By Tom Laymac, Global Director of Digital Marketing, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles
Approaching marketing problems with a myopic silo mentality is one of the biggest limitations in the industry today. This is particularly true with the automotive behemoths, where the brand, regional, and dealer segments known as tiers behave as autonomous entities, each responsible for their own successes and failures.
Auto shoppers do not differentiate between messages coming from the dealer and the manufacturer. Consumers whether they are still in the research phase or ready to buy want to have their questions answered with as little friction and confusion as possible.
This is where tierless marketing comes in. By removing silos and consolidating data, auto manufacturers and dealers can see these consumers through the same lens, aligning and even reinforcing the response back to the consumer, thereby permitting a more seamless customer experience regardless of where that customer is in their purchase journey.
But if you work in the auto industry or another industry that has traditionally relied on a tiered approach to marketing, there are some things to consider if youre looking to go tierless.
Align KPIs to drive toward one common goal
When teams work in a vacuum, it creates gaps in our understanding of the entire customer journey, often into an incomplete or incorrect answer to the customers question. Brands need to integrate their business teams and goals so they can project a cohesive image, simplifying the path for their customers.
Until recently, each tier within our organization defined success differently. At a brand level, we were focused on driving upper-funnel metrics like brand awareness and increased reach while our dealers were solely focused on driving leads. We had different KPIs being measured through different analytic platforms, by multiple agencies, each through their own lens.
To combat this, we made operational changes across the organization to ensure key stakeholders across the tiers within the brand, sales, and marketing group were all looking at the same data, in the same way — and coming together at the same time to discuss how we collectively respond. A unified response to addressing the identified constraints along the path to purchase drove alignment and reduced internal conflicts, while substantially reducing variation in how we message to the consumer at different stages along the path to purchase. Ultimately, we focused on achieving one goal: increasing our digital contribution to retail sales – or the percentage of retail sales that are attributed to a form or a phone lead.
Connect customer insights through a single platform
Previously, we were only looking at segments of the customer journey, so there was no way to understand what the consumer had just done or was coming from. We knew what that consumer was doing on each individual website, but we couldnt stitch together a coherent journey to understand their real intent we couldnt move people along to the next stage, closer to purchase.
In response, we partnered with the 2,700 dealers in our co-op program and started to bring customer data into a single measurement platform — in this case, Google Analytics 360. Since manufacturer, regional, and dealer website data is now being pulled into a single place, its much easier for us to see what the customer previously did or researched and then guide that customer through to the next stage with the appropriate context without redundant or irrelevant messaging and confuses the consumer, which can actually drive them in the wrong direction.
Accept the detours
We know were still not 100% there yet. One of our remaining challenges is optimizing the experience as the consumer bounces between the brand, regional, and dealer experience. Each tier tracks and continually improves the consumer experience within their own ecosystem. Next, we need to stitch the experience across all tiers every page, image, and click to eliminate redundancy and efficiency to get them to the next step. This challenge is exacerbated by the large number of website providers and certified digital media providers we work with.
Despite these headwinds, we are making definite progress. As we continue to improve how we handoff the customer between tiers, we know we must be flexible. As our customers bounce back and forth between tiers, it’s our job to make their experience as seamless as possible.
Although were still in the early stages of this coordinated strategy, were happy with the results weve seen thus far: targeting high intent consumers in a coordinated way yields a more efficient paid search spend. Even in this early stage, weve been able to more than double our digital lead retail sales at the same marketing cost. This strategy has also enabled us to strengthen the bridge between tiers and make more informed marketing decisions.
Ultimately, our role at the manufacturer level is to be a connector to help potential and existing customers get where they need to be without taking the relationship away from the dealer. Striving for better marketing alignment across tiers and a more holistic view of these future customers are key to driving the future success of our brands.
About the Author
Tom Laymac currently directs the creative, development and functional management for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. business-to-consumer digital properties, which consists of brand and corporate websites, the digital business for 2,600 dealers, lead and data management, CGI, and digital analytics.