If the introduction to a report from Netsertive is any indication, dealers and automakers would be wise to not only invest in digital marketing, but do so in a way that involves several prongs.
Twice in the intro to its “Automotive Digital Marketing Intelligence Report,” Netsertive mentions “multichannel digital marketing” as being the most optimal route for reaching consumers.
“Two forces are driving digital transformation: tech-savvy shoppers with unlimited access to online information, and a service delivery model with customer experience at its core,” the report indicates in a recap reviewing 2016.
“Add a third variable — the shift from traditional to digital marketing — and it’s clear that the most successful dealers and OEMs will embrace a local digital marketing solution to drive high-intent shoppers to local rooftops during the complex path to purchase,” it adds.
For instance, one key is to involve social media marketing along with search-engine marketing campaigns
In a comparison of SEM traffic, Netsertive found that search impressions were 77 percent higher for dealers blending Facebook with SEM than for those not using Facebook ads. Search conversions were 5 percent stronger, the report said.
Another thing to combine with SEM? Video.
Search click-through rates climbed 26 percent for dealers running digital video ads with SEM marketing campaigns, Netsertive said, and search conversions were up 37 percent.
In essence, blending search, display, video and social media advertising is paramount.
“When we compared the incremental impact on search engine marketing campaigns that included digital video and social media placements versus those that did not, we found that clients running multiple channels captured a far higher percentage of local Web research,” Netsertive said.
“The result: Campaigns that included multiple channels deliver substantial increases in Web search clicks and conversions, leading to more ups and increased sales opportunities over time.”
In the report, Netsertive also stresses the importance of mobile, pointing out that less than a third of Internet traffic (31 percent) coming from personal computers in 2016, down from 94 percent 10 years earlier. As such, 69 percent comes from smartphones.
“OEMs and dealers must think ‘mobile first’ with their websites and digital advertising mix,” Netsertive said.
That may be particularly evident when aiming to reach consumers in Generation Y.
According to a study on “The Anatomy of an Auto Shopper” by Viant — a Time Inc. company — a smartphone or tablet was used by more than half (56 percent) of millennials while car-shopping. Only 5 percent of baby boomers used these devices while car-shopping. For Generation X, it was slightly more than a quarter (26 percent).
In a February phone interview, Viant chief marketing officer Jon Schulz said he wasn’t “tremendously,” surprised by the gap, but emphasized that these statistics don’t mean that baby boomers don’t use smartphones in general.
They may just not use it as much in the car-buying process. The point is, “they use it, but their usage is different, and in a lot of cases, more limited,” he said.
“When you think about a millennial, they do everything on their smartphone,” Schulz said.
“When you talk about the vehicle purchase process, a baby boomer has probably bought, what, 20 or 30 vehicles in their lifetime? So, they’re pretty in-tune and that well pre-dated the smartphone. My argument there would be they’ve got a pretty ingrained process of how they buy a car,” he said.
“And do they get information online? Sure they do. But the numbers show that’s a little bit more vis-à-vis desktop and Internet than relying on a smartphone.”
A lot of mobile usage in the car-shopping process has to do with “proximity,” Schulz said.
“The idea of a millennial going to a dealership with their smartphone; when they’re there, they’re using that to pull a lot of information,” he said. “You can go on a manufacturer website or a dealer website and get an awful lot of information on that vehicle without ever having to interact with a human being. And so a lot of the usage in the shopping process is still proximity-driven.”
Part of Viant’s study delved into the consumer packaged goods affinities for drivers of various vehicle segments.
Specifically, Viant looked at the top CPG brand affinities among luxury, non-luxury, utility and truck drivers for these products: beer, coffee, soft drink, frozen foods and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.
Here’s how that lines up for each segment:
- Luxury: Samuel Adams, Starbucks, Coca-Cola Zero, Lean Cuisine, Advil
- Non-Luxury: Bud Light, Maxwell House, Mountain Dew, Michelina’s, Halls
- Utility: Miller Light, Starbucks (Bottled Drinks), A&W Brands, Perdue, Advil
- Truck: Coors, Folgers, Diet Dr. Pepper, Banquet, Aleve
The report notes these are the brands with the most affinity — not sales — in a given segment.
“This means that within a particular vehicle segment, a higher percentage of individuals purchase these brands compared to overall population norms.”
In the report, Viant lists the key takeaway as such: “As more CPG brands take a direct-to-consumer approach, this opens up opportunities for auto marketers to cross-promote with CPG brands who are looking outside traditional resellers to build customer loyalty and trust.”
In the interview, Schulz said: “There are cross-promotion opportunities … These brands can intersect and you can do things with the different brands in certain instances, especially if you see a high affinity.
“In some cases, it’s just interesting and informational,” he said. “In other cases, it could inform partnership strategies or affinity marketing strategies, certainly on the TV side. Automotive is a huge TV spender.”
Consider the Super Bowl, he said, where about a third of the ads are automotive.
“So, wouldn’t you like to have your ads on the shows (where) the people that watch actually buy your vehicles and your products, or at least have an interest in your vehicles and your products?” Schulz said.
“When you can start to inform part of your media spend by being able to link what the actual people that either drive in your segment — so again, if you’re a Ford or a Chevy and you look at the truck segment — what are they watching? What networks, what programs? That’s probably where you should be advertising your pickup trucks, because that’s where the concentration of that audience is.”
‘Media plan for pretty fragmented audience’
Schulz also emphasized the importance of finding your niche audience. Given the “fragmentation of content consumption,” it’s imperative for marketers “to find these audiences in different places,” he said.
“The ‘easy button’ like the Super Bowl, where you have a big audience all together in one place at one time, those are few and far between. And in a lot of cases, you have to build a media plan for a pretty fragmented audience,” he said. “It’s getting more and more complicated. So, those types of insights can really help drive and inform that planning and strategy.”