The advent of new platforms for marketing has not spared the automotive industry, currently in a state of flux as far as advertising is concerned. Traditional models for marketing and advertising are in decline, with budgets being siphoned off to social and digital platforms. Between these platforms are the burgeoning number of brand advocates and critics who now share their purchase and product experiences through online reviews, photos, and videos on social media, e-commerce sites, and personal sites.
The percentage of people who engage in this kind consumer behaviour is growing year after year, forcing brands to rethink their marketing strategies. For automakers, dealers, and suppliers, now more than ever r the best time to pay attention to social selling, which is the sum of connected experiences shared on the Internet and their effect on transactions, as defined in a recent report by PwC titled , “Social Selling: A Digital Blueprint for the Automobile Industry.”
PwC is a firm that specialises in providing counsel in the auto industry, with their latest report providing an overview on how customers, dealers, suppliers, and potential customers can use digital ecosystems to discover and connect their experiences with brands, leading to a positive effect on transactions.
Third Online Era
Decades of marketing practices in the automotive are slowly becoming obsolete due to changes being made by tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, the biggest names shaping today’s digital landscape, changing the very way consumers find information about products and services.
The first online era was the first decade that followed the birth of the World Wide Web, with automakers using websites as an alternative to physical showrooms, and push-based communication was the de facto framework for online marketing.
The arrival of blogs in 2002-2003 signalled the second online era, where business-friendly social networks allowed direct interaction between automakers and customers/prospects in a scaleable manner. Online customer engagement began to become expected, paving the way to the third online era.
We saw the arrival of the third online era, or the “Internet of things,” in 2013. This marked the beginning of an even more personal online experience, wherein devices connected to the Web posted updates on news feeds about destinations, goal attainment, and a wide assortment of metadata for social sharing.
For automakers, cars will now function as digital and online hubs, featuring ecosystems that provide data from owner to dealer, owner to OEM, and owner to OEM partners. What automakers have to do is to find ways to integrate this ecosystem into social networks, “gamifying” their ownership experience to encourage users to share data about their trip, fuel savings, destinations, and more.
Forging Connected Experiences in the Third Online Era
The third online era has buyers in the auto industry who are now more informed than ever as they are exposed to a myriad of influences and disruptors through social media as they move along the purchase pathway. This can be a problem for salespeople, since many buyers now have a final decision even before they set foot in a dealership
This means that automakers must invest heavily in building excellent digital ecosystem experiences to influence the purchase decisions prospects make. GM’s Shop-Click Drive program is a perfect example of this, as this digital sales system allows customers to buy a car from their dealer of choice, even including financing to delivery.
One of the key factors in creating a social-selling blueprint, especially in the automotive setting is to provide a way for users to share their buying experience on their social media profiles. BMW has its MINI division, which encourages prospects to build a digital garage of their own to house their custom design model on MINIUSA.com.
From here, it’s as easy as sharing on Facebook or Twitter.
This is just a brief look at how things now look and work in today’s digital landscape. Obviously the goal is to somehow find a way to bridge the gap between social media and offline purchases.