<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=138329627367473&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Julia Manoukian


March 8, 2018

Auto Shows: The Ultimate Guide to Experiential Marketing 2.0

Julia Manoukian

See More

It shouldn’t be a secret that auto shows are an essential part of the OEM brand calendar. Nowhere else can OEMs connect with a large volume of highly engaged consumers than at major international auto shows.

But the current system is flawed.

Currently, automotive brands depend on too many disconnected tools and agency partners for their experiential and event marketing campaigns.

On top of that, brand marketing teams and their agencies have less time and resources to deliver even greater results.

Watch our latest webinar, "The Future of Experiential & Events: How Top OEMs  Leverage Digital To Impact Engagement & Bottom-Line Results," and learn what  major brands like Cadillac and GM are doing to deliver a rich brand experience  and drive sales across tiers. 

The question on everyone’s mind is: How can I make sure I maximize every consumer touch point leading up to, during and after the event in multiple way to increase handraisers, leads and sales?

This guide will outline how these teams can do more with less to improve the results of their auto show marketing.

How can you increase efficiencies in your auto show workflow? What options are available? And, most importantly, how can OEMs track results for auto shows, ride 'n' drives/test drives and more to ensure they are meeting their desired objectives? All this information and more, below.

Problem: Too Many Tools, Too Little Time

Let’s get straight to it: Automotive marketers and their agencies depend on a variety of tools and custom solutions to run their auto show experiences.

Auto Shows: The Ultimate Guide to Experiential Marketing 2.0They use a CMS to build their microsites, survey software to create contests/surveys and analytic tools to track and report on consumer behavior.

Most OEMS also use custom solutions to specialize in a part of their auto show. One provider will focus on a wheel stand, another on digital kiosks, and so forth.

The result? Subscription and licensing fees for multiple products are costly. And every time you need a new asset, your agency or internal team has to create it from scratch.

No wonder as many as 54% of car buyers say they would pay more for a better buying experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price.

Better Results Start With Putting the Consumer First

More and more OEMs are using digital to improve efficiencies across their own efforts and for the consumer.

They see an opportunity to cut costs, improve engagement and boost sales significantly. These internal operating efficiencies are what will set the leading auto brands from the laggards in the coming years. But don’t take our word for it.

  • Creating a clear and unified view of the consumer purchase journey to improve handoff from OEM to dealer could increase average spending effectiveness by up to 67%.
  • Over the next 10 years, the automotive industry will get $263 billion from an improved omnichannel customer experience from direct revenue and efficiency savings

The best practices below were compiled by sourcing third-party data from industry experts such as Forrester, Accenture and Autotrader, and by analyzing internal data working with hundreds of  OEMs across North American Auto Shows.

Using Software To Improve Auto Show Results

If automotive brands want to create an experience that’s as premium as they are, digital must be an essential part of their strategy.

McKinsey analyzed 24 customer touch points for more than 9,000 new car buyers and identified seven core touch point dimensions of consumers’ willingness to pay. Of these, digital experience ranked second most important, just behind live experience.

This rest of this blog provides eight actionable best practices to help automotive marketers improve the overall digital auto show experience for consumers, increase the quality and quantity of engagements and ultimately sell more vehicles at the dealership.

Whether you target the luxury automotive segment or the mainstream consumer market, these actionable pointers will help you develop an onsite display and digital system which captures consumer attention, offers them a seamless experience and provides sales reps with the critical information they need to service patrons in the most personalized manner possible.

1) Interactive Wheel Stand Kiosks

Capitalize on the traffic and awe that your vehicles generate with strategically placed wheel stand kiosks.

These interactive kiosks, located beside display vehicles, should act as your hub for consumer engagement with basic product information and brand imagery.

At their core, they function as beautiful interactive product brochures that entice consumer interest. Ensure your wheel stand kiosks have maximum impact by checking off the following.

  • Engagement with your brand is never higher than at an auto show. Your wheel stand interface gives consumers a full overview of the models and trim levels you offer that are being showcased.
  • Capture relevant consumer data with forms and contesting that are easy and intuitive to use.
  • Strong CTAs include: contact a dealer, request a test drive, request a brochure.
  • Integrate multiple consumer experiences and decision trees.
  • These consumer journeys are built on the principle of serving personalized content and relevant calls to action based on the unique inputs of onsite consumers.

Your interactive wheel stand not only acts as an informative and engaging brochure, but also as a portal for further targeted engagement with your brand that extends beyond the auto show.  

Transmit any information collected through forms and calls to action right from your wheel stand kiosk straight to the dealership, and sort by postal code, so that these leads can be followed up by local sales reps.

