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New Car Lead Generation: Ignore customer emotion at your peril – 5 takeaways to maximise the performance of your campaigns

Understanding the emotional rollercoaster of buying a new car and how customers are feeling during every micro-moment of their journey will transform your campaign performance.

Car manufacturers are undoubtedly the experts in understanding the primary triggers which bring a consumer ‘in-market’ for a new car – from family lifecycle events (some of us have had to morph from boy racer to safety conscious family man, with bags of room for child seats and a dog) to technological innovation and efficiencies. (One manufacturer even went as far as to identify 72 separate triggers and uses them in campaign creative!)

Despite this, Deloitte claim that a staggering 85% of car buyers do NOT think that they purchased their perfect car. How is this possible?

Put simply, researching a new car is over-whelming, emotionally draining and consumers are still wary of dealerships and indeed, the manufacturer brands.

In a study by Nationwide, 38% of respondents claimed that negotiating with a dealer was the most painful part of buying a new car. 11% felt that working out affordability was the main headache and 19% felt that financing the car was the main pain point.

In the same study, respondents claimed that buying a new car is just as stressful as preparing tax returns, jury duty and public speaking!

Three months. 900 digital micro-moments.

The various stages of the buyer decision-making process have been well documented. Although the latest research suggests there is no such thing as a traditional funnel. Instead, consumers flip between them over an average of three months:

  • What are the best options?
  • Which is right for me?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Where should I buy it?
  • Am I getting the best deal?

Google recently added to the research by mapping out typical user journeys over three months for consumers looking to purchase a new car. It used the example of Stacy, whose journey included a staggering 900 digital touchpoints or micro-moments in her path to finally selecting and buying her new car.

Interestingly, only 20% were with manufacturer websites and only 8% we were with dealerships. This means that over 70% of Stacy’s research took place elsewhere and, as we have seen above, it was probably a highly stressful experience.

Stacy’s consideration set went from 14 brands she explored at the top of the funnel down to six brands she compared in some detail, leaving her with a decision between two brands and her ultimate purchase.

14 brands across 900 micro-moments over three months – and only a 15% chance of making the right decision. How depressing.

There is a better way!

There will be as many as 2,500,000 new car sales in 2018. Excluding fleet, that’s potentially over 1m consumers who may have a similar experience as Stacy.

Billboards on motorways, the ads on trains and TV adverts all continue to have their place. But, when it comes to digital budgets, there is a more effective way than scatter-gunning display ads or relying on the micro-moments that take place on manufacturer websites or dealership sites via search or paid social.

Here are The Lead Agency’s 5 take-aways that will improve your digital new car lead generation campaigns:

  1. Test using triggers in ad copy and CTAs – search is absolutely still the strongest signal of intent but as Google’s research has shown, our search terms don’t always give away what our trigger is
  2. Brand is one of the least important elements for consumers during their research (premium brands aside)– they are much more interested in value for money, features and the opinion of their friends and family
  3. Most consumers decide which car is right for them BEFORE they research whether or not they can afford it – yet a lot of the first touch messaging is around financing
  4. We’re dealing with people, they aren’t aware that they are in a funnel or a target market! Let’s start producing copy that addresses the emotions and stress they are experiencing just by looking for a new car, and ways to remove it! One in five car buyers feel they are being confronted with too many deals
  5. Nearly half of all respondents in Deloitte’s study claimed they changed their mind about the make of car they wanted AT LEAST once during the buying journey… which means there’s plenty of conquest opportunity out there

Written by Justin Thorne, Head of Digital at The Lead Agency.

Enjoyed this content? Then why not discover more practical advice and insight here: ‘8 customer-centric tactics to dramatically increase lead quality and performance