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Although it’s certainly not all about the numbers, looking at brand following audiences is arguably a good place to start a discussion about Social Media and automotive digital marketing. Socialbakers provide us with a great tool to analyse such statistics, here displaying brand Facebook followers for UK brand pages.

automotive digital marketing

Facebook Top 10:  Bentley is strangely included twice, so the second entry has been excluded.

There is one caveat to the above, relating to Bentley and McLaren. Both of these are British car brands, so rather than being ‘UK’ pages, they are in fact global brand pages, based in the UK. Aston Martin is another example; although not included on Socialbakers’ list, their global Facebook page has attracted 3.7m likes. Perhaps more pertinent therefore, would be the ‘Local Fans’ figure, which only counts those fans based within the UK. Here we can see that Volkswagen are the clear leaders, followed by the oft-warring German giants, Audi and BMW.

So, let’s take a look a closer look at some social offerings, in particular, the BMW UK Facebook page. The first good point here is that there are regular updates from the team at BMW, at least once per day. Keeping your audience engaged with new content is vital when planning and implementing social media, so it’s good to see updates with such regularity. However, content needs to be relevant and interesting to be of value – try and look through the eyes of your followers (and potential customers) when considering content. You could even consider asking someone not directly involved with the business to take a look (with unbiased eyes), and offer their suggestions.

One criticism I’d have with BMW’s page is the use of ‘Apps’. Facebook allows companies to build their own apps to use on their pages, for a variety of purposes as they see fit. Apps sit in an app ‘tray’ near the top of a company Facebook page, with the first four ‘primary’ apps being displayed on the Facebook landing page. Common uses for apps include games and competitions, amongst others, which often provide a great way of integrating a valuable data capture element into your social media presence.

automotive digital marketing
Average Apps:  Some of BMW’s Facebook apps are a tad questionable.

I’d suggest that, in this case, BMW aren’t really leveraging their Apps to their full potential. We find included two individual ‘car configurators’. While the apps themselves aren’t a negative experience, it is strange that only these two models are included – this strikes me as being fairly disjointed decision; why not integrate functionality for the entire range?
Alongside this, there also appears to be a few apps, such as ‘House Rules’ and ‘Goodwood Festival’, which are completely redundant. Sorting these out would take relatively little effort so, for me, this removes the polish from an otherwise strong page.

Now, let’s touch upon Twitter. Car brands in particular, can find themselves particularly exposed on social media channels to the wrath of disgruntled customers. The problem is in the business model; when you are selling a product through a network of franchised dealerships, the jurisdiction you have over those dealerships is, to a point, limited. Customers (quite rightly) are unlikely to see the distinction between being angry with a car dealership and being angry with a car brand, so perhaps misdirected vents are inevitable.

It’s good to see therefore that, via their Twitter presence, both Ford and Volkswagen have been proactive in tackling this problem, using dedicated social media customer service channels. Alongside their regular twitter feeds, the company’s maintain the ‘@FordService_UK’ and ‘@VWUKHelp’ handles. Many of you will have heard about the British Airways twitter debacle, when a frustrated customer used promoted tweets to spread his disdain for the company last year. Unsurprisingly, this was a wake-up for many equally reputable brands; we need to integrate some level of customer service with social media.

Automotive companies should take heed of the actions of Volkswagen and Ford and strategically implement their own Social Media customer service plans. Whether offering a fully integrated social media customer service operation, or something up to that, one thing is for sure; customer queries via social media simply can’t be ignored as part of the automotive digital marketing strategy.

We’d love to hear your comments. Drop us a tweet @perceptiveflow or alternatively, you can leave your thoughts below.

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This is the first ‘Industry Focus’ blog, in which I’ll be discussing digital marketing in an industry specific context, in this case automotive digital marketing. By this, I refer to the car manufacturers who choose to sell their wares in the UK; from Ford to Ferrari, Honda to Hyundai.

After a tough couple of years (2008 saw an 11.3% reduction in new car registrations over the previous year), UK car sales are now in the height of a strong recovery, fuelled by a national economy that is for the first time beginning to reach pre-recession levels.

Automotive digital marketing
The usual suspects:  The top 10 car models sold in the UK in 2013 are almost all household names.
(Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – Motor Industry Facts 2014: http://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/SMMT-Motor-Industry-Facts-2014.pdf)

So what of digital marketing in the industry? To provide a structure to the discussion, I will segment this post in two specific sections; Online Presence and Social Media.

