By Sean O’Neill
Many industries felt the impact of our recent financial crisis, including automotive. Traditionally an integral part of our economy and culture, car sales in once strong markets are in decline due to lack of consumer confidence and changes in the way people buy. Today, more and more people conduct research online instead of visiting car dealerships.
These changes in the way people buy have affected the marketing landscape across the board, not just in automotive. With industries such as media, retail, finance, and education, the internet has changed the way people buy and has also led to increased levels of competition. As a result of this surge of information available online, the average buyer now spends more time independently researching purchases instead of visiting more traditional shop-fronts like dealerships.
Today, as consumer spend is returning, consumer marketers of luxury goods must do more to attract and engage buyers and maintain loyalty with their brand. For example, one report from management consulting firm McKinsey showed that for an average automobile purchase there are now as little as 1.6 visits to car dealerships compared to the average of five visits from buyers 10 years ago.
This is reflective of the challenge for marketing luxury consumer products across the board, where customers are now on multiple channels such as social, web, mobile, and email. In this environment, the physical store has become less important for information gathering.
Consumer marketers now need to be wherever their customers are, not just in-store. They need to tie up all those data points and go beyond simply collecting information about potential customers to really keeping these potential customers engaged with the brand over time.
To adapt to this changing market, here are three actions marketers can take to maximize the potential for growth:
1. Get Timely Data
Like all marketers, those involved in leasing cars, selling insurance, and taking out contracts over several years find a lot of potential for generating new business from targeted and timely messaging. As a consumer marketer, you can align your sales and marketing process in such a way that cross-channel visits are tracked, messaging is automated, and persona-based and timely alerts are sent to sales for follow-up. The best way to do this is by using a marketing automation platform.
For example, a challenge like creating an automated process to reach out to lease holders can be solved with marketing automation technology. In this case solving that challenge means that opportunities to help customers find a new car when their lease was coming to an end don’t fall through the cracks. Instead, a marketing automation platform can automatically generate a lead for each lease approaching maturity and send an alert to the account manager involved.
So by using the right technologies to analyze interest and interaction and by triggering the right flow of content to engage the buyer, you can significantly increase customer retention.
2. Engage in Linked Multi-Channel Marketing
Across almost all industries we see that customers use multiple devices to research and connect with products and services. This is particularly relevant when it comes to consumer-geared businesses; however, aligning a consistent message across all devices—led by insight and tracking all of that data—continues to be a big challenge.
In many large organizations, there is often a hodgepodge of different tools, all operating in their own communication silos.
By using a full marketing automation suite and not simply a standalone email marketing system, you will create a consolidated approach where it’s possible to connect with potential customers across all of their channels and build a profile based off of all of their interactions. Having this profile in one place helps you communicate with your audience more effectively and personally, making it more likely that they will take action and purchase.
Let’s use the example of an automotive dealer. Say it wants to run a campaign targeting those who have purchased cars within a certain timeframe, interested in upgrading their vehicle. The first thing is to send some information on why it would be beneficial to change and what kind of deals they could get. If the dealer relies solely on email, then the messaging might not be consistent when the buyer visits the dealer’s website or social media pages. And if the buyer accesses the content via mobile it should be optimized for mobile. So, the best thing for the dealership to do in this case is to provide consistent and engaging messaging to the user across all of these channels, taking into account the actions they have taken previously. Without linking up all of these channels into one system, the communications will not be personalized and consistent with buyer behavior. If the buyer has received an email and then clicked on the website and then shared a picture of a car with their social network, then they should receive messaging personalized for their stage of the buyer journey. This can only be accomplished by mapping the entire journey. Here’s how this journey can be illustrated:
3. Perform Enhanced Analytics
Increasingly, emerging markets are where businesses are now experiencing growth, which means they must improve segmentation by splitting their database into the most meaningful audience for each campaign and deliver more location-specific information.
Behavioral data, such as understanding click-through rates, keywords, time spent per page, and repeat visits, is a vital part of creating targeted messaging.
With traditional markets slowing, it is more important than ever to find ways to entice potential buyers and upsell to your existing client base. You can do this by tracking both demographic and firmographic data and understanding the value of your content not just at a first touch but at a multi-touch level.
First touch attribution is great at giving an indication on campaign performance and how many potential customers have been brought in due to that campaign, but this can give misleading data in today’s world, where buyers don’t engage straight away with the business. Instead, these prospects often touch multiple channels before they engage. So only multi-touch attribution can show marketers the true value of their content on influencing deals over time.
Tying It All Together
There are several ways to get timely data, implement a multi-channel strategy, and monitor buyer behavior, but by providing one system of record for all of your customer engagement, marketing automation software provides marketers with an easy, centralized way to gain insight into your customer journey. By showing you which content is working for you and what can be enhanced, this will help you decide the best strategies to optimize revenue and accelerate growth for your business.
How are you engaging with your customer in a coordinated, cross-channel way? Where are you struggling? Please share in the comments below.