The Essential Guide to Personalisation in the Automotive Industry The past 18 months have been disruptive for most businesses. But the automotive industry has faced particular challenges. Due to the pandemic, automotive manufacturing saw significant disruption as many manufacturing plants were closed in China. And a decline in consumer spending, particularly on large purchases, has seen the interest in automotive purchases dramatically decrease. In fact, in the UK, new car sales were down almost 100% in April 2020. But the pandemic isn’t the only thing that has shifted the automotive industry. Changes were becoming apparent prior to 2020. Automotive brands were already having to learn to accommodate shifts in consumer behaviour and expectations. The pandemic simply accelerated this trend. In this guide, we will take you through some of the common challenges that the automotive industry is facing, and how to solve them with personalisation. For the automotive industry, better starts here. Challenges With so much change within the automotive industry, there are some common challenges that many businesses are facing. Here are some of the main issues, and what brands in the industry can do to help resolve them. Review processes Buying a vehicle isn’t as straightforward as many other online purchases. Often, purchasers won’t simply buy a vehicle online. They engage with multiple channels and touchpoints throughout the process. Dealerships, reviews, videos, to name a few. In fact, despite the increase in online shopping for many industries, 78% of automotive buyers still value the in-store dealer experience. To accommodate this multichannel journey, automotive brands need to ensure that all data and information collected both online and offline is being shared between channels. And to achieve this, they need to get their processes in order. Connecting data Data is key to the smooth running of a business and these processes. Whether it be product data, purchase data, or audience data. Without solid data management and processes in place, information, communication, and marketing in general will soon start to deteriorate. Automating communications Ensuring a consistent message over multiple challenges can be a sizable process. Therefore, automotive brands should look to limit the amount of time-consuming, manual tasks that they need to execute. And automation can support this. Automated communications ensure that potential purchasers and customers are continually engaged and communicated with. Automatically. Meaning that automotive marketers don’t have to spend additional time manually creating, updating, and sending their communications. AI and automation platforms can help to pull marketing processes and data together to streamline these communications. Ensuring that messaging is accurate, timely, and not resource-intensive. Online sales As we’ve discussed, dealerships are still a key part of the buying process for many purchasers. However, 80% of automotive buyers begin their purchasing journey online. And due to recent covid restrictions, the value of having a strong online presence has only increased. If brands don’t focus on the online journey, they will soon fall behind the competition. Improve online presence Brands in the automotive industry need to make sure they are where their customers are. In this case, online. And their presence has to be impressive to stand out from the crowd. Their website should be eye-catching and provide a clear user journey. Alongside clear imagery and information. After all, buying a vehicle is a significant and costly decision. Execute a seamless buying journey If a website is difficult to explore or purchase from, consumers will go elsewhere. Automotive brands should ensure the buying journey is seamless. And purchasers are communicated with properly. Both pre- and post-purchase. This will help them to feel reassured and comfortable in making such a large purchase with a brand. Improve online communications This is why online communications should also be reviewed. To ensure a seamless multichannel journey, automotive brands need to ensure they are communicating to their potential purchasers and customers regularly to keep them engaged. And ensure that they are at the forefront of purchasers’ minds when they want to finally make their purchase. Emerging technologies The automotive industry is bracing itself for the changes that new and emerging technologies bring. For instance, global sales of battery-electric cars surged 73% in 2018 to 1.3 million units. And driverless cars are expected to go mainstream within the next 15 years. The prediction is that many drivers will opt to rent, as opposed to buy their vehicles. Traditional car companies will have to put up a fight to stay relevant. Competing against the likes of Uber and Google’s driverless car business, Waymo. Understand consumer behaviour If they don’t already, automotive brands should begin carefully monitoring their audiences’ browsing and buying behaviour. As well as keeping an eye on industry trends in general. This will help them to pick up on changes in behaviour, and to tailor their marketing and communications accordingly. So they are always at the forefront of the industry. Keep in touch Change in an industry doesn’t just affect brands. It affects consumers too. With so much change happening, consumers want to be reassured and educated. Brands should continuously keep their audience updated on changes in the industry, what that means for them, and how their brand can help. Increased competition Competition within the automotive industry is intense at the best of times. However, the industry is predicting to see an increase in demand and competition from smaller, more independent traders. While there has been a decline, 2020 saw a larger demand for automotive purchases than originally predicted. Meaning that many businesses are taking this opportunity to start trading. For larger or more traditional automotive brands, these smaller businesses can quickly create significant competition. Particularly from those who have a strong online presence, and more progressive marketing tactics. Increase brand awareness Brand awareness is key to keeping up with the competition and instilling trust in an audience. But brand awareness is also necessary to ensure they are in front of new potential customers who may not be aware of their brand. As well as keeping their current customers from exploring a competitor. Boost loyalty It costs 5 times more to sell to a new customer than an existing one. That’s a big difference for brands selling high-ticket items such as vehicles. Therefore, in an increasingly competitive landscape it’s essential that automotive brands boost their customer loyalty, and encourage repeat purchases from their current audience. Solutions So now we have identified common challenges facing the automotive industry, and what they should do to solve them. Let’s look at how brands can achieve these objectives with personalisation. Consolidate data Before marketers in the automotive industry can execute any kind of personalisation, they need to get their data in order. This