Online Presence

Car manufacturers, like so many others, rely on the web for a huge number of sales leads. The complexity here is that, this isn’t an e-commerce business model in the traditional sense; you cannot actually buy a new car via a manufacturer website (some innovators aside). In my opinion therefore, such websites must do two fundamental things to be effective;

  1. Showcase models in the most attractive and assessable way possible.
  2. Promote and streamline the process of capturing sales leads and providing this information to the relevant dealership.

Take a few minutes to peruse the website of one of the world’s leading luxury car makers; Japanese firm Lexus. When it comes to making their cars look beautiful on the web, they are simply unmatched. Let’s take the landing page for their ‘IS 300h’ for example. Here we find a veritable hub of information, headed by beautiful interactive 360° imagery. Scrolling down, you come across data provided by the independent user review website ‘Reevoo’, intuitively integrated directly into the page. Scroll further and there is a plethora of interesting content to consume; videos, images, even an interactive car configurator – all in one place with no click-throughs required. To put it simply, what we have here is a fantastic showcase for someone in the market to purchase a new car; an impressive suite of content that is more than likely to tick all of the boxes.

Now let’s compare this directly to one of Lexus’s competitors, in this case Mercedes Benz, and the landing page for its ‘C-Class Saloon’. Where is all of the powerful product imagery and video? Why isn’t there any additional relevant content? We find a few sections focusing on the model’s features, but it takes a number clicks to land on any substantial content, and the content itself isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing and is quite copy-heavy.

Imagine you had no former knowledge or bias between the two brands. If purely judging on web presence, which would you be more drawn toward? – there’s only one answer really.

Lexus’s lead generating activities too, namely brochure and test drive request mechanisms, are obvious and intuitive. Regardless of where you travel on the site, ‘floating’ icons appear on the right-hand side of the page, pointing toward such activities. The process of requesting a test drive is also very easy – there are only a few fields to complete and again the whole process can be finished without leaving the model landing page.

It’s also worth making a note on web responsiveness at this point. I’m happy to report that both Lexus and Mercedes have been reactive to the need for a mobile optimised web presence, as you would expect from companies of their size. There are however, a few laggards. Chrysler is one of the guilty parties, with a website that at the time of writing isn’t at all responsive to mobile devices. In a world where mobile now accounts for more than a quarter of online traffic, this is fairly inexcusable.

Automotive digital marketing
Fully Responsive:  It’s good to see that most car manufacturers are alive to the need for a fully responsive web presence.

Check out part 2 of my ‘Industry Focus’ incoming next week, where I’ll be taking a closer look at brand social media presence within automotive digital marketing.

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I’m sure we’ve all encountered a ‘Quick Response’ – QR code before, that small black and white box you can scan with your phone to magically point you toward some kind of additional content. They were first created in 1994 by a Japanese data capture company; originally designed to track car parts. Since then, marketers have latched onto them as a way of effectively linking people to further content from print campaigns, while there are also a number of creative ways the general public have utilised the codes.

qr code
Versatile - There’s no real limit as to where you can print a QR code.

But have you ever wondered, what do all the dots mean – is there method behind the madness? The answer, of course, is yes. Here’s a helpful graphic that’s sheds a little light.

qr code

  • Version Information:QR codes come in all number of sizes, depending on the amount of  information (or number of ‘modules’) required. The size of a QR code is known as the ‘version’, falling between versions 1 and 40, dependant on size. For codes version 7 and above, these two 6×3 boxes must be included containing the version information string, notifying the size of the code.
  • Format Information:The format information string provides information on the level of ‘error correction’ and ‘mask pattern’.There are four levels of error correction, L M Q and H. To put it simply, this is information on how much ‘backup’ data the QR code holds. For instance, Level L has the least backup data. This means that the physical code could receive up to 7% of damage before it is likely to no longer work. Level H however, tells us that the code contains much more backup data and therefore, can take up to 30% of damage before no longer being functional. QR code users can change the level of error correction depending on the intended use for the code i.e. how likely is the code to be damaged? The ‘toss-up’ here is that, as we increase the level of error correction, we must increase the version (or size) of the code, in order to hold the additional data, which could prove problematic if space is tight.The mask pattern contains a formula for how the matrix of the code will be outputted (there are 8 available). It starts to get a little complex here, but the basic purpose of a mask pattern is the make the final QR code as easy as possible for a QR scanner to read.
  • Timing:The timing boxes always alternate between black and white, and therefore don’t contain any ‘information’ as such. Rather, these boxes are used to help detect the position of each cell in the ‘grid’ by the end-user mobile application.
  • Position & Alignment:These parts are compulsory in QR codes, regardless of the size, and are used as detection patterns. One master-stroke of the QR code makers is that they can be scanned from any orientation. When the end-user scans the code, the three position boxes and analysed for their position against the alignment box, therefore allowing the program to work-out which way the QR code is facing. This is particularly useful if the QR code was printing on a postal package for example, so can be scanned quickly and easily from any direction.
  • Everything else:The rest of the code contains the particular data wishing to be transmitted. QR codes can hold a whole number of different formats of information – including numeric and alphabetic characters, symbols, binary and Japanese characters. A QR code can hold 100 times the data of a conventional bar-code, allowing for far wider functionality.

