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The secrets of automotive content marketing

The secrets of automotive content marketing

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The secrets of automotive content marketing

  1. 1. The secrets of automotive Content Marketing
  2. 2. Chapter one Happy drivers, healthy budgets 03 Chapter two It’s all about the journey 06 Chapter three Do you know what people think of you? 10 Chapter four Placing the order 14 Chapter five Putting it all together 18 Time to hit the road 24 Contents
  3. 3. Chapter one Happy drivers, healthy budgets Please both your customers and your accounts department with user-generated content
  4. 4. 4 Your marketing budget is your nest egg, your baby. It’s precious, finite, and you don’t want to waste it on just anything. You’ve got to make the most of every penny. You also need content, and you’re not alone. According to the Economist Group, 93% of companies planned to maintain or increase their investment in content creation this year; while the Content Marketing Institute reported that the average marketing organisation spends over a quarter of its budget on content. In automotive, 46% of marketers have a formal content marketing program in place, compared to 33% of overall respondents (IMN Inc.). Conor McNicholas, CEO of content agency AllTogetherNow and former editor of NME & Top Gear, issued a warning to brands that fall behind. “Everybody’s woken up to the need to engage with content marketing. Your competitors are out there doing it and if you’re not doing it then you’re leaving it to them to clear up.” But the problem is, customers don’t trust marketers. Content created by the company itself was ranked last by customers in a list of most reliable sources of
  5. 5. 5 product information, according to FlyResearch. So how do you create content that will not only be seen but also valued by those looking for a new car? The answer: let your existing drivers create it. User-generated content (UGC) is a wonderful win-win for both your marketers and your budget. Not only does it cost your company a mere fraction of what creating original content costs to create, it is also far more effective at reaching your audience. According to FlyResearch, a whopping 62% of people surveyed would trust UGC about a product over the company’s own information. Why spend more on creating content that your audience doesn’t trust anyway? Give them what they want. And speaking of giving them what they want, a staggering 81% of consumers actively seek out UGC when browsing a company’s website. UGC not only builds trust with your customers, but it is their preferred way of learning about you. It works, too. According to Octoly, user-generated fan videos about brands receive an average of ten times as many views as brand-owned content. Every marketing department is desperate for as many eyes, ears and thoughts on its message as possible. By encouraging users to create your message, your money – and your message itself – goes further. So don’t just spend more and hope – spend smarter. Your brand reaches a larger audience by harnessing the power of your users. Not only that, but it makes customers and potential customers trust your brand more, so if you make great cars, let the people who drive them every day say so. How do you create content that will be seen and valued by customers? Let the customers create it.
  6. 6. 6 Chapter two It’s all about the journey How the marketing model has changed
  7. 7. 7 Fishing is easy, right? Bait the hook, cast the line, watch the sinker. Simple stuff, isn’t it? Many traditional marketers would have you believe it is. Create the ad, buy the airspace, grow the revenue. In the pre-digital age, things may have been this simple. But that was then, and this is now. Any modern marketer (or angler) will tell you that there’s a lot more to it than sitting and waiting, especially for big purchases like cars. To catch the fish, you have to do the reeling. What does ‘reeling in the fish’ look like to a marketer? Well, it depends when you asked them. A few years ago, it would have looked a lot like a big budget campaign covering television, radio and outdoor; conceived through focus groups; executed through a web of agencies and delivered, somewhat diluted, to a largely unengaged public. Now, the answer is easy: content, in context, continuously. Reeling in a fish is an on-going process, and so is modern content marketing. It is no longer enough to have one flashy advertisement that you present to your customers to either take or leave.
