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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Apr 28, 2003
How To

Automotive Ads Online: How to Get Consumers to Sign Up to Take Test Drives at Their Dealership

SUMMARY: Can a banner ad lead directly to a test drive? Yup. If you include email in the campaign. Hear how one auto maker did it.
Most banner ads focus on either branding or click throughs. Can you use an online advertising campaign to directly affect offline activity?

An automotive company recently challenged online marketing firm Bluestreak to come up with a campaign that would not only capture data on prospective car buyers in Europe, but then get those prospects to show up at dealerships for a test drive.

While she can not reveal the automotive company's name (yes, you definitely would have heard of them), Bluestreak's Chief Marketing Officer Annette Tonti was able to share campaign details and results with us to inspire you:

Campaign Step #1: Initial Data Capture

The campaign used a series of standard banner ads, floating ads with a car driving across a Web page, Flash-based expanding data capture banners and skyscrapers. Some ads invited the viewer to play a driving game, others showed video of a TV commercial.

Ads appeared on various portals such as regional Yahoo, AltaVista, and Ticalli, selected by the auto maker's European media buying agency, as well as on top automotive sites such as Autotrader, Parkers, Fish4Cars. Since wireless is hot in Europe, Bluestreak also created ads on PDA news feeds such as AvantGo.

When consumers clicked on the ads, a data capture form popped up, encouraging people to book test drives. Consumers were prompted to submit their email and first name and last name.

Campaign Step #2. Using the "Thank you" email to garner leads

When that initial data capture was complete, an instant personalized "Thank You" email was sent. It contained a click-through to a form where the test drive details were captured. This form collected yet more detailed contact info.

Next, the automaker's central call center reviewed the info submitted to the database and made arrangements with that consumer's local dealership.

After test drive arrangements with the dealer were made, a confirmation was emailed to the consumer that included:
- the data the consumer supplied,
- the date and time of their scheduled test drive,
- the dealership name, location, and telephone number,
- and the name of the customer's salesperson at the dealership.

Campaign Step #3. Remind them to take their test drive

The day before their test drive date, customers received a personal reminder email, which included all of the confirmed test drive details, plus pricing information on the car and a link to a referral form where customers could recommend up to three friends to take also test drive. Consumers could even add a short car "review" or other comments to be sent to their friends.

Each referred friend received a personalized "Referral Email" that would hopefully start the test drive signup process again.

This referral message was clearly marked with the referring friend's name and email address. A prominent call to action to arrange a test drive (and thereby opting-in to receive further email correspondence) took center stage. Without accepting this option, the friend would not receive any further emails.


Campaign Results:

The campaign, which launched on December 2, 2002 and ended on February 28, 2003, served 7 million initial ads on ten portals sites and wireless networks.

These resulted in thousands of clicks which converted into 2,000 completed data capture forms. "A total of 350 people went the whole 9 yards and test drove the car," Tonti says.

About 30 of those drivers came from the "refer a friend" link. Seventy of them came from the wireless ads.

Final car-buyer numbers are unavailable, but according to Tonti, industry data shows that 15-25% of people who test drive a car end up buying that make and model.

http://www.bluestreak.com
See Also:

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