will enable them to understand their audience, whilst also having the relevant information needed to feed personalisation. This should involve consolidating various data systems, both online and offline. From CRM to ESP, spreadsheets to hard copies. And according to 37% of marketers, successful personalisation needs to be pulled from a single data source. Once that is utilised across all channels and departments within a business. Increased data enables automotive brands to gain a fuller understanding of their audience and their behaviour. Which is useful information that can be fed throughout the entire business. Combine data sources Separate business systems are a thing of the past. By combining all audience data into one accessible place, automotive marketers can offer the right content. To the right person. At the right time. Data analytics Once all data is collated, marketers can start to analyse and understand what their audience looks like. This will help them to identify their ideal customer and those who are most likely to buy their products. Segmentation Additionally, marketers can use this information to create specific segments to automate highly targeted and personalised campaigns and content suggestions based on demographics, behaviour, preferences, and previous activity. RFM modelling and reporting With all of their data in one place, automotive marketers can also conduct RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) modelling and analysis. This helps them to identify customers who are most likely to buy, or those that are likely to spend the most. Marketers can then use these segments to communicate accordingly. Image Source – Sleeknote Behavioural targeting Automotive brands can utilise the data and learnings they have on their audience to send out automated, highly personalised communications. Essentially, behavioural targeting and automated email does the hard work for the marketer. Meaning they have time to focus on strategy and keeping up to date with the continuous changes in the automotive industry. Behavioural segmentation Let’s begin with behavioural segmentation. This process enables brands to build granular segments of their audience based on factors such as demographics, behaviour, or stage in the buying cycle. These segments can then be used to send specific content tailored to their needs. For instance, brands could set up a segment for recipients who frequently browse a specific car manufacturer, but are yet to make their first inquiry. They can send these recipients useful information or promotions on their frequently browsed manufacturer. To give them that nudge to get in touch and move along the buying cycle. Image Source – Pinterest Form abandonment Alternatively, maybe a potential purchaser has started filling out a form to enquire about a vehicle, but didn’t make it to the final stage. Automotive brands can encourage these individuals to finish their enquiry with the use of abandoned form emails. This could offer the recipient more information about their potential purchase, about the buying process, about the brand, or different contact details. Image Source – Diggintravel.com Order statuses When making a large financial commitment such as buying a vehicle, purchasers like to be kept up to date with the progress of their order. Automated order status updates based on the purchase can achieve exactly that. They offer the recipient reassurance that their order is being fulfilled. Whilst also showcasing that the brand is reliable and helpful. Lastly, order status updates can provide a perfect opportunity to upsell based on the vehicle purchased. Items such as GPS systems or valet service may all be considered when a customer is anticipating their purchase. Image source – Spindlow – Post-purchase follow-ups Post-purchase marketing automations are essential for communication with your customers at every stage of the buying journey. They are especially useful for checking in with the customer with upsell opportunities. Such as scheduling a service, or tyre upgrades. Image Source – Venhq Dynamic content Dynamic content is one of the most useful features that automotive marketers can use to improve their personalisation. With dynamic content, marketers can automatically generate engaging creative that is up-to-date and unique to the recipient. By adapting their emails and website based on individual consumer’s behaviour and preferences, marketers can offer a truly personalised experience. Throughout the entire customer journey. Personalised banners and content One-size-fits-all eCommerce stores and emails are a thing of the past. Instead, real-time banners allow marketers to engage with consumers by showcasing the content that is most likely to grab their attention. For instance, by using relevant data, automotive brands can tailor their banners to match the specific vehicle that the consumer has shown interest in or has recently purchased. Image Source – Spindlow Product recommendations 80% of consumers like to receive product recommendations based on their browsing and purchase behaviour. But this tactic is also great to encourage shoppers to finally make their first purchase. By using behavioural data, product recommendations will automatically populate items based on categories and products that the recipient has viewed the most, or has purchased in the past. For instance the make or model of a vehicle that they have shown the most interest in. This could include a reminder of the vehicle they were viewing, specific add-on products, or even alternative vehicles that may be more tempting to them. Image Source – Autotrader Pricing Researching the purchase of a vehicle can be a long process. And pricing plays a big part in the final decision. Therefore, for big-ticket items such as vehicles, pricing needs to be completely up to date. By utilising behavioural data alongside data feeds, automotive brands can automate real-time pricing for products the consumer has shown interest in. Which will be updated every time they open their email or refreshe a landing page. This is particularly useful if a vehicle they have been browsing has been reduced in price. And may offer that final nudge for them to enquire or purchase. Image Source – Usedcars.com Geo targeting Despite an increase in online purchases. Many consumers will still want to view, test drive, or pick up the vehicle they are considering purchasing. This means that location is still essential in automotive marketing. With the use of geo targeting, automotive brands can target recipients based on their specific location. And use dynamic content to showcase vehicles and dealerships in their near vicinity. Image Source – Motors.co.uk Are you a brand in the automotive industry? We understand that significant changes to an industry can be difficult to keep on top of. And can really put the pressure on your business. At Pure360, we can help. We have supported other brands in the automotive industry to attract, retain, and engage customers with the use of personalisation, our all-in-one AI marketing platform, and our Customer Success Team. Get in touch today to find out more.