The automotive industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, and its economic contribution is enormous. In the UK alone, the SMMT reported that in 2016 the automotive industry turned over a staggering £71.6bn. There are two traditional groups of organisations in this sector, manufacturers and retailers, and they both contribute to this turnover.
Many organisations in the sector are innovators in different areas and are trend setters too. However, when it comes to digital marketing, they are quite a way behind.
How Important Is Digital Marketing in the Automotive Industry?
User behaviour when researching and purchasing products has moved at great pace over recent years, and the use of digital media in this journey is continually increasing.
Although most vehicle purchases are still carried out in dealerships, the research carried out online beforehand is rising. Because there is a huge amount of content online covering everything from product specifications and customer reviews to product comparisons and pricing, many purchase decisions have been made before the customer visits the dealership. These decisions are significantly influenced by the marketing content consumers are presented with during the buying process.
Challenges in the Automotive Sectors
As discussed in a previous post, the automotive industry still faces challenges when changing the attitude of business leaders to the digital environment. Due to its complexity and sheer size, an understanding of the digital channels and how they work is lacking.
By improving their knowledge of digital marketing, more automotive businesses can take advantage of the networks available, and reach their target market in new ways.
Digital Marketing Trends in the Automotive Industry
New use of social media platforms
Hyundai recently used Instagram to present a range of image based questions to users to help them choose the best Hyundai SUV for their needs. The video below shows how simple and fast the process is for the user.
Increased use of AR and VR
According to research by Marketing Weekly, most car buyers dislike dealerships and are happy to purchase a vehicle online. So, it’s no surprise that manufacturers are increasingly using augmented reality and virtual reality to demonstrate their models’ features to potential customers.
Audi and Volvo are two brands that have used this technology recently but in different ways. Audi has brought in huge display walls and touchscreen tablets to modernise and change the dynamic of their showrooms. Volvo took a slightly different approach and teamed up with Google Cardboard to allow customers to preview their latest models from wherever they are.
1. Know your audience and how they behave online
It’s crucial that manufacturers and retailers have a good understanding of their audience and how they behave online. They shouldn’t just focus on previous customers and their typical target market but should aim to understand those who are consuming information and engaging with brands digitally.
2. Create content for increased organic visibility
Over the last 18 months, search engines (particularly Google) have changed how they present information in the results pages. This has allowed businesses to occupy certain spaces where their information can be displayed. In order to achieve this, it’s important that you have an understanding of how Google sources and shows information, and that you’re continuously creating the content that meets these requirements.
So many questions are asked during a buyer’s research process and this is one way businesses can engage with them early on. The first example below shows the manufacturer, Land Rover, answering a question in an article, which is likely to be asked by those interested in their core product range. The second example shows the aggregator, Carwow, populate Google’s answer box by simply offering an answer to the search query.
3) Be present on the relevant social media
The automotive industry is likely to have typical touchpoints across all social media.
For example, Facebook is a hub of peer-to-peer discussion, where people talk about the choices they have made, or are about to make, when it comes to big purchases. Twitter houses discussions on the relative pros and cons of most vehicles. For example, fans of BMW can be seen discussing the brand using #BMW.
Pinterest is renowned for being an aspirational brand – it’s where people save images of things they want, and so it cannot be ignored in the customer journey. Even LinkedIn, typically known as a business network, is relevant because people use it to search for company car and commercial vehicle advice.
The automobile industry must catch up when it comes to social media. Being present on it and engaging with their audience is hugely important. You can also learn from the mistakes of others – like Volkswagen.
With just these three simple steps, automotive companies can make a huge difference to their digital marketing.
Here at Hallam, we already work with a number of automobile companies. To discuss how we can help you with your digital marketing, give us a call on 0115 948 0123, or use our online contact form.