So there we have it – QR codes for dummies, on a basic level. The codes have had a bit of a troubled life in the marketing world, a significant problem being poor quality content behind boxes. Just think about it, how many times have you scanned a code to find fairly useless or uninteresting results at the other end? In this sense, we should be careful when using QR codes, much in the same way we are with content marketing – don’t do it just for the sake of it.

Another issue that has limited the value of QR codes is the lack of standard end-user software. Neither Android or Apple mobile operating systems include QR code scanning apps pre-loaded. In many cases, this is a deal-breaker; a significant barrier between QR code content and the consumer.

Have you used QR codes before? Perhaps have a think about how they could be relevant for your business activities.

Until next time.

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Electronic mail, commonly referred to as e-mail since 1993, has become a pivotal part of our lives. With 39% of the global population using the internet (this rises to over 70% in developed countries), it is not surprising that email has become the communication method of choice. According to Mashable, 144.8 billion emails are sent each day – just over 20 emails for every single person on earth.

With this in mind, it’s no understatement that email has become a fundamental part of our lives. However, in the modern world where project teams often cross company borders (as well as international ones), is it time to look beyond email to more collaborative and intuitive tools?

Remember Google Wave? Probably not.  The big G launched that particular product back in 2009 – an in browser communication tool that was hailed by some as the next evolution of email. TechCrunch sum the idea up well in their review:

‘Everyone uses email and instant messaging on the web now, but imagine if you could tie those two forms of communication together and add a load of functionality on top of it – that’s essentially what Wave is.’


Google Wave - A remnant from Google’s past.

However, Wave was destined for the Google Graveyard, taking its rightful place alongside projects such as Google Buzz and Google Answers. But why did Wave fail? There are a number of reasons raised by those who did get some time service during its limited run; an overly restrictive invitation only policy, the lack of a notification system and a relatively sluggish user experience to name just a few.  Quora user J E. Johansson is probably closest to a definitive answer;

‘Simply put, it was an amazing idea with decent execution but it was something only an engineer could fall in love with, and thus it failed to be adopted by the mainstream.’

Despite its failure, Wave gave us a taste of the kind of collaborative tool that could revolutionise the way teams work together. Now in 2014, some 5 years after Google Wave, new players in the market are beginning to emerge, looking for the ‘holy grail’ – email 2.0 if you will.

Introducing Business Collaboration

Dustin Moskovitz is a name synonymous with tech innovation – one of the infamous founding members of Facebook.  Since leaving the social media giant however, Moskovitz has been working alongside Justin Rosenstein, also of notable Facebook alum, on the task management software Asana.

‘Work without the drudgery’ Eric Markowitz describes it in his Inc.com article. The general aim of the software is to reduce the time people spend doing ‘work about work’; essentially sending emails, making phone calls and other bits of admin. Indeed, a 2012 McKinsey report suggested that the average worker spends 42% of their time either reading and answering emails or communicating and collaborating internally (see fig. 1). When you add the time spent information gathering into the mix, we find that workers shockingly spend just 39% of their time on role-specific tasks.


Figure 1 - (Source: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_social_economy)

Software like Asana and its compatriots are attempting to combat this apparent loss of productivity head on, by making collaboration easier, quicker and more intuitive.

Sounds great, right? And by all accounts it may well be. Whether it is indeed Asana or one of a myriad of competitors (see getflow, LiquidPlanner and Teamstuff to name just a few), it’s quite easy to envisage how software of this nature could revolutionise the way we work.

