Auto in 2014: Embracing the Customer Lifecycle

Posted online: Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014 at 0000 hrs
We live in a time where access to information is at our fingertips, where consumers can quickly research their major purchase decisions with a touch of a button. Just like other businesses, the auto industry must change the way they communicate with consumers in order to fit into the new consumer lifecycle in this fast-paced, always-connected culture.

Because of digital, the way people shop for cars has changed. The consideration phase has extended and general “awareness” is now a shorter, but still important phase. Mobile is incredibly important to stay top of mind and the access to (and use of) “shopper data” is incredibly helpful to target the right people who are in market. With the global growth rate projected to decrease over the next few years—according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 2014 global growth is predicted at 3.5% vs. 5.2% growth in 2013— the environment for automakers will continue to be increasingly competitive. As a result, now more than ever before, it’s urgent to make your media work smarter (not harder) by reaching the right people at the right time.

Nowadays, no one buys a car without researching first on the web, and ownership is being documented online at an increased rate as well. As a result of these increased digital automotive behaviors, online platforms are growing in scale and capability to address this consumer need. This growth has helped improve targeting capabilities (due to the collection of all this online data, and the ability to connect it with offline data) for automotive marketers. Improved targeting means that auto marketers’ can now (better than ever before) reach consumers at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

People Shop: As more people shop for cars and conduct research online, marketers have never had a greater opportunity to influence their decisions. The ability to present your audience with the right product, and information at the right time is crucial during the car-shopping experience.

Where do I find potential customers? The web has allowed people to curate their own personalized “news feeds”, where they control the content they consume daily. These feeds can be prime real estate for marketers to relevantly reach out to consumers likely to be interested in their brand and products. In addition, mobile is a powerful channel and a necessity as more people are using multiple devices to consume digital content. Auto marketers should target these people who will respond to their messaging in order to more efficiently drive the passive “shopper” to become an active “buyer”.

People Buy: The digital world has created more people-centric, data-driven platforms, enabling marketers to put people at the heart of their marketing. Targeting is simple to use and effective in reaching and analyzing your potential and existing customers. This makes creating “clusters” of in-market consumers who are likely to buy now a reality today, and is a critical component to making marketing budgets more efficient and effective.

People Care: People love their cars and this love extends to the overall brand as well. With all of these targeting capabilities, marketers can consistently deliver the right message, offers and/or service reminders to the people who will act upon them. When correctly utilized, this allows marketers to manage and deepen relationships with customers.

By tailoring their message to influence the lifecycle of the customers, marketers have a tremendous opportunity to improve awareness and consideration of their brands, move cars off the lot, and even drive revenue from their existing owners. To take full advantage of this opportunity, automotive marketers must embrace these new targeting tools to help them understand where people are in their customer lifecycle, and how to relevantly put the right message in front of the right customer.

Kass Dawson, Head of Automotive Global Vertical Strategy, Facebook