Automotive marketers, have you ever wondered how you can use User Generated Content (UGC) and digital technologies to talk to millennials?
StoryStream’s Neil Witten joined Tracy Woods, Head of Brand Marketing at carwow to discuss this marketing opportunity.
The Changing Automotive Customer Journey
Digital channels are now the main source of information for customers when purchasing a vehicle, with 85% of Millennials use the internet for vehicle shopping (Source). As such, the car buying journey has become more complex and the role of the marketer has greatly changed.
Digital channels now can either be a huge threat or a huge opportunity for automotive brands. When discussing the roles that digital technologies and content marketing play in the purchasing journey of millennials, Tracy Woods acknowledged that traditional marketing channels still have an important place in terms of driving awareness and creating the feelings of desire and aspiration.
However, she was quick to emphasise that once a customer had decided to purchase a vehicle, their journey changes from emotion lead to rational lead, with proof points becoming very important. This is where digital channels can step in, offering peer proof and UGC to affirm their choice.
“Brands tend to be very good at representing the facts and the brands perspective of what their offerings are” said Neil Witten, “When we start to bring in more authentic, more relevant and more connected content, broadly from social channels and other third party destinations, we are able to create more attention from the audience… that helps to build trust”.
When it comes to the types of interactions brands have with the consumer, the consumer is constantly bombarded by messages everyday meaning that their attention is usually lost after 8 seconds. UGC in marketing can help extend that attention time limit, particularly in places where people don’t want to be marketed to, such as Facebook.
Social media channels are high engagement sites where people go to absorb content from their peers and engage on a one-to-one basis. It’s really important for brands to recognise that and be sensitive to the type of content they are sharing in those spaces.
It’s a hard area to market to people, but if you can encourage your customers to talk about you, it can be very effective. In fact, carwow’s third biggest awareness driver is word-of-mouth and they convert much faster as they’ve broken through the trust barrier that other marketing channels just can’t always match.
UGC And Brand Image
Most automotive brands compete to showcase themselves, in a controlled way and how they want to be viewed. As such, UGC can cause some issues for the brand image as the brand can no longer dictate the messaging. “You have to embrace [UGC], you have to move with the times and reflect those behaviours on your own channels” said Neil.
If positive content is coming from bloggers or journalists, but they aren’t getting the brand messaging quite right, the best step would to be to reach out to them and educate them in a non-aggressive manner and without diluting the authenticity of their work.
Tracy warns that brands need to be very careful when trying to control UGC, they first need to understand how to leverage that content, “taking it into a big, above the line campaign idea doesn’t feel genuine in many cases…You need it to come directly from the customer themselves”. Forcing UGC in to the wrong environment could give you a negative effect.
The Future Of The Showroom
Despite the changes in the customer journey and rise of digital, the showroom is still important but the emphasis should now be on the experience. Historically, the showroom has been a high-intensity sales floor for consumers, and now automotive brands should be looking at ways to welcome people.
Digital can certainly help soften the atmosphere with a new approach to what content is shown on the indoor digital screens. “If you can [bring in content] in a way where you’re representing the audience, you can make people feel more at home, more at ease and present a view of what it actually feels like to own that product” explained Neil. “It also becomes a really good opportunity for the people who work in the industry to initiate conversations and tell stories about their experiences”.
The concept of AI could solve some difficult challenges for marketers across all sectors, not just automotive; knowing when to approach a potential customer and which exact message to use for maximum effect. It promises marketers the ability to learn so much more about each individual, but it can make marketers feel slightly uneasy or even worried.
Neil’s outlook is much more positive and encouraging, “if you really strip it back to the bare bones, what AI is great for is finding patterns in data… and ultimately being much more efficient and effective in what you do”.
Machine learning can take away the jobs that we aren’t very good at or that are laborious and instead bring us closer to what content automotive audiences are creating and why. Marketers can learn so much from this data, bringing it into their own strategy and start creating content that is much more relevant to an audience segment. “The brands that are highly relevant are the ones that tend to succeed, both in terms of engagement and in terms of converting more efficiently” noted Tracy.
Understanding the prominent role AI will play in automotive marketing, StoryStream have created their Content Marketing PlatformTM ,powered by AuraTM, an AI brain built for brands, to combine content analytics, digital asset management, and multichannel publishing to transform how marketers work efficiently and significantly.
StoryStream has helped several automotive brands realise their UGC potential and stay relevant throughout the changing customer engagement and purchasing journey. To find out how we can help you, get in touch today.