  8. 8. 8 Gaetano Thorel, Vice President of Marketing at Ford Europe, spoke exclusively to Reevoo about the topic: “Content is absolutely key. This is not just the big 30-second advert created to announce that a new car is coming. It is about how to get the customer completely engaged during his journey with a lot of content.” Advertisers are competing for customers’ attention more fiercely than ever, and the key to making sales is continuous engagement. Marketers must walk their customers down the purchasing path, using content as the waymarkers. Thorel puts it this way: “In the past we produced high-cost films but now it is more about continuous stories that we produce and serve to the consumer to get them engaged.” Personalised content is vital for each step of that process. The content that hooks the potential buyer at the early stage of their process (which car should I buy?) will need to be changed to continue hooking and pulling that same customer later along the process (which options package should I buy?). The automotive purchase journey is a long one; more so than almost any other industry. During this long incubation period, if you want the right idea to hatch, the focus of your communication can’t always be about selling.
  9. 9. 9 Mark Hopkins, Marketing Director at KIA Motors UK, explains his company’s approach: “You can’t just sell all the time. We try to talk about the different things that we think are interesting from a brand perspective, rather than always talking about products and pricing.“ By investing not just in big-hit, take-it-or-leave-it ad spots but also in focused, directed content marketing that concentrates on continued customer engagement, car brands have an opportunity not only to attract more eyes, but also to direct them all the way to the ‘book a test drive’ button. Gaetano Thorel couldn’t agree more: “The key is to manage the right channels in order to deliver the right message at the critical moment during the customer journey.” So treat your content marketing like a journey, not a one-time event.
  10. 10. 10 Chapter three Do you know what people think of you? Make sure your perception matches your customer’s reality
  11. 11. 11 Nobody likes listening to a tone-deaf singer. A little wavering pitch here and there is forgivable. The worst is when a terrible singer has no idea that they’re terrible, and that they have completely lost the audience. The very same principle applies to car companies and their marketing departments. Lots of marketers think they’re ‘in touch’ with their consumers, and that the high standards and best practices that they try to deliver are noticed and appreciated by their customers. Most marketing departments believe they ‘get’ their audience better than the average company. Well, remember the tone-deaf singer from earlier? Consider this their warm-up. A little research reveals that most companies have no idea how they are actually perceived by their audience. According to Bain & Company, a whopping 80% of companies claim they deliver ‘superior’ customer service. Guess what? Only 8% of customers think the same. That 72% chasm between perception and reality? That’s money that’s being mis-budgeted and mismanaged because there’s a big difference between how the company thinks it is performing, versus how well it is actually performing. The disparities between perception and reality only get worse as we look at the brand/customer relationship. According to IBM and Econsultancy, 81% of 80% of companies claim they deliver ‘superior’ customer service. Only 8% of customers think the same.” Bain & Company, 2012
  12. 12. 12 companies believe they have a ‘holistic’ view of their customers, while only 26% of customers believe companies are actually in touch with their lives. Further, a robust 47% of companies boast of having ‘strong capabilities’ for providing relevant communication to customers, while less than half that many customers – just 21% – say that the communications they receive from average companies are actually relevant. It’s something car companies are already aware of – but the effort involved in the transformation has taken the industry by surprise. Mark Hopkins spoke to Reevoo about his company’s efforts. “The fundamental change is this notion of bespoke 1:1 communications. This is something there has not been a large history of. In the past, mass communications meant mass conversations rather than bespoke 1:1 engagement. It will be key to get this right. There is an opportunity to celebrate people’s individuality in the way you talk to them, that makes you a more engaging proposition as a brand to an extent where that might even be above the product proposition that you have.” The old marketing megaphone is well and truly broken. Every conversation between brand and customer must be two-way. Marketers must invest in the most basic data of all – customer feedback.
  13. 13. 13 It’s an idea that Conor McNicholas supports. “What a brand says only becomes a real truth when it is validated by the audience, otherwise it is just a company shouting into the void. So I think seeing your consumers as part of your marketing and embrace them as a communications channel, rather than just seeing them as just passive followers for your message” It’s not the worst thing in the world to be a tone-deaf singer – after all, even someone tone-deaf still hits the right notes every now and then. But for marketers, it is the worst thing in the world to be misdirecting your precious budget. If you think you’re doing well in terms of customer satisfaction when really you’re falling behind, you risk losing the loyalty of many customers, all without realising it, or knowing why. If you think you’re doing well in understanding your customers’ needs when you’re not even close, you risk designing an entire marketing campaign that totally misses the point. So make sure your perception and your customers’ reality match. How? Just ask them.