There is a significant barrier such services must overcome to achieve large-scale success however – adoption. While take up is strong from tech-savvy startups, the much harder challenge will be encouraging larger enterprises to make the jump. As companies grow, many become increasingly cumbersome and resistant to change. Business processes become woven into the company’s very fibre – which can be very hard to break. Embracing a new way of collaboration is not as simple as investing in new software, it requires a change in culture; a new way of thinking.


Generation Y - Does modern collaboration require large businesses to adopt a whole new mindset?

The key for this particular lock therefore, may be in the targeting. Software sales teams should look to introduce their services not simply to a new company, but to particular teams within a company. By ‘infiltrating’ individual teams for their internal projects, business collaboration services should be able to grow their presence gradually within a larger business – and I mean gradually, this isn’t a change that will happen quickly. There are a significant number of workers out there who are so intrinsically invested in a certain way of working that it is simply unlikely they will ever change. Task management software therefore, is probably an idea that sits best with Generation Y; 18-32 y/o millennials. However, with Forbes reporting that 50% of professional millennials are already in leadership positions, perhaps the end of email really is on the (distant) horizon.

Do you use software to help organise your teams? Drop us a comment or a tweet (@perceptiveflow) – would be great to hear your thoughts.

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Feeding your audience with both valuable and relevant content has become more important than ever in marketing today. Much of what we do is no longer aimed to directly sell a product, but wants to make someone laugh or make someone cry; begin or maintain an emotional relationship between brand and consumer that should trickle down to improved sales. With this in mind, lots of brands have caught on to the opportunity of Piggyback Marketing.

I’m personally rather fond of Piggyback marketing, as it’s often where we can find examples great innovation and genuinely quick thinking.
Take, for example, Jeff Bezos’ announcement last year that Amazon had begun testing the use of ‘drones’ for delivering products to its customers;

The story in itself received a wide amount of press coverage from both sides of the pond, while also being a hot discussion topic on the various social media channels. Such coverage provides a great opportunity for rival brands to ‘piggyback’, if they can produce the appropriate content to do so effectively.

I give you ‘O.W.L.S’ by Waterstones

and ‘Drone 2 Home’ by Netflix;

I guess the lesson here is to not just keep a close eye on your competition, but also on what’s going on with wider current affairs, for piggyback marketing opportunities. More and more brands are becoming aware of the need for ‘real-time’ content; catching the crest of a wave and ‘piggybacking’ it all the way to great customer engagement.

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Facebook announced today to have reportedly spent $19 Billion on the purchase of the popular instant messaging app, WhatsApp.

This got us thinking, what else could one do with a spare $19 Billion lying around?….

Food for thought.

Until next time!

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Since its launch in 2003 (yes, pre-facebook), LinkedIn has recruited over 250 million users to its professional networking website. It is by far the most popular site of its kind, used by companies and employees the world over to maintain professional relationships, hunt for new opportunities and put themselves in the ‘shop-window’.

Alongside its powerful networking tools, LinkedIn also provides marketers with a number of products. In a similar fashion to Facebook and Twitter, businesses on LinkedIn can use a ‘Company Page’ to advertise their offerings and directly update followers with the latest news. Should you choose, you can then promote this content to LinkedIn’s wider user base, by utilising the Sponsored Updates platform. Promoted content appears in the news-feeds of particular users, alongside the organic content from the other users and companies they follow.


Small, medium or big business? Samsung is just one company taking advantage of LinkedIn sponsored updates, although clearly to a B2B audience. 

There are a number of key factors that make LinkedIn Sponsored Updates a viable option when considering your marketing communications:

- Being a network for professional industries, more than half of LinkedIn’s members have a college education or higher and an average household income of $83k in the US (Nielsen, 2011). With such a demographic at your disposal, LinkedIn allows the broad targeting of a highly educated and relatively affluent audience – do you imagine this would be as simple to achieve using Facebook or Twitter.


Relative affluence. The percentage of LinkedIn’s users with a household income of £70k+ is far higher than the GB average.
(Source: Quantcast LinkedIn Report – https://www.quantcast.com/linkedin.com?country=GB) 

- As you would expect, the site offers marketers detailed targeting for promoted content. Your audience can be segmented by age, gender, industry, job function, seniority and/or geography. Sponsored Updates therefore, can be directed towards a relevant audience, providing improved engagement and lead generation performance.

- The LinkedIn platform is very well suited to both B2B and B2C brands. B2B brands can target those in particular job roles, key decision makers, in a more formal environment than other social media channels. Indeed, LinkedIn is already the most popular social media site with B2B marketers, with 91% choosing to use the site to distribute content.


