As consumers change their shopping habits, automotive advertising strategies are also transforming. EMarketer reported that automakers and dealers in the U.S. will have spent about $6.15 billion on digital advertising in 2014, an increase of 18.8 percent from 2013. But are they spending their budgets the right way? While marketers have made great advances, new trends suggest that automotive marketing techniques must reflect the way consumers leverage mobile, video advertising and other touchpoints to enhance their shopping experience and get the best deal.
Think With Google reported that 72 percent of all auto purchase searches in 2013 involved some form of cross-shopping by the consumer. The good news for auto marketers is that you can leverage cross-shopping behaviors to ensure that your inventory is part of the consumer's evaluation process. Retargeting and remarketing are great ways to drive increased returns to your website by cross-shoppers. New research from the National Automobile Dealers Association shows that 83 percent of consumers say they're most influenced by dealer websites when they begin their auto search. This is a huge opportunity to use paid search to drive consumers to your website and leverage retargeting best practices to entice them to return once they've checked out other dealerships.
The Mobile Consumer: Car Shopping on the Go
Think With Google's report also revealed that in-market auto consumers are increasingly looking for relevant information on their mobile devices. In 2013, 35 percent of purchasers used their mobile devices at some point during the evaluation process — significantly spiking over 2012 mobile interaction (26 percent). Further, shoppers are relying on mobile to perform several aspects of the evaluation and research process: viewing photos of vehicles, checking out consumer reviews of the vehicle and local dealerships and, of course, comparing prices between dealerships. This underscores the importance of responsive design of your website as part of your digital marketing strategy, as well as mobile ads. More than ever, your optimized mobile site and targeted mobile ads will drive shoppers to take action.
Video Advertising: Making Your Cars Movie Stars
It's no coincidence that the Volvo ad featuring action star Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of the top viral videos of 2013, topping 100 million views within its first week on YouTube. If your current digital marketing strategy hasn't expanded to include video advertising, you're missing out: Think With Google reports that 84 percent of video researchers will watch videos as part of their evaluation process the next time they shop for a car. Videos are used in different ways by these shoppers, from early-stage brand discovery to weeding out brands later in the evaluation process.
Your videos should highlight vehicle features, availability, safety and performance reviews and should also deliver pricing transparency, so you can be sure to remain in the running during the cross-shopping process. And of course, your videos should make it easy for consumers to contact you and to share with friends, coworkers and others who may also be in the market.
These trends show that automotive consumers want a shopping experience based on price transparency and respect for their limited time, on the platforms they use most — mobile and video. Luckily, automotive marketers have many tools to put their brands in front of these consumers when they're ready to begin their auto purchasing process.