Category Archives: Content

TLA’s VanGuide rebrand: meeting van buyer needs

Any rebrand or digital overhaul offers an opportunity for introspection. It’s a chance to learn what’s working well and what needs to improve. Having recently relaunched VanGuide to the market, we took some time out with Ishan Sonavane, Product Manager at TLA to talk about the reasons behind the change and the key insights it provided.

Why was the decision made to rebrand VanGuide?

The website has been in our stable for a long time, providing van buyers with sought-after content on light commercial vehicles.

The site generated a high percentage of organic traffic. Visitors engaged well with a range of content. This included practicality reviews, dimensional specifications, reliability, and alternate fuel sources for vans. That engagement was important. It provided valuable insight for OEM into customer behaviour and preferences.

OEMs can use that insight to deliver better services to their customers. From purchasing a new van to supporting them through van ownership.

But the site needed an overhaul to deliver the most value to its visitors. We wanted to make it easier for them to access commercial vehicle content. That meant we needed new functionality, such as ‘search by attribute’ features. We also added the option of getting in touch with manufacturers using calls to action on our model pages. For the OEMs, it was about giving them a way of attracting customers at all stages of their purchase journey.

“This was a rewarding project to be involved with, which I thoroughly enjoyed working on. Being able to create a new site where each type of van buyer would be able to find an ideal van for them…”

Ishan Sonavane

What research informed the approach?

We collected as much information as we could from different sources. The first step was to research existing publications and studies on van usage, historical sales, trends, patterns and so on. We also looked at van blogs, forums, model-specific websites, and any other user-generated content. We sent out two surveys. The first was to see how visitors felt about the current version of VanGuide. What they liked. What they didn’t. What they wanted to see from a new version, etc. We also dug deep into their purpose for visiting the website.

The second survey was for in-market van buyers. This had questions about their purchase journey. It covered brands and models they had considered, reasons for choosing certain brands and models, as well as important attributes when choosing a van.

We were able to classify the information into distinct categories. This shaped the decision-making process for the redesign of the website.

What were the key findings about in-market van buyers?

The second survey provided key insights into customer behaviour. We identified two personas that informed the rebuild: private/individual owners and business/fleet owners. All were considering or actively looking for EV alternatives for their next purchase. However, the availability of new vans was still a key concern.

Vanguide Homepage
The Van Guide Website Homepage

What are the key factors that in-market van buyers consider when searching for a van?

  1. Practicality. When purchasing a new van the most important factor is its load-carrying capacity. i.e. Load volume, maximum weight, etc. The most visited pages on VanGuide are dimension review pages.
  2. Cost. As expected, cost plays a vital role in the decision-making process. Most compare prices from the competitor offerings before choosing a new van.
  3. Reliability. For most, vans are their source of livelihood. They need a workhorse that won’t let them down. Van buyers research user reviews before purchasing a van to find out how reliable a product is.
  4. Multipurpose. Some owners use vans for purposes other than work (e.g. school run, getting groceries, etc.). Having a good cabin with features such as Bluetooth and sat-navigation affects their decision.

This was a rewarding project to be involved with, which I thoroughly enjoyed working on. Being able to take the project from idea to execution was very satisfying. It was nice to see that the hard work we put into researching and designing the website paid off. Getting positive comments from our users about the new version of the website has been the cherry on top.

"TLA engages with audiences when they're at the point of consideration, providing a wealth of information and knowledge via their content and websites, to help the consumer navigate the uncertainty and disruption within the car industry."

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you came to be at Performics.

I’m originally from Sweden, I grew up and went to university there. After working in Sweden for a year post-university, I decided I wanted to live abroad and try something new. I packed a bag and moved to London to try it out, 10 years later, here I am.

I joined Performics in 2016, starting out as an account manager. Now, I lead the affiliate team at Performics and look after activations, such as affiliates, influencers, and lead generation activity. That’s how I came into contact with TLA, I’ve had a relationship with them pretty much from the start.

How did you come to work with TLA?

When I first started, we had just onboarded the FCA Group as a new client. I had recently transitioned to an account director role and was overseeing a smaller team. The FCA Group fell under one of the account managers that was reporting to me, which initiated conversations with our main automotive providers, TLA being one of them.

It also helped that our previous head of team had a great working relationship with Anton, which meant I was quickly introduced to him and involved with TLA. We got along well, and I believed in the product.

What products and projects do you work on with TLA on day-to-day stuff?

Pre-Ukraine war and pre-chip shortage, and all the other fun stuff we’ve been dealing with throughout 2021 – 2022, our focus was very much on test drive activity. Essentially getting leads passed on to dealers to follow up and conduct test drives, with the ultimate aim to sell more vehicles.

Recently, there’s also been a bit of a shift relating to the challenges that the industry is facing, where test drives aren’t necessarily the main KPI that clients are looking to engage in. It’s also unlocked a lot of other challenges, whether that’s budget uncertainty, or even the reduced production of cars, which has naturally taken the industry down a path of more used versus new cars, which again can be quite challenging from a marketing perspective.

The channel is quite misunderstood, affiliate or lead generation, sometimes isn’t as appreciated as it should be, in my opinion. TLA engages with audiences when they’re at the point of consideration, providing a wealth of information and knowledge via their content and websites, to help the consumer navigate the uncertainty and disruption within the car industry. I see this playing out in a way where these types of publishers are playing a bigger role and have increased presence within clients’ media budgets, as impartial advice becomes more crucial to determine what vehicle to purchase.

10 years ago, the decision-making process was a lot simpler, where the main consideration was centred around which car to buy. Whereas in the future, there are more variables to consider – particularly as the industry shifts towards electrification and EVs. For instance, there’s a lot of range anxiety amongst consumers when considering an electric vehicle and independent third parties are better placed to help consumers navigate this, compared to manufacturers.

