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The Automotive Industry: Gearing-up for a second chance, by Tony Sarkis, DMS

By Tony Sarkis, Industry Senior Manager- Automotive, DMS.

Adding on to the more common fears (heights, flying, etc.), we now live in a world where ridesharing and public transportation can also trigger anxiety. Pre-pandemic, people were cutting back on the usage of personal vehicles for environmental and economic reasons. Today, this trend stands disrupted, as convenience and safety have taken over as key priorities and given rise to greater demand for auto ownership.

Having endured a significant drought since the Covid-19 crises began, automotive brands are now seeking to reclaim sales momentum and uplift, with a variety of measures initiated to make car-buying easier and more relevant. These include e-commerce websites which allow customers to purchase a brand-new vehicle with a single click, to online platforms which offer virtual vehicle walk-around, digital signatures, and home delivery options.

Ultimately, the goal remains the same: Gain more leads and increase sales

The industry has yet to embark on a fresh start – its “second chance” if you will. With consumer mindsets re-focused on the importance of vehicle ownership, brands are seeking a greater share of awareness in the minds of potential consumers. But the competition grows fiercer with automakers ramping-up the production of innovative new models (expanding vehicle types and categories) and a burgeoning secondhand marketplace. Research reveals that only 2-3 brands will remain top-of-mind for every consumer within their purchase cycle, which happens every 4-5 years (doubling vs. the past couple of years). Faced with such limitations, how can auto brands speak to their audiences? Employing the right storytelling, brand messaging and “always-on” approaches are good prerequisites, but today, more so than ever before, it is all about creating REAL VALUE. Brands must focus on what matters most to their customers, rather than on sharing what they stand for.

So, how can brands make use of this second chance? At DMS, we believe that their best bet today is by re-building relationships with audiences, creating relevant funnel approaches with goals which are not solely focused on pushing leads, but creating value which will pull in potential customers. This is only achievable via harmonious planning, where dynamic collaborations between clients, agencies and vendors allow for greater transparency and enhanced channelling of information. Here are some points to bear in mind:

Don’t be specific

Yes, you read that correctly…Do not be specific. Having a specific audience set is generally a good thing, but why limit yourself to what you know and disregard the potential of the unknown? Start your campaign by engaging in audience discovery. As you extend your prospecting phase, collecting new data and audiences, migrate your strategy and communication pillars accordingly. A recent campaign which we conducted, uncovered new interest points for the audience’s profile, which had previously gone unnoticed by the client and were omitted from the brief. These proved to be indispensable. Always stay open to exploring, learning, and expanding.

Smart content for better consideration

Despite knowing that your mid-funnel is what filters your audience and prospects, we continue to see lackluster efforts in this domain. We are not referring to re-targeting activities, which are a separate matter; but rather to leveraging publisher insights, as well as their unique voices. While we can all agree that creating content throughout the consideration phase is crucial, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Smart content happens when you are contextually relevant to the platform, taking into consideration both demographics as well as psychographics (audience insights).

There have been instances where large budgets were invested in productions and content, with little concerns for where, how and how well the content would be distributed. At DMS, we focus on creating relevant content and speaking through the publisher’s voice to resonate and communicate the value which our brand partners are delivering to audiences without compromising on media distribution. At the end of the day, even the greatest content will fail to go far, without adequate promotional dollars.

Collecting Leads

Now for the spotlight section on lead generation. The conversation has been ongoing for quite some time now on how automotive brands can set better objectives towards achieving clearer ROI. Honestly, there is plenty of room for improvements in this area, as we still lack real collaborations between clients, agencies, and vendors. If realized, these partnerships would result in loops of data-driven insights which would constantly fuel campaigns for better results. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Look for quality vs. quantity: Paying a small premium on a quality lead can be very worthwhile. Reaching out to diverse publishers can lead to different opportunities.
  • Creating performance-friendly creatives is a must: As simple as this sounds, we continue to see cases where clients’ expectations towards conversions are set, without the proper assets in place.
  • Clarity on what a “lead” means before defining strategy and expectations (KPIs): A solid attribution model not only enables clients to assess the best lead sources but also gives vendors a two-sided perspective on every campaign.
  • Collaborate with clients to determine what happens after the lead: By comparing which leads were more effective etc., and maintaining a two-way flow of information, clients can improve upcoming campaigns, while vendors can raise their targeting capabilities and increase future campaign efficiencies.

To summarize, all automotive brands should look upon what lies ahead as a second chance. Collaborative efforts and data-sharing will work a long way towards benefiting clients, agencies, and vendors alike. From a media standpoint, brands should start to think beyond leads and views, while striving to make an impression, as opposed to just serving one.

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