  14. 14. 14 Chapter four Placing the order Why UGC needs to happen in the right way
  15. 15. 15 Picture a recipe for an apple tart. You need the cinnamon, the cloves, the eggs – but not all at once. You need to beat the ingredients and layer the fruit – but in the right order, otherwise you get nothing but fancy mush. Marketing your brand with user-generated content works in precisely the same way. The car buying journey is a path, not a one-time decision. As a result, delivering certain types of UGC at specific moments can be far more effective than firing everything you’ve got all at once. It’s all about understanding your customers and how their needs change during the decision-making process. Conor McNicholas explains the dilemma: “You’ve got an international body who is generating, let’s say ‘pan european advertising’ and then you’ve got a local territory organisation who are handling the social media feeds, and then you’ve got a dealer who is handling client contact, it’s a really fractured landscape, and very hard. But those things have to be tied together.”
  16. 16. 16 Mark Hopkins gives the brand’s view from KIA’s perspective: “How do you go from the online journey to the physical journey and keep consistency? How do you go from having someone on a website such as KIA’s and then when they go to the dealership, be in a position where you can pick the conversation up without having to start the conversation all over again?” Early in the process, UGC can get your vehicles on the consideration list. Let’s look at how other industries make their products stand out – for example, Apple and its campaign of iPhone ads where customers submitted their most eye-dazzling videos and photos. If you think iPhone users are passionate – how about new car owners? They’re just waiting for the chance to show off their purchase. Give them the opportunity and the context, and the content will flow. Speaking to Reevoo’s ‘People Tell Richard Stuff’ podcast, Marcus Hodgkinson from automotive data agency sophus3 said that car brands are in an enviable position: “Every month in the UK, 13-14 million people visit an auto brand website. That is based on people being excited about cars.” The audience and the appetite exist. That’s more than many other industries can say. The struggle, however, is standing out.
  17. 17. 17 After you’ve caught the eye of your potential customer, a different kind of UGC can help you close the deal: customer reviews and community support. At this point, your customer knows the kind of information they need, and has specific, pointed questions they want answered before booking a test drive. It’s at this moment that potential buyers want authentic content that’s guaranteed to be unbiased and supplied by real-life car owners. The ready availability of this information reassures potential customers that a lot of people have already bought into what you’re selling, while the user- generated nature of the reviews goes a long way towards convincing them of their authenticity. It’s nice to break down the fear of the salesman and the showroom at this point too – they’re getting all the info without the pressure. But once they’ve bought into your brand, customers still benefit from UGC to troubleshoot, and also to inspire. Cultivating an active forum of users, as tech giant Microsoft does, is a UGC-derived, self-perpetuating source of tech support and people who can answer FAQs and provide testimonials about your product and how to get the best from it. By getting customers to generate content themselves, you’re making them more loyal. And because it’s all user-generated, its cost to your company is minimal! If companies remember that the purchasing journey for a customer is a path and not a destination, then different types of UGC can be their most powerful marketing weapons, whatever the battle. Early in the process, UGC can make your product stand out from your competition. The user-generated nature of the reviews goes a long way towards convincing him or her of their authenticity.
  18. 18. 18 Chapter five Putting it all together How to make your content work harder
  19. 19. 19 Marketers rack their brains, hold long meetings and get university degrees all in the name of figuring out what their audience wants. Well, what if the audience could tell you themselves? And, even better, make the content too? Well, that’s the beauty of UGC. And it’s ready to supercharge your content marketing. Here is some inspiration from other industries, and how we’d optimise each for the automotive industry. Showing what the product can do We spoke about the iPhone campaign earlier – it’s brilliantly simple. Advertise the product by showing what it does. And while you can’t upload footage directly from a car (yet!) there are plenty of opportunities for clever car brands to get involved. We’d suggest... ...going to greater lengths to reassure the audience that the images were undoctored. #NoFilter is already part of the collective consciousness. We also love it when brands celebrate the users themselves – so that the ad is not just the car itself but the human driving it.
