Have a Merry Marketing Holiday Season at Car Dealerships

By Jeff Kelosky, RVP and Head of Global Automotive at Tapad —  With advances in technology and automotive services, advertising now comes with limitless strategies and approaches. And challenges.

The advertising industry has become extremely fragmented as more devices, such as smartphones and connected cars, have entered the marketplace.

As we make our way through the holiday season, marketers should analyze and connect the fragmented consumer journey. Vehicles are rarely impulse buys, making automotive marketing tough to understand.

Identifying auto consumers can become overwhelming when trying to connect the dots among their convoluted device usage, search behavior and purchase intent.

Consumers take auto purchases seriously, putting in ample amounts of energy and research into the process.

On average, auto consumers used to be in the market for a vehicle for six to eight months. That’s down to two to three months from research to purchase.

Still, the timeline is still much longer than it is when someone is purchasing an everyday item. It results in the fragmentation of identity across devices and platforms, influencing the way marketers should communicate with potential buyers, influence purchase intent and strengthen brand loyalty.

The upcoming holiday season brings timely deals and promotions, which can further complicate consumer behavior. Accordingly, here are key strategies to help guide the process as the holiday season approaches. 

Leverage Pricing Incentives Based on Behaviors
As said, advertising to an auto consumer is complicated. Add the needs and wants of a dealership and you’ve just incorporated another layer of complexity that needs managing.

Truly understanding a consumer’s behavior and identity becomes crucial when dealerships are facing month-end benchmarks and need to hone in on consumers who are ready and willing to purchase.

Based on identity-driven insights discovered through a consumer’s digital search behavior and purchase intent, auto marketers can uncover who should be engaged, on what device, at what time and with what promotional offer. For example, a car dealership may leverage multiple sales strategies including leasing options, buying options and incentivized sales events leading consumers to purchase during a big holiday season.

This would be a perfect opportunity to engage with a consumer who has a modest budget and has been searching for a new vehicle on their mobile device multiple times a month for the past three months.

Reaching such consumers with a personalized creative ad about a blowout sale has a higher probability of conversion than reaching that consumer prior to or after the holiday sale. Auto marketers who get to know their consumers and recognize their needs will have deeper insight on when to leverage pricing incentives to drive sales. 

Think Lifestyles
As holiday purchases are being made, marketers need to consider the key milestones consumers are likely to experience over the course of the year that will influence their decision-making.

Lifestyle milestones happen to everyone. Significant events such as heading off to college or retirement can trigger a look ahead to holiday purchases. For example, a woman who recently had a baby over the summer and has driven a compact may be seeking holiday deals to purchase or lease a larger, more child-friendly vehicle. Events throughout the year can spark auto purchases around the holiday season. 

Watch Out for Connected Cars
Connected cars have entered the fast lane. According to Gartner research, connected cars are expected to grow from seven million units in 2015 to almost 61 million in 2021.

That rapid growth is important to consider in the world of auto marketing. As with any other technology, this means there is another source of highly personalized data sets, but even more so for auto marketers with the data coming directly from a consumer’s vehicle.

For example, a commuter who lives in an affluent New Jersey suburb and works in New York City may spend hours driving each day. Their home and work locations, as well as time spent in the vehicle each day, may indicate they have a healthy salary and can purchase a comfortable luxury car. 

With the adoption of more connected cars and continued evolution of auto technology, marketers can “fill their tank” with immensely personalized information and direct driver behavior. With so many unknowns, it’s important to focus on the information we have at our fingertips when navigating the complex journey of the auto consumer.

Look at who is engaging with a brand, where they are and the best times to integrate a campaign into their day-to-day activity.

Holidays are a wonderful time for consumers and auto retailers. Leverage data properly by knowing your audience and what pricing options will engage them. If you do, you’ll surely enjoy the season.

(Originally posted on Ward's Auto)