For Chrysler, the most exciting possibility of online marketing is in using the Web as a critical middle touch point during the consumer purchase process.
The automotive giant still relies for the most part on traditional media -- TV, radio, print -- to get basic brand and offer messaging out. But before the Internet there was a gaping hole in the sales funnel between consumers seeing ads and actually visiting a dealership.
So, the Web has become a coaxing mechanism, warming leads and moving them through the educational and emotional process until they are ready to take that big step.
Now, as Bonita Stewart, Chrysler's Director of Interactive Communications, explains, the company's big marketing challenge is in integrating online and offline. "We've been aggressively pursuing strategies that improve TV, radio, and print results by using the Web as a landing page to drive consumers further into our purchase model."
"If they click to our site, we know there's awareness and interest. If they go into the build and price area, we know we have purchase consideration. If they request a dealer quote or schedule a test drive, then they are absolutely at the extreme lower end of the funnel."
Of course the main problem then becomes, how do you drive a click from offline advertising, and how can your landing page push consumers to take their individual next logical step -- no matter where they are currently in the sales cycle? CAMPAIGN
The biggest mistake many marketers make is to spend all their creative energies on the outbound campaign, and then tack on a landing page or microsite almost as an afterthought.
Chrysler did the exact opposite.
First the creative team invented the most compelling microsite they could think up, and then they figured out the best way to get the word out about it.
Step #1. Quiz microsite (Link to sample creative below)
The landing page was developed deliberately to get the highest possible number of visitors to start clicking and interacting immediately. So, instead of focusing on Chrysler, the page focused on the topic nearest to visitors' hearts -- themselves.
The headline read:
"Thanks for stopping by. Okay, here’s the deal. Answer four questions about what you like and Discover Your Ride."
Instead of boring demographic questions, visitors were posed four questions in turn, each with fun answers:
Question #1. What is your ideal getaway?
Question #2. If you could have one superpower, what would that be?
Question #3. What phrase best describes your attitude toward traffic?
Question #4. What’s your favorite kind of movie?
To encourage quiz participation, a "talking head" virtual host invited visitors to start answering questions. Plus, the Q&A choices were in extra-large typeface, and there weren't any other visual distractions on the page aside from Chrysler brand logos tucked up in the upper corner.
And, as a visitor clicked on an answer, the next question page would automatically appear. You didn't have to manually click to turn the page or move on. You were swept into the experience.
Then on the final page, as payoff they saw the three Chrysler vehicles that most matched their personality-type. Then, visitors could take further actions from there depending on what stage of the sales funnel they happened to be in at the time:
- leaving the site (hopefully with raised brand awareness)
- visiting their choice of Chrysler brand websites
- virtually building and pricing out a model
- locating a dealer and requesting a test drive
Step #2. Developing a radio campaign
The team decided to test the microsite with a radio campaign, because it could be developed and launched quickly, and they loved the idea of experimenting across a wide variety of drive-time formats to see which type of station worked best.
They bought a package of 15 drive-times, 60-second spots per week, to run on 186 stations across the US on the third weeks of June, July, and August 2004. (Thus, hopefully sending the hottest leads to dealerships in time to help sales reps make their end of month quotas.)
For maximum impact, they chose live reads rather than canned announcements. And, instead of being sent a word-for-word script, the DJs and announcers were sent a one-sentence memo, plus a hotlink to the microsite.
The creative team also held a conference call with many DJs and announcers to rev up excitement about the microsite.
The goal was to get announcers to speak about the campaign in their own words... and drive their fans to check it out.
Step #3. Banners (Link to sample creative below)
To complement the radio fan connection, each station also placed a banner featuring a virtual host talking-head on its home page as well. The station could choose between a male and female host. Clickthroughs then saw a matching host at the microsite.
The host would move its head slightly in the banner, but remain politely silent until such time as a visitor clicked on it to hear the audio message:
"Head Banger, Boot Stomper, Silky Smooth? Your music says who you are. Now discover your ride to match your musical style."
So far the campaign has had phenomenal response rates. The radio station banners are getting an average 1.29% clickthrough rate -- however, this is a slightly deceptive average, because the male host banners are at .19% and the female host banners are at 3.35%.
During the week of the month that the announcers are doing live spots for the microsite, microsite traffic jumps 86.5% on average.
Best of all, 27% of microsite visitors engage in the quiz and answer all four questions to discover their ride. This is a stunningly high interactivity rate in our experience.
Of the 27% who get all the way through the quiz, 18.5% then take the next step and click on a sales funnel option to build or price a car, to seek a dealer or to go directly to a Chrysler brand home site.
Because this is a national campaign, you might expect some local differences in response rates. Not so, say the creative team. In fact the biggest differentiating factor seems to be the format of the radio station an ad airs on.
News radio tended to generate the lowest responses. Adult contemporary generated the highest -- perhaps because listeners were in an entertainment frame of mind and more likely to take a fun quiz.Useful links related to this article:
Creative samples of banners and microsite (static versions) http://www.marketingsherpa.com/chrysler/ad.html
Using Talking Heads in Your Online Ads - Test Results, Creative Tips & Useful Links: http://library.marketingsherpa.com/barrier.cfm?CID=2588
Oddcast - the company that created the talking-head microsite and banners http://www.oddcast.com
Organic - The interactive agency that scripted the microsite based on provided demographic research http://www.organic.com
Infinity Broadcasting - the network of radio stations that ran the spots and banners http://www.infinitybroadcasting.com