The car-buying experience has grown increasingly challenging for consumers. Between lagging car production due to the global chip shortage and other supply-chain obstacles, growing EV options and increased competition in the used-car market, shoppers have more considerations than ever before.
Auto marketers therefore need to be able to deliver acute, persuasive messaging that ultimately guides shoppers to the marketers’ own dealer.
However, with so many factors influencing shoppers’ behaviors, the task of targeting and engaging the variety of individuals in the market to buy a car has likewise become more complicated. Given the frequency and velocity of the auto industry’s change, marketers need to be more tactical than ever to connect with consumers during the car-shopping journey.
To do this effectively, auto marketers and advertisers need the right audience data and supporting tools to identify and encourage high-value prospects to get them from just that – prospects – to happy customers.
Data Allows Auto Marketers to Distinguish Between Audiences and to Deliver Targeted Campaigns
Even in the best markets, auto marketers need to have a thorough picture of their target shoppers so that campaigns aren’t based on gut feelings. Naturally, not every car buyer shops in the same way, and with granular audience insights into demographic information like age, value sets and location, auto marketers can better understand the priorities of their audience groups and devise and deploy campaigns accordingly.
For example, take the influence of cultural background on individuals’ shopping behaviors. Nielsen research shows Hispanic car shoppers are twice as attentive to digital ads than other racial groups, whereas Black shoppers have the highest ad recall for automakers who advertise on radio and billboards and via direct mail. So, if marketers are investing in local ads, they may not be heavily viewed or consumed by individuals in the area based on demographics, and the advertisement’s impact won’t be as strong had it been placed elsewhere.
To secure the insights needed to distinguish between demographic groups, auto marketers can employ dynamic analytics programs capable of perceiving audience behaviors, such as which shows they’re watching in local broadcast markets or how different demographic groups are streaming content. This information will empower auto marketers to devise campaigns that articulate the timely needs and wants of their targets – creating a sense of immediacy that can accelerate audiences’ car-buying decisions.
Plus, by having the right data, methodology, insights and activation in place, this nets a 7x return, on average, on the cost of the analytics program itself.
This data can then be used to tease out storylines that personally resonate with individual consumers, versus campaigns based on generalized profiles of car buyers. Doing the latter could alienate some high-value prospects who may feel misunderstood by the brand and become turned off from it. Instead, marketers can leverage insights into what type of content consumers are viewing or what’s in their shopping history to understand the topics they care about, and pitch to them accordingly.
Data Enables Marketers to Accurately Measure the Impact of Campaigns, and Course-Correct As Needed
Getting in front of consumers is only half the battle for auto marketers, especially because shoppers’ preferences and behaviors change so quickly. Once prospects are identified, marketers need to continuously monitor and measure their campaigns to ensure they are advancing targets along the path to purchase. Knowing whether marketing methods are successful takes more than just assessing net sales.
Nielsen discovered that brands have an 80% increased average error rate in forecasting ability – leading to 47% inflated incremental outcomes and 68% misattributed ROIs – if marketers don’t examine all sales drivers in a campaign, from a Google ad to an auto dealer’s in-person sales pitch.
With a marketing-analytics platform capable of capturing attribution measurements, the same tool that helped auto marketers learn about their consumers can also reveal how successful each touchpoint is at engaging audiences, from social media advertisements to commercials on a streaming service.
For instance, marketers will be able to see if individuals clicked through to their website, or if they skipped over the ad. With insights into how certain tactics are performing at each leg of the consumer journey, marketers will be able to create future campaigns that are much smarter, keeping the methods that worked and forgoing the ones that fell short.
Because there is so much change within the auto industry, marketers need to prioritize data collection to ensure their campaigns are reaching desired consumers while compelling those individuals to make a purchase. Keeping up with car buyers’ evolving shopping behaviors and preferences doesn’t have to be a headache, though.
With a marketing analytics platform capable of identifying target audiences and assessing how they react to campaigns in real time, marketers will be better equipped to measure the impact on consumers and determine the incremental sales lift driven by their campaigns. Having tangible proof of how these campaigns contribute to sales means auto marketers will be able to affirm successful work to their organizations and secure buy-in on more ambitious projects.
Ameneh Atai (pictured, above left) is general manager-commercial strategy at Nielsen.