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Car buyers may spend 59 percent of their journey looking at pricing, various models and choosing which dealerships to visit, but actually getting behind the wheel is a key purchase decision factor. Ride 'N' Drive events and test drives give potential customers first-hand experience on the comfort level of the vehicle, how it handles, whether they feel confident in maneuvering it and countless other details.
Something as simple as the position of the radio controls could make a major difference in their selection. The test drive is a must-have part of the journey for 67 percent of car buyers, and Ride 'N' Drive events help OEMs market their vehicles at a critical stage in the customer's journey.
However, some OEMs struggle with optimizing the Ride 'N' Drive and test drive experience. Data can solve this issue, but only if the automaker has a way to collect, analyze and use it for better results.
When they reach the point of test driving the vehicle, buyers are typically close to the end of the funnel. Buyers spend 2-4 weeks scheduling test drives and visiting dealerships to look at vehicles on their shortlists for test drives. They want to know whether the car is as good in-person as it is on paper. Seventy-five percent of car buyers purchase the test-driven model, often on the same day.
The buyers are looking for a way to validate their decision making if they have already made a choice, or to act as a deciding factor between several prospective models. The vehicles have their undivided attention, and the dealership can focus on talking about the benefits that fit that customer's needs the best.
The salesperson has a captive audience and the ability to see the person's reactions during the drive. They can gauge whether to direct the buyer to a different model based on this input or push to close the sale and get them in that particular one.
Ride 'n' Drive events open up the possibility of car models that the buyer may not have considered before. Since they get the opportunity to try out the vehicle or go along with the ride without heading out to the dealership, they may find themselves adding a new possibility to their car purchase shortlist.
Hyundai had an innovative take on the Ride 'n' Drive concept. They're delivering the vehicles on-demand in partnership with Amazon Prime Now, a two-hour delivery service for Amazon purchases. The promotion was for the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Interested individuals could sign up for a test drive through the Prime Now app. They got up to 60 minutes to drive the model around and were directed to the dealership handling the program if they wanted to make a purchase.
The Jeep Rocks and Road Ride 'n' Drive event showed both sides of the vehicle. Attendees could compare how it handled on the road and off-road, with tracks designed to showcase the features of these cars.
Automakers may end up using too many tools to try and collect information about their Ride 'n' Drive events and test drives, or solutions that are better suited for other forms of marketing. The data gets spread across multiple applications, spreadsheets and even on paper. OEMs don't have visibility into the buyer's decision-making process or a way to meaningfully analyze the effectiveness of the event in this scenario.
Only 30 percent of event professionals think that their companies do a good job at collecting experiential data, and 75 percent feel that they are unable to take advantage of opportunities to get more information about event attendees due to a lack of data integration.
While test drives are a typical part of the buying process at the dealership, Ride 'n' Drive events require a lot of extra work for the OEM and the dealership.
This investment is wasted if it doesn't result in qualified leads. However, fixing potential issues are impossible when they can't see what's going on. The customer experience is disconnected from the rest of the journey and a lack of standardized data capture makes it difficult to compare results.
Experiential marketing software that's designed to centralize, collect and analyze event data can offer OEMs the insights they need to get on a path of improvement. This software can help brands understand what's going on during Ride 'n' Drives and how to use that information to lift sales.
Software can help brands get better insight into their consumers—whether they changed their mind on a model based on a Ride 'n' Drive, and how many people went on to actually make a purchase.
Getting the buyer to the dealership or event and behind the wheel is challenging enough. Once they're actually driving the vehicle, the OEM needs to get as much information as possible during the process. Software empowers the brand, experiential or event team to gather this data in order to improve the process and the customer experience.
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