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Julia Manoukian


May 24, 2018

Experiential In The OEM Marketing Mix: How Leading Brands Do It

Julia Manoukian

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From beverage brands to financial service providers, more and more organizations are incorporating experiential into their marketing mix. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are also leveraging this technology in order to boost sales, increase revenue and move prospects through the sales funnel. 

In a recent webinar, two marketing experts discussed why more automotive manufacturers are test-driving experiential — and generating a huge return on their investment.

OEMs Should Think About Experiential Higher in the Purchase Funnel

OEMs need to switch their experiential marketing into fifth gear. Placing experiential higher in the funnel provides them with more opportunities to engage with leads and turn these into bona fide customers.

Porsche Cars Canada is an example of one company that has effectively put the pedal to the metal. The manufacturer is a regular at live events like trade shows and always places experiential at the forefront of marketing campaigns.

Interestingly, Porsche's marketing team doesn't always measure event success by the number of leads generated and converted. They look at other factors, too, such as engagement with visitors and social sentiment.

"Porsche is unique in that many [trade show] visitors want to come to our display to see what's new and exciting with Porsche," says Jennifer Cooper, marketing events manager at Porsche Cars Canada. "They might not necessarily come with a purchase intent. Porsche is a brand that people inspire to own, so consumer engagement comes from more of a fascination standpoint, as well as an ownership standpoint."

OEMs Should Leverage Digital Technologies at Live Events

OEMs have various ways to engage with customers at live events. These include:

Interactive Wheel Stands

Wheel stands help increase dwell time, engagement and ultimately sales (if used correctly!). These digital displays can be customized with varying features such as face detection, interactive displays and more to creatively display vehicle or other product specifications.

Registration and Check-Ins

OEMs who optimize their registration and check-in processes can dramatically increase results. This can be done through techniques like personalized content, landing pages, pixel tracking and redemption codes.

Personalized Emails

Customized marketing messages let OEMs communicate with customers more effectively. Research shows that personalized emails, on average, boost click-through rates by 14 percent and conversions by 10 percent.

Simply by personalizing a subject line in a follow-up communication based on finance offers, leasing offers or anything else can increase your open rates by as much as 3.2 percent, according to metadata from Limelight. 

Targeted Contests

Everyone loves a contest. OEMs use giveaways and competitions at live events as a way to capture valuable data from prospects. Visitors can enter a contest after completing a questionnaire, for example.

Analytics and Reports

OEMs measure experiential success with the latest analytics and reports from live marketing software. These programs provide companies with invaluable intelligence about how a customer thinks, feels and behaves before, during and after a live event.

Porsche is one automotive company that uses the techniques above at live events. It helps them target existing customers and brand new leads. "Porsche experiences are not limited to Porsche owners," says Cooper. "We have a lot of non-owners who want to try out the brand."

Cooper outlines the six activations that the company uses at various live events. The most popular, track experiences, let attendees test-drive sports cars in a track environment. One of their most successful experiences is based around the idea of consumers test driving Porsche cars on an iced terrain. "This is one of our biggest programs here in Canada," adds Cooper — travel experiences, racing experiences, adventure experiences and experience centers.

"These are all the ways Porsche gets owners and non-owners behind the wheels of our cars," says Cooper. "We feel it's imperative to not only display our cars at an auto show but get participants to experience what these cars are capable of."

Porsche is also improving its communication funnel by working with Limelight Platform. Going forward, the manufacturer will optimize registration, on-site check-ins, post-event surveys and follow-ups for live events.

OEMs Can Use Experiential to Target Millennials

"There's a lot of myths out there about experiential and consumers," says Ian Beavis, chief strategy officer at automotive company AMCI Global. "One of them is that millennials don't care about cars. But 34 percent of car purchases now come from this cohort."

This echoes other research that suggests millennials are redefining the future of car ownership. They are more likely to view transportation as an on-demand service instead of paying a fixed price for a vehicle, for example. OEMs can advertise alternatives to private ownership — car share programs, subscription-based leasing, new financing models — at live events.

OEMs can also create moments and memories at live events. For example, millennials can sit inside vehicles and learn about how a car was made. "A lot of people learn by doing," says Beavis. "So that physical aspect of learning how to use technology is essential."

"Consumers still crave a physical experience with a brand. Trade show attendance is going up, and it's being driven by millennials who want that physical experience in a non-sales, non-threatening environment. There's no substitute for kicking the tires and sitting behind the wheel."

OEMs who haven't incorporated experiential into their marketing mix have hit the end of the road. These companies should place experiential marketing at the top of the sales funnel, leverage digital technologies at live events and target car-loving millennials if they want to grow their business.Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Digital Auto Show Best Practices [Checklist]

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