(Source: B2B Content Marketing, 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends North America- Available at http://www.iab.net/media/file/B2BResearch2014.pdf)

If your business has a B2B focus, I suggest taking a read through this report on B2B content marketing in 2014 – it’s an interesting read.

Talking in B2C terms, again LinkedIn provides marketers with unique opportunities. In this case, its true value lies in marketing goods of a relatively high value or particular niche. A perfect example would be a saloon car, popular with executives and probably of the German persuasion. These models start from around £25,000, and are often enjoyed by company car drivers for their comfort, prestige and fuel economy. It would be easy therefore to argue that, utilising a channel where the available audience are generally industry professionals, often with higher than average affluence, is a no-brainer?

LinkedIn has presented many companies with a great opportunity in its Sponsored Updates platform. The site’s user base of industry professionals could prove invaluable to both B2B and B2C marketers, who can choose to target those in particular industries or job roles. With 91% of US B2B Marketers already using LinkedIn to distribute content, is now the time for your company to take advantage?

 

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Wirehive 100

The Wirehive 100 Awards were created to showcase and celebrate outstanding digital agencies in the South of England and draw attention to their technical, creative and marketing achievements. This years Wirehive 100 awards were held at Guildford Cathedral and hosted by comedian Russell Kane.

Wirehive compiles a league table of the top 100 agencies in the South that have demonstrated delivery of high quality solutions to their customers and whom have shown excellence in their field. We are delighted to have been placed at position 48 in just our first full year of business.

Our aim at Perceptive Flow is to build outstanding bespoke solutions that our customers love helping them to become exceptional businesses online. With ambitions to become one of the UKs leading agencies over the next few years we feel that this is the first step on an exciting journey.

With plans to make more clients happy over the days, months and years to come Perceptive Flow, we hope this will be the start of many awards for outstanding work!

Guildford Cathedral

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Hi everyone! This infographic shows the things people spend their time on, whilst on the internet:

Infographic - what people do online

Infographic – what people do online (percentages)

In a summary… Social media/networking usage tops this list, with a large 21% of all people’s time, being spent on it. This shows how influential and crucial social networks are – both to people, and brands – in being able to promote, communicate and market themselves.

At a close second, general internet browsing comes in at 18% – who could live without all the answers and knowledge the internet can bring!?

Lastly – reading & writing emails is 14%, whilst all other things – such as playing games, online streaming and more, come in at much smaller results.

Until next time!

 

 

 

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Continuing from last time, I mentioned how hashtags can be used to market and promote new albums of singers … To finish up the section, let’s go more in depth into this topic of online marketing.

Here are some main reasons why Hashtags are so useful today:

#OnlineFashion:

Many people began using hashtags as a means of looking “cool” to others – even before Facebook even supported them as a tool of communication. The things which people tweet often, are much more likely to spread online. Marketers can use this to their advantage – due to the fact that they will be able to tune into what little things people wish to talk about, whether on Twitter, or Facebook. They are then able to create content or communications revolving around what is “cool” and trending at that time – giving them more scope and audience.

#amicoolyet?

#CampaignEnhancing:

If you have a business… You’ll know that attempting to start a brand new, exciting campaign –with it’s very own personal hashtag for it (which you invented) – to enable easy access to any comments / tweets etc made about it. It is also recommended to use a more common, widely used hashtag within this, if necessary. For instance: if you were doing a new design campaign about a web design company, it would be good to include the hashtag #webdesign – perhaps enhancing the amount of views to the post / tweet.

#GoingViral:

#ViralSuccess

This may not be necessary for everyone – but for those which are creating content frequently – chances are, they wish to be heard, seen and reached out to. By using hashtags – companies, artists or celebrities are able to go huge within the online community… Even if the hashtags don’t allow you to get big – You could still get some follows or likes – which could help within the long-term success of what it is you’re trying to achieve.

#Communication:

… I know. Yes, We’ve all seen the annoying youth of today, who spend all their time online – tweeting and updating in a language of hashtags. People used them on Facebook long before they became any sort of function for the network. It was just a craze; an ongoing fashion of people using hashtags like they would use slang. Things are still the same today – by people writing sentences into hashtags like so:

#omfg

It’s easy to communicate back via hashtags – but try not to overuse them… It looks tacky.

And so, to round up. This was a long journey, through the confusions of Hashtags… But it’s been fun, right?

Until Next time.

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