Based on interviews with senior marketers and execs from car brands, as well as dealer networks and service providers in the US, the report finds that most see social as a powerful way of understanding and engaging with consumers. However, it cautions that the majority are only in the early stages of developing social media marketing metrics and integrating social media data into CRM schemes and sales leads.
Car manufacturers are increasingly using social media for marketing. Peugeot recently used Vine to run the first teaser campaign for the launch of its new RCZ R model, while Renault used Twitter to unveil its Twingo car using an “online striptease”.
However, the CMO Council says car manufacturers should do more to tap into the power of social media as a platform for sales using a combination of data analytics and natural language processing to segment consumers based on their preferences and where they are in the purchase cycle. According to the report, automotive marketers still believe search, email, online advertising and digital loyal programmes are more effective digital tools for acquiring new customers than social media.
Donovan Neale-May, executive director at the CMO Council, says: “Social represents an important marketing function for the automotive industry. Senior marketers recognise its capacity to deliver actionable, real-time insights that can help drive overall marketing effectiveness. They also see its value as a dynamic channel for influencing brand preference and purchase. Now they need to take the next step by integrating social more directly into the sales funnel and using it as a new platform for delivering qualified leads.”
The study cites GfK research which found that in 2013 38 per cent of consumers said they would consult social media before making their next car purchase while almost a quarter (23 per cent) use it to communicate their purchase experience. The CMO Council suggests that, in fact, the car industry may be “particularly attuned” to social media because while most consumers buy cars infrequently, they have a high emotional affinity with them.
“The high price tag of cars, our dependency on them for mobility as well as the tendency of people to see their cars as a reflection of themselves all help fuel a certain passion in many consumers,” says the report.
Some car manufacturers are beginning to use social media directly for sales. Ford recently ran a marketing campaign that offered people the chance to be one of the first to order the firm’s new EcoSport Limited Edition SUV. It sold all 500 units available in 5 days.
However, the majority remain cautious about being overly promotional on social media for fear of alienating fans and followers, despite the report finding this to be a key area of opportunity for the industry.
“Social marketing is still in the early stages of development within the automotive industry. But the opportunity to make social a bigger part of lead flow and customer acquisition is a point that automotive marketers cannot afford to ignore,” says the council.