Targeting Millennials to Generate Sales: Automotive Industry Insights

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Targeting Millennials to Generate Sales: Automotive Industry Insights

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It was previously reported that millennials didn’t care too much about owning (or even using) a car, but just the opposite has surfaced. In fact, “millennials drive 72% more miles than baby boomers” (Hedges & Company).

The difference between generations is that millennials have a strong desire for personalization – they’re constantly looking for the most fitting product to match their wants and needs. And because it was once thought that millennials were reluctant and unwilling to purchase cars, marketers have a lot of catching up to do.

Key takeaways:

  • Fueling recommendations
  • Cultivating educational and engaging content
  • Retargeting interested buyers
  • Displaying TV & video ads
  • Mobile is key

Fueling recommendations

According to the Q4 2016 Digital Satisfaction Index™ (DSI), an initiative created through the Intent Lab™ by Performics & Northwestern University, automotive review websites are most influential 1-3 months before purchasing. And for US consumers, it’s typical that all their automotive research is conducted way in advance, mainly because they are likely to buy a car the day they visit the dealership.

While consumers’ visits to the dealership could make or break a deal, it’s getting them in-person that’s key. Typically, when consumers are conducting research on a big product purchase like a car, they seek advice from owners on things like safety, reliability, technology features, pricing, etc. In any case, it’s hard for consumers to rely on advice and recommendations from the manufacturer itself. And millennials naturally feel more comfortable seeking nonbiased advice, particularly because they have a hard time finding online information credible (DSI).

According to Forbes, 33% of millennials take blogger advice into consideration before diving into a purchase. While manufacturers have no control over what magazines publish, they can encourage bloggers to report back on a positive experience with their car. Additionally, manufacturers can lease specific models to industry influencers for a set amount of time, asking them to document their experience. And by doing this, the manufacturer will increase overall branded presence, as its name and website will be displayed across influencer platforms.

Cultivating educational and engaging content

Since millennials don’t often find automotive information credible, this means that automotive companies have to cultivate a relationship with the consumer in order to earn trust. US consumers take a while to choose a manufacturer, but once they’re at the dealership, they act pretty quickly.

The best way to garner trust is to speak directly to consumers and create content that speaks to the nature of their inquiries. What concerns them? What interests them? How actively are they looking for a car?

Conducting keyword research and analyzing consumer data can help marketers to understand what search queries are leading consumers to the manufacturer’s website and what site they came from before visiting (competitor website, financial website, etc.) This can help marketers to grasp how serious users are when browsing online – leading them to understand how far along they are in the consumer journey.

For one automotive client, our research uncovered that the majority of consumers looking to buy a car were looking for a reliable, safe and economical manufacturer. Knowing this, we conducted keyword research and a content gap analysis, created content (both general and specific) and developed new landing pages that spoke to the consumer’s main purchasing factors. Doing this led to increased brand awareness, lifting the client in the SERP (search engine results page) and increasing the number of consumers that leveraged the manufacturer’s car configurator tool by 5.7% – inching them closer to their purchase.

Retargeting interested buyers

Millennials love to shop around. According to Autotrader, they want to know that they’re not being pressured to buy. They want to do research and make a conscious decision. This is where it gets tricky – marketers need to softly remind consumers about their product – that it’s exactly what the consumer needs – without being pushy or annoying.

For one client, leveraging a remarketing strategy was at the top of its list after a large, broadcasted event. The client took the opportunity to retarget consumers who were exposed to the ad and displayed interest. To do this, we gathered CRM data and third-party data for in-market shoppers and owners while retargeting consumers, creatively placing ads across social and relevant websites while utilizing incentivized messaging. Using this strategy increased sales by 14% year over year and generated an additional $1.5 million in revenue.

Leveraging TV & video

Consumers are consistently using more than one device at the same time. In fact, 87% of overall consumers use more than one device at a time (Adweek). Older generations are more exposed to traditional TV commercials, whereas millennials typically use their computers/mobile devices to watch TV. But, during large television events (i.e. the Oscars, the Olympics, etc.), a large portion of millennials, along with other consumers, tune in.

There are two routes to go when leveraging TV and video: (1) target consumers through video ads on YouTube and social platforms (i.e. Periscope, Facebook LIVE) and/or (2) directly target consumers through TV ad sync.

(1) Target consumers through video ads

To demonstrate, one of our clients decided to target consumers using programmatic tactics, creating display ads and strategically placing them across Facebook, where they noticed the majority of their prospects were spending online time.

By doing this, brands will notice higher engagement and interactions rates. During tire changing season, one of our automotive clients leveraged social media and display ads to reach the right audiences. The campaign generated increased conversion rates as well as interactions rates – by nearly 18%.

(2) TV ad sync

TV ad sync allows automotive manufacturers to tell a cohesive brand story, creating a much more memorable experience for the consumer. In fact, TV ad sync has been a go-to tactic for brands in increasing ROI.

To demonstrate, we held a TV ad sync campaign for one of our clients that wanted to reach consumers during competitor commercials. Anytime another auto manufacturer’s ad aired, our client’s bids were boosted. Because of this, our client outranked and capitalized on competitors’ buzz keywords, resulting in our client owning 100% share of voice on specific competitor keywords and increasing share of voice on auto terms in general by 59% year over year.

Mobile is key

Using a smartphone while shopping for a quick purchase is much different than shopping for a car. A consumer can’t walk into a store and compare prices from one department store to the next – when buying a car, there’s much more at stake than price (i.e. financing, availability). However, millennials tend to use their smartphones when shopping for cars – 80% to be precise. This is their main source of finding research and reading reviews (eMarketer). Knowing this, manufacturers should ensure their site is optimized for mobile, and that ads are being displayed on both desktop and mobile devices.

In an always-connected world, millennials need to feel that they can easily access a manufacturer’s website. According to the DSI, utility – or the ease of accessibility – is one of the most important factors to millennials. If consumers notice that webpages have slow load times or are not mobile-friendly, it won’t take long before they jump ship and start looking at another manufacturer’s site that’s clean and easily accessible.

For more automotive insights, contact Performics today.


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