Hitachi Capital came to us with a clear goal: increase web leads year-on-year. We were keen to get stuck into the brief but had to overcome a few challenges first.
The initial challenges
Operating in a price-driven sector, competition is tough. Hitachi Capital offers a premium car leasing service, which can hinder the brand from competing on price.
Other contextual factors also had to be considered:
- UK Car buyers spend an average of 11 hours researching before purchase – plenty of time to compare prices
- Customers want to feel in control of their decisions, not like they are being sold to
In addition, we had a compliance team to please. All promotional activity is subject to regulatory approval, severely limiting the channels and messaging we can use and making it difficult to release time-sensitive material.
With new car purchasing constantly increasing in the UK – up to 2.6 million in 2015 – competition is growing. We needed to entice customers, whilst breaking through a customer journey that can take 11 hours.
Step 1: Audience research
Our audience research – including user journey mapping, panel research and performance audits – identified that car leasing isn’t a well-understood option for people purchasing a new vehicle.
We also found large up-front payments to be the main deterrent stopping people purchasing a new car. A fundamental benefit to leasing is driving a new vehicle with less initial financial outlay, so the lack of awareness of this benefit became the linchpin of our entire campaign.
People buy cars differently than they did 10 years ago, which means we need to change the way we target these users to ensure we're reaching them at key moments in the consideration path.
Step 2: Optimising Adwords campaigns
Our messaging aimed to grab the attention of prospective car owners by letting them know they could be driving luxury vehicles for affordable monthly payments.
We began by refining the brand’s Adwords account, creating campaigns for:
- Vehicle manufactures
- Vehicle models
- Offer campaigns
- Business and personal customers
We increased the campaigns and keywords we were targeting significantly. Campaigns rose from just 32 to almost 1,479 and targeted keywords shot up from 3,046 to 23,652.
This worked nicely for a time, but we realised more was needed, mainly due to:
- Increased competition on key terms
- A drop in quality score after recommendations for the website didn’t go live as soon as expected
- Outdated ads, due to a delay with compliance approving messaging
We soon realised we couldn’t put all our eggs in Google’s basket and needed to claw back deficit from elsewhere.
Step 3: Introducing Facebook advertising
We chose to explore social as a lead-gen channel. We built multiple ads to test how different audiences reacted to different messages, and analysed effectiveness to see how people responded to different car brands.
Our previous approach was lengthy. It began with a paid search ad, sending users to a landing page, where we could build an audience list and use RLSA campaigns to entice them back to a landing page, before finally submitting an enquiry.
With Facebook, it was simple. We used audience lists from people who had already visited our site to reconnect with these users focusing on one of their key purchasing considerations – price. We then targeted them with an ad when they were actively engaging with content on another platform.
They weren’t asked to leave Facebook and return to the site – as they were with RLSA campaigns. It was easy for them to provide details and enquire about the car they wanted there and then.
It proved to be a success, and we’ve since created dozens of new campaigns, tailored to multiple makes and models.