  20. 20. 20 Getting customers to be creative The campaign for the film Pacific Rim was the perfect opportunity for two of the world’s largest movie studios (Legendary Pictures/Warner Brothers Pictures) to enlist some UGC. They created an app that allowed users to decorate the robots in their own ways and share the images with one another and the world. Not only was the hub vibrant, exciting and popular, but it supplied the marketers with a treasure trove of user-generated dynamic images with which to advertise the film online. We’d suggest... ...embracing the sense of sharing and community around specific themes. You can even tailor these themes around the marketing campaigns you were thinking of doing anyway. UGC starring in Apple’s iPhone 6 campaign
  21. 21. 21 For instance, your next campaign touting ‘our car can take you anywhere’ would be greatly enhanced with a landing page full of rich content from real car owners, showing those little moments that make road trips special. That’s the kind of stuff marketers spend a mint trying to reproduce – the real stuff has been at our fingertips all along. Getting customers to help each other At the cusp of purchase, especially a car, a little advice goes a long way. That’s why cultivating an online community around your brand is so important. Even more important, however, is to ensure your support forums don’t turn into a field of tumbleweeds. That’s bad for your image. We’d suggest... Give car buyers an option to opt-in after purchase, with a proactive messaging algorithm alerting users to when their participation may be helpful. For example, you could contact people who have purchased specific vehicles whenever a customer asks a question about that car. That way you can glean an answer and keep the community useful and engaged. Our own ‘Pacific Rim’ robot
  22. 22. 22 Following your customer’s journey Car buying journeys are long ones, and marketers require specific, contextual content to be relevant at any given moment. Subaru, the popular automaker, understood what a personal journey car buying – and just as importantly, car ownership – can be, and took advantage. In a recent ad campaign, ’Dear Subaru’, the company asked users to share photos and stories of the important events in their lives that happened in their Subaru’s ‘Dear Subaru’ campaign
  23. 23. 23 Subarus. The answers and images were powerful: first kisses, driving permits, friendships, concerts, marriages, the whole tapestry of the journey of life, told by users themselves, filtered through the lens of a Subaru ad campaign. We’d suggest... ...identifying as many distinct moments in the journey as possible and providing content for each of those moments, at those moments. The fresher the content, the more relevant it is, the greater the impact it has. Content for newlywed Subaru owners; content for recent graduate Subaru owners; content for first-time parent Subaru owners, and so on. The more segmented your marketing, the more relevant it is to your customer, the less it will be ignored and the greater your brand impact. So the lessons are simple: make sure your UGC is authentic, make sure it includes a call to action and finally, make sure it’s relevant to your customers’ needs during their purchase journey.
  24. 24. 24 Your greatest tool for great content marketing isn’t a pencil. It’s not even you. It’s your audience. You need a UGC strategy just like you need a content strategy, or a marketing plan, or even an alarm in the morning. A consistent, concerted approach to UGC won’t just get a few more bodies through the showroom – it will nourish your brand in ways that brand created stuff simply cannot. As auto marketers turn up the dial on content, those that offer something different, relevant and engaging will stand out - just like the first content marketers did. Marketing is shifting away from brands talking blindly about their products and services, and towards an honest conversation about how brands can fit into people’s lives. If you want to reach an audience, you need to relate to them. If you can’t, hire someone who can – the audience itself. The point we’re making: UGC, either in support of brand content or as the content itself, is an essential pillar in a brand’s strategy when it comes to guiding prospects through the purchase journey. Time to hit the road
  25. 25. 25 www.reevoo.com

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