Cutting Advertising Costs: Automotive Marketing and Customer Journeys

Like all sectors, the automotive industry is dealing with a rapidly changing social media landscape. 


In 2019, automotive marketing has one of the highest Cost-per click rates in comparison to other industries.

Organic reach is decreasing and CPC costs just keep rising, so how can automotive brands keep costs down while identifying and growing customer segments?

If car manufacturers prioritized their top of the funnel strategies, customer touchpoints would become far more robust with conversions further down the funnel becoming smoother and CPC costs, consequently, much lower. 

We can see the evolution of CPC and CTR for the automotive industry in the images below.

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As mentioned, advertising costs in automotive can be very high in relation to other industriesThe automotive buyer journey is, by nature, very long. Potential buyers, once attracted at the top of the funnel, take a long time to reach the bottom of the funnel. Therefore, it's vital that brands closely manage that journey with maximum control by optimizing their automotive digital marketing strategy.

Automotive digital strategy is influenced by factors like technical, esthetic and practical decisions, and the high cost of the product, mean customers require many positive touchpoints along the way before they feel confident and secure in their choice of car.

Auto brands need to rethink, and understand, the entire buyer journey right from the start to reduce the significant costs of CPC - and in particular, get their top of the funnel strategy right.

Integration and analysis of their audience data, creating marketing personas, and careful management of personalized touchpoints all the way down the funnel is essential to optimizing advertising budgets later on.

If you’re targeting the wrong people with the wrong content in the wrong way, it’s only going to get tougher and more expensive to get the results you want.

A large percentage of brands are struggling to maintain their audience growth - their content strategy isn’t as effective as it could be - and fan numbers are flat-lining. Again, that’s what happens if you don’t build strategy from the top of the funnel.

How the Customer Journey Impacts Costs

With personalized marketing fast becoming standard, great customer experiences are paramount to serving a frictionless customer journey. Over time, this gives the best chance possible of making a sale, and allows companies to create social media strategies that are smart, dynamic and save loads of money.

A recent Deloitte study showed that 80 percent of consumers said interacting with a real person and being able to ask questions was the reason for visiting car dealerships. A personable and knowledgeable sales assistant who already has the customer’s details and preferences will be able to close the sale and make the customer feel empowered. 

Automotive companies still have a long way to go to implement the same level of detail into their digital customer journeys. Customers are seeking positive contact with brands, human interaction and a tailored customer journey and if they do not get it, they’ll go to another dealer.

With such a long customer journey, it’s crucial for automotive brands to start connecting with customers in the right way from the very beginning, and on each touchpoint, or risk building their entire strategy on shaky ground. 

How Smart Automotive Brands Are Creating Frictionless Customer Journeys

95% of car buyers begin their journey online with Facebook being the preferred research method. There are many aspects to getting the automotive customer journey right, and here’s some of the most crucial: 

  • Integrate offline, web and social media data in one place (data integration)
  • Analyze audience behaviors and affinities (advanced data analysis)
  • Identify and target customers (create marketing personas)
  • Use influencer campaigns to reach new audiences (influencer identification)
Let’s look at these bullet points, why they matter, and why brands need to get their strategy right from the very top of their funnels. Because getting it right from the beginning means lower advertising costs later on, and a more active and engaged audience.

So, in short, yes, advertising costs are rising while efficiency of ads is falling - but there are things brands can do to reverse that situation without spending a tonne of money. Let's look at that now.

Integrated Data for the Bigger Behavioral Picture

It’s only when brands connect their data that they can analyze it and put the whole picture together and discover who their customers truly are - what they like and how they behave. So it’s absolutely vital to integrate omnichannel data onto one platform to best leverage data learnings.

This is how auto brands can begin the process of identifying their true audience - the ones who are most likely to make a purchase further down the line, and it's an essential step in tightening up your sales funnel.

Audience Analysis

Research is key to finding who your customers are but for many automotive brands traditional market research is time-consuming and expensive. It’s also not dynamic, so by the time research has been completed it’s often already out of date.

Car manufacturers need to access the most dynamic, up-to-date audience insights so their learnings are current.

Socialbakers solution is an Audience Analysis tool which harnesses the power of AI to analyze unified omnichannel data and deliver clear up-to-date audience insights as campaigns evolve.

Where interests and affinities overlap brands can zero in on the right campaigns, content and influencers.

Car manufacturers can gain the deepest understanding of their audiences’ affinities and behaviours, tweak their strategies when needed, and prepare the ground for defining their marketing personas.


Once the audience has been identified and analyzed, the next step is to define marketing personas. That’s where all that good omnichannel data came in and was analyzed. It’s very important that brands understand who their audiences are and serve the right content to them to build brand awareness and create buyer intent.

So auto marketers can create marketing personas (a representation of audience segments to help marketers visualize their perfect customer) - and market directly to their audience in a personalized way.

Automated AI now takes care of creating personas - there’s no more accurate way to make sense of all that data from all those systems - and it makes the workload smooth and manageable too.

Because connecting customer data is such a huge job, AI is really is the only way to accurately build a persona that evolves with time and stays up-to-date. It’s vital to gathering, connecting and analyzing all that data and getting actionable insights.

The marketing personas help brands define their content strategy. You have to know who you’re marketing to, to serve the right content at the right time, and build a loyal community.

Spreading the Word: Matching Marketing Personas to Influencers

Content strategy is where customers can be nurtured - building real awareness, loyalty and buyer intent. Auto brands have been using action-packed videos with great success but to amplify their brand voice and social credibility, brands should be collaborating with influencers. 


So, once A.I. has defined your marketing personas, they can easily be used to identify the right influencers (creating conversations around your key brand topics) to grow audiences. AI can now match marketing personas to influencers - and use them to reach new audiences with personalized on-brand content. 

Many brands use multiple influencers to target their marketing personas.

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Personas allow brands to visualize their customers and market to them on an extremely personal level, which is where influencers play such an important role: leveraging their integrity with audiences and increasing Reach and brand awareness.

Boost the Right Social Media Posts 
It's vital that automotive brands only spend budget on top quality content, otherwise they'll be throwing good money after bad. Unfortunately 27% of automotive brands are still spending budget on low quality content (C and d rated content) which doesn't bring engagement.

As we can see in the graphic below, brands are wasting money by boosting poor quality content - and such financial wastage adds up really quickly. It's really tough to guess which piece of content will be a hit with your audience and which will flop. So, it's a good idea to check out a performance prediction solution as this helps brands get the absolute maximum return from promoted posts.

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Socialbakers post performance prediction ranks content from A+ quality right down to D quality. It's only worth boosting posts of A+, A and B quality because they are predicted to bring good engagement. 

The Takeaway

Automotive brands can really cut down their CPC costs by managing the customer journey from the top of the funnel. Using martech solutions to integrate and analyze all their data gives them key insights into audience behaviours. This can be managed easily by A.I. analysis.

AI then defines their marketing personas and matches them to influencers so they can grow loyal engaged audiences - the right audiences - and manage their customer journey carefully from beginning to end. It’s a better option than throwing advertising budget at the wall and hoping something will stick. 

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