five people speak to search on their mobile (and one in four 16-24s) according to GlobalWebIndex.
Voice search will transform the customer experience and automotive brands must start providing this functionality. Think about the users’ intent, the more conversational nature of search queries, and make sure your channels answer those spontaneous requests such as “where is the nearest dealer that stocks the new model X”, “What is my current trade-in value on model Y?” or “Show me a walkthrough and test drive of your newest electric vehicle”.
Is your website helpful enough?
Car brands have traditionally been hesitant about comparison shopping or displaying buyer feedback but the customer now demands a more useful and productive browsing session on an OEM website. If you can save them from having to check a third-party site or social media, then they are more likely to have a more satisfying experience and want to test-drive your vehicle. Take Kia, for example, who managed to harness the power of customer testimonials to increase website traffic by 21% with dealership visits rising by 72% and new vehicle registrations by 12%.
JD Power’s 2016 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study is a handy reminder of the factors that create a positive experience on an OEM site. They include the configurator, a decent comparison tool, having a 360-degree view of both interior and exterior, offers/incentives and a payment calculator.
“More than half (57%) of shoppers who are delighted with their website experience indicate they are more likely to test drive a vehicle after visiting the site. In comparison, only 16% of those who are disappointed with their experience indicate they’re more likely to test drive a vehicle.”
So you have to get it right. All of it. Inventory at the local dealership should be correct up, to the minute, and finance options should determine if and when the visitor can own this car. Configurators are definitely part of the wow factor and there is lots of exciting stuff happening in the VR space, which we’ll cover in part three. But as far as the website goes, make it smooth, detailed and comprehensive. Make the customer want to get in and drive. Zerolight has the right idea.
App configurators are also a good way to build interest in a model. Chevrolet tasted success with their Camaro, accumulating 62,000 downloads in a couple of months but not allowing customers to drive and buy what they made seemed like a wasted opportunity.
Smile, you’re on TV
An undeniable fact of life: advertising as interruption is over. In its place should be a series on increasingly relevant and useful interactions with a brand. As mentioned above, search is a great way to target your messaging on website, mobile and social, but let’s not forget about the enduring power of TV.
Sky AdSmart helped Audi to get its high-end A6 in front of the right customers, minimising channel switch. The service allows brands to target by net worth, region or city using more than 900 audience attributes. Leading with the intriguing claim that the vehicle makes “2,000 decisions in an instant”, the ad went on to explore how. The campaign reached 450,000 of Sky’s most affluent households delivering more than 2.5 million impressions. McClaren also used the service during the launch of its 570S Sports Series models.
And pause… We hope you’ve picked up a few tips on how to be more useful to your customers from channel to channel. In part three we’ll show you how to make customers fall in love with your cars.
Want to give your YouTube search strategy a quick tune up? Then contact us for a free consultation.