The following is an article by Kontera’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Ammiel Kamon that was originally published on the iMedia Connection blog.
The online shopping process isn’t just limited to your computer anymore.
Participating in the recent JD Power Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, the biggest trends to emerge involved the potential of mobile and tablet, along with the importance of having a strong social media plan. There’s overwhelming data that speaks not only to the growth, but to the effectiveness of these emerging platforms for automotive marketers.
In the automotive vertical, mobile advertising has risen 239% in the last year and that appears to just be the tip of the iceberg. Here are some quick facts I came across at the conference:
- Nielsen projects that by Christmas, one in two adults will have a smart phone.
- 50% of all new cars are expected to be purchased by either iPhone or Android owners.
- According to a JD Power study presented at the conference, almost ½ of in-market shoppers use their smart phones at some point during the process of choosing a car.
- 75% of in-market car shoppers engaged with social media on their phone.
With more and more affluent, in-market shoppers utilizing mobile devices during their decision making process, there’s no question that the automotive industry need to follow, a fact just as true regarding tablets.
However, it’s important to approach tablets with a unique strategy from smartphones, as shoppers use them for different purposes. For instance, Cars.com found their mobile site utilized for inventory search and car value lookups, while more new car related activity occurs on tablets. The key difference being with larger screens and better battery time, tablets lend themselves more to in depth research.
When properly optimized, tablets are a powerful way to reach interested consumers. Eric Miltsch of Auction Direct USA, reported how visitors accessing their used car website through a tablet are already converting 25-30% better than visitors from any other platform.
Even more than mobile and tablets, perhaps the hottest topic of conversation at the conference was about social media and how to harness it. Here are some fascinating statistics relating to social media:
- During 2011, 4 out of 5 new vehicle buyers are using the Internet in their buying process; looking at on average 3.7 models online.
- According to an Autoguide.com study, when purchase intent is expressed through social media 45% of the time it’s on forums, 21% on social networks, and 14% of the time on blogs.
- 2.4 million in-market shoppers used Facebook in some way to make a vehicle purchase decision.
- 58% of consumers are likely to mention their new car and/or buying experience via social media.
- 82% of mentions about car purchases on social media are positive.
As evident in these numbers, a tremendous amount of the consideration process occurs online and on social media channels like forums and social networks specifically. According to Robert Brown, the head of online marketing at Nissan, the majority of decisions made on social media platforms concern dealer reputation and vehicle reviews. This occurs on social media, as opposed to company websites because third party advocates carry more authority with prospective buyers.
These third party advocates represent a great untapped resource. Scott Kelly, who manages the Ford brand online, wisely observed that the Automotive industry abandons the customer right at the height of their emotional excitement –right after the purchase. By extending the period of engagement, the number of positive testimonials will substantially increase, thus influencing the next cycle of in-market shoppers.
Additionally, the sphere of influence is very top heavy; by reaching out specifically to the hyper influencers that are the most active in forums, you can also significantly raise your social media profile.
In all, the general message at the roundtable was the status quo is not enough. The convergence of mobile, tablets, and social media are significantly changing the experience of shopping for a new car. In order to reach a qualified in-market audience, the way Automotive is marketed needs to evolve as well.
I, and the Kontera team were honored to be invited to the event, and pleased to share our viewpoints on the relevance and benefits of tight Editorial Alignment within the mobile, tablet and social domains. We highly recommend next year’s JD Powers Automotive Digital Marketing Roundtable to any marketers, publishers and technology vendors who are interested in the future on-line direction of the automotive media landscape.