• GUEST BLOG: Digital marketing in the automotive sector – 2018 trends

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    By Mediaworks

    Despite the roll-out of an entirely online car-buying process from manufacturers like Hyundai, research shows that 98% of car purchases take place offline. However, 86% of pre-purchase research is done digitally.

    Over half of car buyers start their research online, with 41% taking to search engines like Google to source the information they are looking for. 50% find their car dealer online and for 42% of buyers, it’s a dealer they have had no prior relationship with.

    Clearly, a strong digital strategy is crucial now if automotive brands are to secure their place at the forefront of potential customers’ minds. And this digital dependence is only set to grow in the future, with more than half of customers admitting they would consider a fully online car-buying process.

    So how do they do it? Digital marketing agency, Mediaworks, has released a new white paper specifically aimed at the automotive sector and outlining what their digital focus should be over the coming year. The Driving Digital: Digital Forecast 2018 white paper is available to download for free, but here we’ve summarised its key takeaways:

    Mobile first

    Mobile is a huge area of opportunity for those in the automotive sector, with 65% of potential car buyers actively researching on their smartphones — whether that’s while watching TV, during a commute, or in-between tasks.

    To capitalise on this mobile-centric audience, automotive brands need to have a mobile-friendly site. You should already have this in place by now, so you should turn your attention to refining its functionality to give a superior user experience. An app could be a wise investment too, to differentiate your brand from its competitors and better support the sales process before, during and after.

    Journey personalisation

    It’s predicted that by 2020, customers will prioritise the overall experience offered when deciding between brands, outweighing both cost and product. With journey personalisation, you can bridge the gap between online and the dealership to deliver a superior customer experience.

    How well you adapt to technological advances like AR, VR and MR will be intrinsic to this. Consider using this technology to enable virtual showrooms for customers or AR scans of unreleased vehicles. Harness artificial intelligence to improve the timing and location accuracy of promotions and discounts.

    Voice search

    Fuelled by improving error rates, voice search currently accounts for 40% of searches. It’s predicted that by 2020, half of searches will be delivered through voice — making it a clear priority for automotive brands.

    Start by optimising your content to capture more conversational, long-tail and local searches and make sure its style, format and flow matches the new search shift. Visual search is also on the rise, so consider how you could implement it.

    Customer profiling

    Every digital marketing campaign’s success hinges on how well you understand your customer. As customers become more comfortable with sharing their data, it’s up to you to build a comprehensive data model.

    Use the data you collect around purchase history and customer feedback to target others within the demographic with relevant offers. Harness local inventory ads to promote the most popular vehicles to potential customers near to your physical dealerships.

    Data

    May 2018 will see the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will impact how automotive brands collect and store data. As you transition from segment-based to signal-based data, you should prioritise contextual marketing using data from each digital touchpoint.

    Attribution

    Fewer than 27% of marketers use multi-touch attribution models, despite 90% believing attribution is important for online success. Multi-touch attribution is beneficial in that it helps you assign value to each of your marketing efforts.

    Review your existing model to see how well it’s currently giving value to the different channels and stages of the purchasing funnel.

    By conquering the above trends, automotive brands can strengthen their digital position and grow their success through 2018 and beyond.

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien