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The Year of the Conquest for Automotive Marketers The Year of the Conquest for Automotive Marketers

Car industry insiders reveal strategies and trends that conquer the competition.

Automotive conquesting has never been more important for driving incremental sales, especially considering that roughly 48% of consumers do not purchase the vehicle they originally intended.1 In today's volatile and competitive automotive marketplace, staying on top of proven conquest strategies is critical to success.

Recently, we sat down with three car industry leaders to gain insight into the trends that are shaping digital marketing and the proven tactics they're using to help their clients conquest the competition.

For starters, can you tell us about your marketing agency's philosophy?

KATHRYN LEMOINE: As a full-service agency, we look at the complete picture to achieve success. While we offer innovative and proprietary digital automotive marketing solutions, our flexibility to use the tools in a non-biased way allows us to do what is best for our clients: deliver an integrated marketing plan designed for the current environment.

PATRICK BENNETT: Showroom Logic's solutions are driven by our proprietary, award-winning technology platforms purpose-built for the auto industry. ZipDriven synthesizes market and dealer data into actionable reports that can be used to create a highly targeted digital advertising strategy. AdLogic dynamically and expertly optimizes campaigns more efficiently and cost-effectively than traditional marketing agencies.

STEVE GIBSON: It is not our automotive solutions that differentiate us. It's the way we use them. Everything we do is structured around performance and that performance is measured to the lowest purchase level we can track. This requires strong attribution tools across search, video, display, native, etc., that show us the value of each of these tactics.

With new car retail sales volume flattening out, are you finding clients being more aggressive in conquesting their competition?

KL: Absolutely. To increase market share, we must retain current customers but also capture first-time car buyers - especially competitive shoppers - through targeted digital efforts. Conquesting in 2017 is different than that of 5 years ago. With smarter technology, dealers are able to more effectively target that conquest shopper.

PB: As dealer sales decrease, they're more open to other solutions. Automotive conquest can be expensive and doing it effectively requires data and strategy. Our unique relationship with AutoWeb gives us the ability to target more precisely - allowing us to offer dealers a digital conquest solution that's more cost-effective than conquest advertising on other networks.

SG: Automotive clients are much more aggressive in times like this. They know non-brand tactics like category and conquest are great for growth. Increasing investment in Google/Bing can capture more volume but the CPC can rise as well. A good solution to maintain cost and volume is to diversify non-brand investment on other platforms like Autoweb, for example.

Consumers continue to cross-shop multiple brands before purchase. What digital tactics are you using to influence the consumer's decision making process?

KL: When we know that car shopper's intent - if they are researching and viewing competitor models - we are able to influence them at the micro-moment they are actively moving down the path to purchase. AutoWeb allows us to influence the customer during those moments, leading to higher conversions and engagement at a lower cost per action.

PB: We employ a variety of advertising tactics to cover the automotive customer journey as effectively as possible. Paid search and (VIN-specific) retargeting are typically used to capture low-funnel shoppers, while display targets mid funnel and video advertising reaches high-funnel. The most effective digital programs include a good balance of tactics and networks for optimal reach.

With most clients sights set on increasing market share, you can't solely target brand shoppers only. How much of your media buys are conquest focused?

PB: Growing car buyer market share requires multiple marketing tactics and networks, each of which has its own purpose. For networks we determine are effective for conquest, such as AutoWeb, we'll run up to 50% of a dealer's budget on conquest-focused campaigns. We leverage data to determine the right conquest strategy for a dealer's core vehicles.

The path to purchase is no longer linear as today's automotive consumers add and delete vehicles from their consideration set, oftentimes up to the point of purchase. As such, conquesting has never been more important. Even with the best conquest strategies, however, it's important to remember the fundamentals, such as keyword targeting best practices; competitive analysis including historical activities and emerging changes in competitive SEO and paid search terms; and the development of compelling ad and landing page copy.

By Mindy Howe, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Autoweb, Inc.

  1. Google/Millward Brown Automotive Path To Purchase

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