Is your relationship typical of a client-supplier relationship?

I would like to think that I am quite a personal individual. This is what I enjoy about affiliate marketing, it’s quite a personal media channel, where you’re not just inserting numbers into a Google or Facebook bidding platform with minimal personal input, you’re building a relationship and a partnership. This is how you unlock the biggest benefit for your clients, for yourself, and also, for the partner.

There’s very much a symbiotic relationship that takes place with the relationship at the centre of it, but I would also say that, as you engage in manners more personally, you do end up crossing paths with people that you might connect with more in other areas. That’s where I would categorise Anton and his team. They’re very open in terms of engaging their partners in different ways. I took part in the recent London to Brighton cycle, and a few years back, I took part in a charity game, where we went up to Liverpool to play at Anfield stadium.

So, I wouldn’t say typical, because they do go above and beyond in terms of creating positivity in the industry and give back, whilst creating a forum to bring people together from different walks of life and different areas within the industry to listen, but more importantly, keep strong relationships with whoever they’re working with.

Has there been a big evolution in the way you work over the past couple of years?

The pandemic and challenges experienced throughout the industry since then have changed how we operate. It’s mainly manifested in our attempt to help our clients navigate the uncertainty that we’re all experiencing, whilst realising that no one has all the answers and no crystal ball to see what the future holds. We’ve been able to come together and look at what we can see across our partners, publishers, and clients, to get a broader understanding of the market and determine how to tackle what might lay ahead. I don’t necessarily believe that our role has changed, but conversations have certainly shifted to cover larger, structural issues within the industry, rather than focusing on campaign optimisations and how to best position our clients in front of consumers.

What opportunities or challenges do you see over the next 12 months?

It’s clear that there’s a huge emphasis on EVs and a shift towards green energy. Particularly as legislation is also starting to point the industry in that direction, to the point that that’s now a given, in my opinion. Instead, I believe the challenges for the industry are more centred around tightening the macroeconomic landscape, urbanisation, and declining rates of car ownership overall. Even though consumers will still want to own a car, and will continue to do so to various degrees, dampened wage growth, in real terms, could prohibit the ability of car ownership – particularly for younger demographics. I envision this causing a move towards subscription-based services and OEMs trying to penetrate the sharing economy, causing car-sharing services to eat a larger chunk of the pie, at the expense of individual car ownership.

Urbanisation could also decrease the need for individual car ownership and cause an uplift in micro-transportation services such as e-scooters rental schemes, as consumers need to travel shorter distances and where a car would be more inconvenient than other forms of transportation. I could envision this being another shift taking place in the coming five to ten years, which will challenge the industry but also create some opportunities.

Automotive News Round-up – 11 July

The automotive industry is an ever-evolving industry thanks to challenging economic conditions, emerging innovative technologies and new generations of car buyers.

We’ve identified four automotive news stories this month that highlight some of the key challenges and changes being faced, with insights from industry experts on how automotive brands and their suppliers can adapt.

  1. Why car brands need to adopt customer-focused digital KPIsAM Online looks at the key findings from a Frost & Sullivan’s Intelligent Mobility event.
  2. Government plan to cut emissions gets mixed responseCar Dealer Magazine speaks to motoring groups about the Government’s plans to reduce emissions.
  3. World Cup of car manufacturingThe Telegraph compares the beautiful game with automotive prowess as it reviews which countries are the world champions of car manufacturing .
  4. Five original automotive campaigns driven by unconventional thinking – Get inspired with some of the latest creative work from the automotive industry, as chosen by The Drum.

Written a piece of content you’d like us to share? Let us know.

TLA unveils new site for Car Keys

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the new Car Keys website, which has been redeveloped and designed to offer a faster, mobile-friendly experience for its users.

Car Keys is our online automotive publication dedicated to people researching and buying a new car. It helps thousands of people to explore their options and easily identify the vehicles that best meet their needs.

With its user base growing quickly, we undertook a full review and in-depth research to plan a complete rebuild and redesign of the website. The end result is a faster, user-friendly experience optimised for all device types – particularly mobile, which is the source of more than half of all traffic to the platform.

Car Keys’ acting editor Ryan McElroy said: “Our new site is now multi-device friendly, with bespoke interfaces designed specifically for use on mobile and tablet, as well as on desktop. It is faster to load than ever before and features a much-improved user journey, so users will find easier to access all of our great features.

“It’s better looking too, with a complete redesign that more effectively incorporates integrated images and videos, so you can enjoy our content across all forms of media in one easy to navigate destination.”

Consumers with intent

Car Keys generates thousands of leads, which are subsequently nurtured by the TLA team. Our focus on finding real consumers – those with intent to buy – has helped us create growth opportunities for automotive manufacturers such as BMW, Mini, Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Škoda.

Tom White, who joined TLA as automotive managing director earlier this year, commented: “Car Keys is an increasingly recognised consumer brand that’s rapidly growing its audience of car buyers and enthusiasts. It provides impartial information and advice so that people are able to make more informed and confident decisions. We’re all about making it easier for consumers to make the right decision on their next new car, and then connecting them with the best place to test drive and buy.”

For more information about our automotive offering, drop us a line.

Start your batteries…

Our Car Keys team have created a brilliant new video to reveal the performance levels of electric cars.

Electric Car Range Race: How far can electric cars go? is a retro gaming animation, inspired by racing games of the elate 80s. It features eight of the UK’s best-selling electric vehicles from manufacturers such as Telsa, Renault, Hyundai, VW, BMW, Nissan and Kia and identifies which one performs the best.

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