Industry trends and innovative strategies for targeting auto audiences
In 2017 the Australian Auto industry has experienced similar sales numbers to previous years, but July saw a sizeable uptick. In the past, high fuel prices pushed consumers towards smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, but more recently SUVs have shown a surge in sales as well.
How can auto manufacturers take advantage of car buying trends and get ahead of the purchase cycle? Cracking the code of the digital journey remains one of the foremost challenges for auto makers. Many marketers still struggle to identify customers early enough in the car buying process, when people begin their research online.
This report will help auto brands and marketers connect the dots from interest to intent. Using real data from auto websites, we will explore how consumers begin their comparison journey on review websites, and what content they consume there. Then we will move further down the funnel to analyse the audiences of competing car models, and how marketers can reach true purchase intenders.
Interest: Comparison & Review Sites
See what content people consume on car review sites — and find out which manufacturers rely on them most.
The Importance of Comparison & Review Sites
Breaking down the top ranked websites in the Automotive category reveals just how important comparison and review sites truly are. Whereas Carsales, Carsguide, Car Advice and Drive rank well within the top five, the highest-ranked manufacturer website (Toyota) sits all the way in 24th.
Comparison Site Reliance
Based on the weight that consumers give comparison sites, its important that manufacturers regularly benchmark their performance and reliance on sites like Carsales, the #1 auto website in Australia.
The chart below breaks down the top brand websites that receive traffic from Carsales. Although Toyota has the highest total traffic occurrences from Carsales (unsurprising considering they are the largest manufacturer), Volkswagon Australia has the largest occurrence share from Carsales. This means that a significant percentage of Volkswagon’s overall traffic (7.06%) comes from Carsales, as does BMW’s (6.46%) – they are highly channel reliant on Carsales compared to other manufacturers, and may consider doubling down on a partnership with the site to increase this flow of traffic.
Toyota claimed the largest amount of Traffic Occurences, whereas Volkswagen possessed the largest Occurrence Share.
Key Pages on Comparison & Review Sites
Measuring high-performing content on comparison sites can help manufacturers identify specific pages to target, or provide ideas for content creation and search optimisation. The example below shows the top pages viewed on Carsales.com, the most popular classifieds site in Australia.
Next we look at the top pages on Car Advice, a prominent news and review site, to better understand how and what people are researching in their comparison journey.
Model Comparison & Audience Overlap
Learn how launches affect traffic benchmarking, and which car models have the most audience overlap.
Benchmarking: Riding the Wave of Traffic
How can manufacturers turn the launch of a competitor model into an advantage? The chart below shows how the publicity around a car launch can create a “halo” effect for similar models. The new Volkswagen Golf experienced a month-long burst in traffic to their product page after their July launch. Industry leader Toyota Corolla mirrored this traffic growth, perhaps due to renewed excitement around small cars in general, or a concerted effort by Toyota to capitalise on this enthusiasm.
During the buzz of a model release, consumers tend to research what makes the new vehicle special—including how it compares to other models in its class. This effect is something that auto marketers should benchmark closely and take advantage of during competitor model launches.
Car Model Audience Overlap: Consideration Set
As consumers conduct car research, it pays to understand their consideration set. Which model is your car being compared to? Knowing what segments you overlap with helps manufacturers understand the competitive landscape, but also whose audience they can conquest.
Profiling Purchase Intenders vs. Browsers
Find out what makes car purchase intend-ers unique, and where to reach shoppers with purchase intent.
Consumers Tentative to Test Drive
In this section, we’ll move further down the funnel and focus on audiences who hit the “Book a Test Drive” or “Find a Dealer” sections of manufacturer’s website.
First, a look at the numbers: when comparing total visits to the “Book a Test Drive” vs. “Find a Dealer” page, we see that far more people are interested in going to a dealership in order to further their research process in-person, rather than go straight to booking a test drive online. Based on this, manufacturers may want to feature their “Find a Dealer” call-to-action more prominently on their site and ensure the process of locating a dealer is streamlined.
Top Websites for Browsers vs. Intenders
The chart below breaks down a selection of key websites visited by car browsers (people who visited car product pages) and intenders (people who visited a “Book a Test Drive” or “Find a Dealer” page). This helps identify the best places to target consumers who are at the end of their car buying journey, particularly those who are intending to purchase.
Understanding the nuances of how browsers vs. intenders search can help marketers optimise their SEO keyword strategy and search campaigns aimed at attracting high-intent car buyers.
Audience Differences of Intenders vs. Browsers
Demographically, 25-34 is the most important age group for both car browsers and intenders. However, car intenders are much more likely than browsers to be aged 35-44, meaning this is a key age group to target.
When it comes to Mosaic audience segments, the most affluent and urban groups are key targets for both browsers and intenders (Groups A, B and C). However, intenders are more likely to be from multicultural families (Group H), young professionals and students (Group I), and older Australians from regional areas (Group K).
Benchmark and optimise performance on comparison sites: The car buying journey begins on review and classifieds sites. Benchmarking your performance within these websites is crucial. Track popular pages in order to keep a pulse on what consumers care about, and consider advertising on review sites based on where your model pages rank well.
Take advantage of competitive model launches: Capitalise on the “halo effect” of a new car launch by promoting a similar model of the same class. Consider creating new content based on popular search terms, increasing PR, or partnering with car review sites in order ride the wave of renewed interest in that class.
Distinguish the browsers from the buyers: Analyse the online behaviour of people who have booked a test drive or sought a local dealership — where they go, who they are, and what they are searching for in the days before purchase. This enables you identify and to target people with the highest purchase intent.