The days are long gone when auto dealerships only needed to advertise via print, television, and radio to reach prospective. Increasingly, various types of purchases, such as ongoing annual maintenance or reviewing car prices, are made long before a consumer steps into a brick-and-mortar location.
Auto industry marketers have taken notice of these opportunities and are shifting budgets to take advantage of them. In addition, digital customers demand seamless integration, and this is an opportunity for the dealers and OEMs to pursue an integrated marketing approach that cuts across different channels and touch points. Those who have a good grasp on the customer digital behavior are the ones that will be the winners.
Having a good grasp means engaging with customers on the channels they use, which include mobile devices, social media, and other digital spaces. Here are four examples of how automotive brands are expanding their digital reach.
BMW followed Apple’s lead to launch its own team of specialists and named it the “BMW Genius Everywhere” program. Employees toting iPads are trained to educate shoppers about new features, answer questions, and give free technical support at dealerships. In addition, BMW built an app and website with “how-to” videos about vehicle features and functionalities and model-specific information. Car owners can also call the BMW Genius hotline or program the phone number into the vehicle's control system.
2. Localized Ads
Instead of delivering the same generic message across dealerships, auto manufacturers can help dealership owners tailor their offers to a specific location, market price, or other criteria with platforms like Facebook’s local awareness ads or Foursquare’s promoted listings ads. Geofencing technology also enables dealerships to only show ads to prospective customers who are nearby.
3. Streaming Ads
Streaming music providers like Spotify and Pandora predominantly serve audiences within the 18 to 24 age group and offer an opportunity for dealerships to capture the attention of young consumers. Because users must register to use its services, Pandora and Spotify offer targeted ads based on age, gender, zip code, and other segments. Spotify and Pandora are also striking deals with car makers. Both companies have partnered with Ford to provide in-car streaming music services.
4. Near-Field Communication
Smartphones are often a customer’s first means of interacting with a business and companies continue to experiment with ways to reach customers on the small screen. Ford Motor Company, for example, recently launched a mobile campaign aimed at passengers in New York City taxicabs, reported Ad Age. Ford's Lincoln brand partnered with mobile marketing company Blue Bite to deliver ads using near-field communication technology. If a passenger's Android phone contains a near-field communication chip, a 15-second ad for the Lincoln MKZ would begin playing on the taxi’s rear-seat information screen. Passengers who want more information can either tap their phones beneath the screen or scan a QR code to receive the content. Blue Bite also works with Audi, Toyota, and Chevrolet.
Business owners should also remember that adopting the latest technology will not make a difference without training, communication, and understanding on the employee level. Keeping up with the times by embracing innovative digital tools is important, but maintaining and delivering an excellent customer experience is essential.
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