2) Product Specialist App

Consider building a product specialist app to create an interactive experience for brand ambassadors. With the app, they will be able to look through the consumer’s basic information, as well as images, models and videos of the cars.

The goal of this app is twofold: it offers an additional entry option to floor kiosks while also acting as an extension of the kiosk experience.

The more information you can collect from each person, the better you can service them—and ultimately sell more cars. Your app should be able to do the following:

  • Be attractive, but also functional. Include relevant calls to action and consumer information questions so you can progressively profile and collect more information.
  • In contrast to the wheel stand kiosk, the specialist app incorporates deeper product information and targeted calls to action related to booking test drives and dealership appointments.
  • For consumers who are interested in the detailed product information, make sure the app has the ability to book specialists on the showroom floor.
  • Have your floor representatives approach consumers for deeper engagement.

3) Pre-Invitations for Customers

Reward current customers and loyal brand enthusiasts before the auto show with customized invitations that include incentives like free tickets, discounts, or preferred entry to the auto show. These invitations are particularly effective for consumers with a short purchase timeline.

With a simple personalized digital invitation, you not only reward their loyalty, but create an opportunity for deeper engagement, and extended data capture and up-selling or cross-selling at the auto show or dealership. Maximize your pre-invitation strategy by doing the following:

  • Cultivate an atmosphere of exclusivity for these guests—something they won’t forget.
  • Consider strategies such as a VIP area for your loyal customers with complimentary drinks and food, or give them a first look at your newest product line. These are key factors in their perceived value of the invitation.
  • Your product specialist can then come over with a visual app, and take down consumer information.
  • The digital experience should mirror the exclusivity of the in-person one: Data entry, onsite applications, check-ins and product kiosks should incorporate a simple user interface, upscale branding and the ability to deliver automated personalized content.
  • After the event, send a thank you email along with relevant content to help consumers with their purchasing decision and push them towards buying a car.

4) Contests for Hand-Raisers

Qualified leads may be the most likely targets to convert to a sale, but hand-raisers form the foundation of your future marketing efforts. They haven’t purchased a car yet, but have shown interest in your brand by providing their basic information.

It’s important to capitalize on the shear traffic of the auto show and collect as many hand-raisers as possible. One of the most effective ways to do this to offer contesting.

  • Maximize opportunities with hand-raisers by offering contesting with a higher perceived value.
  • Offer a prize with a high perceived value such as a once-in-a-lifetime or VIP experience to increase engagement and capture more data.
  • Unlock high perceived prize value by developing hyper targeted contest experiences in locations and venues where the majority of consumers have a proven interest in the specific opportunity you’re offering.

Example: During a recent promotion of the newly redesigned Civic, Honda encouraged consumers to become “Fantographers” by taking photos of the Civic on display and posting to social media with the hashtag #CivicReborn for the chance to win great prizes. This improved the performance of Honda’s contest by enticing consumers to become brand advocates with the simple addition of social sharing.

Auto Shows: The Ultimate Guide to Experiential Marketing 2.0

5) Personalize Offers and Content

Whether in a brand’s contesting, follow-up communication or triggered emails, messaging should always be personalized. 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases or knows their purchase history.

Additionally, those in auto who use marketing automation to do this are 2x more likely to see higher marketing ROI than dealers who do not use marketing automation.

The more personal and relevant the offers, the more likely consumers are to continue engaging and ultimately purchase a vehicle.

  • Ensure your personalization goes beyond simply including the consumer’s name.It must include their interests and requests as collected from the auto show or dealership.
  • It must include their interests and requests as collected from the auto show or dealership.
  • Make a consumer’s decision easier by providing relevant and easy-to-find information, basically everything the lead needs to convert.
  • Example: list financing options if the consumer listed their time to purchase as within 1-3 month time-frame.

6) Test and Measure

Being able to track engagements, brand ambassador performance and your communication is critical to discover which offers, contests, headlines and calls to action perform best and drive the most engagements.

The more personal and relevant the offers, the more likely consumers are to continue engaging and ultimately purchase a vehicle.

  • Incentivize your top performing brand ambassadors and ensure that they are always present on busiest auto show days so that all relevant consumer data will be captured.
  • The more you can scale and track testing on a national level, the better. The goal should be to track and measure every activation at every auto show.

Following these eight best practices will increase results, create an immersive experience for consumers, increase the number of opportunities to capture richer data, and ultimately provide a superior consumer experience at your auto show that will lead to higher sales.

New Call-to-action

Something Powerful

Tell The Reader More

The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.


  • Bullets are great
  • For spelling out benefits and
  • Turning visitors into leads.

Subscribe for Updates