I discuss the importance of testing new media channels, and explain how introducing Facebook ads to Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions’ digital marketing helped increase leads by over 200%.
I’m here to tell you about why you don’t need a polyester suit to sell cars in 2017. So, you might be thinking: “Who am I to tell you about selling cars?” But, I come from the heart of the automotive industry in the States – and arguably the world – Motor City Detroit, so I know about selling cars.
When I was 18 years old, I went to buy my first car and it looked a little bit like this except the cars were older and not as nice…But I went into a dealership, a salesman was there to ask me what I wanted, he showed me around, I test-drove some cars. I even spoke to a financial advisor and then I drove the car off the lot that day. A fun little quiz for you all, at the end of this presentation I will reveal what that first car is so have a think…
Of course, in 2017, things are a lot different. Things have changed since then – not just my age – but for how we buy cars in general. So, on average in the UK a customer spends up to 11 hours online researching before they purchase a car. So, that’s 11 hours when they’re engaging with content in the digital world.
They’re looking for bespoke options, so car colour, the engine, the different features that you can have on it. They want something that they can choose themselves. They don’t necessarily need a salesman, and when it comes to price, they’re price sensitive, so they do a lot of price comparison online. We all know this. We’re researchers. We’re good at digital now. And for one of our clients that actually sell cars online, it’s Hitachi. It’s Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions and their brief to us was to generate a set number of web leads through digital activity, and we needed to do this by creating cut-through an 11 hour experience. Which is quite difficult if you think about that. How are you going to do that?
So, as any good search team would do, we approached this from a paid search point of view. So , we started by building out the vehicle make campaigns – so Ford, BMW. Then we looked at the vehicle models – so Fiesta, 1 Series – and we built out campaigns based on the offers that they had available and whether or not it was a car for business or personal, because Hitachi offers cars for both. Throughout the activity that we were running, we built campaigns from 32 we went up to almost 1,500 campaigns – which is a lot – and we started targeting keywords from 3,000 to up to 23,000 and above.
What this allowed us to do was actually have the flexibility to flex the campaigns based on what users were searching for and show them the exact model of the car. Sounds great, right? Straightforward paid search, awesome. But this is best practise for our field, but then we had a little bit of a car crash about halfway through the year.
We had increased competition on key terms. So, think about terms like: “BMW”, “Mercedes”, it can get competitive to bid on those terms. We had a drop in quality score, and it wasn’t necessarily our fault, but some of the recommendations that we had made for the landing pages weren’t implemented, which meant the pages that we were leading users to wasn’t actually as good as they needed to be.
We had some delays with compliance, which a lot of brands and customers and clients can experience, and this put a delay in our ad approvals. We also had dependency on a single media channel, which was Google Paid Search, but that didn’t mean that our brief changed. We still needed to get the number of leads that were required for our client.
So, as a result of the different performance, it did mean that we got to push through some of our recommendations for other campaign activity. Where we were targeting a user through just paid search, you imagine they search for relevant queries, so: “lease a BMW”. We would give them a paid search ad. That would take them to a Hitachi Capital Vehicles Solutions landing page. We would then capture that information to create an audience list. We would then go back and show them a relevant search ad when they searched for something that was related to what they were searching for, for remarketing list through search ads, and then we would take them back to that landing page and then, yay, we got a lead!
That is a really long process, but it’s effective and it worked for some time. So, what we trialled here was actually taking that audience list and marketing customers with the car that they had already seen, and showing them the price, because we know that they’re price conscious. So, we’ve taken all of these steps out of the process and we started to get more leads. As you can imagine, this was quite successful and we scaled this up for lots of different cars that we had on offer, and the results speak for themselves.
Since we launched this campaign activity – which is where the star is – you can clearly see the positive impact it had on our lead performance. That is a performance graph I like to see and so do our clients. In terms of more results, we increased the number of leads by 209% year-on-year, and we also decreased the cost per lead by 56%, which is phenomenal. So, what this means is that we were getting more leads, but spending less money, and it’s just good marketing.
So, what did we learn from this activity – because, of course, we want to make sure that we’re applying this to what we do moving forward – is that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket, especially not the Google basket. It’s good to spend money on Google, but we need to diversify and see where our customers are, make sure that we’re reaching them on those channels as well.
We need to continue to test those media channels and for this client, we’re now setting aside a set budget for testing new media channels. Every client should have this budget because you should be trying new things. You shouldn’t just get into the position where you need to test new media. You should be doing it proactively. You also need to test lead generation off-sight. So, what we learned here is that by not taking that user all the way back to the brand’s website, we were actually able to capture their data quicker, and the sales team was able to call them and convert them sooner.
Using the right message at the right time. Again, standard marketing, but the thing that we did on the Facebook ads is we made sure that the price was prominent, because we knew at this point in the conversion funnel, people were starting to price compare, so we needed to make sure that we had that price front and centre. And also make sure you have a good relationship with your compliance team. Those people, the compliance team, is the gatekeeper to your brand’s success.
So, I hope that you’ve learned today that you don’t need a polyester suit to sell cars in 2017. You just need Mat Williams, who is a brilliant Paid Media Manager on our team, and a really good Account Director. But I made you a promise, and so I’m going to deliver on that. So, any guesses for what was the first car that I bought in….
Was it an American model?
It was an American model.
Not a Chevrolet.
Ford? Ford is right.
One of the big trucks. Was it a truck?
No. Are you ready? It was a 1994 Ford Ranger, purple, with an extended cab and a tonneau cover so that I could move home from University back to my home in the summer, and go on road trips. There it is! Thank you everyone.