Why Automotive Brands Should Leverage UGC at Every Pit Stop on the Road to Purchase

By Matthew Ralph - March 13, 2019
4 mins read time
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It’s easy to get lost on the road to buying a new car.

Often, the journey is winding with twists and turns that take buyers from practical “I really need a new car” moments to emotional “Wow! Heated seats!” exclamations and back to pragmatic “Can I actually afford this?” decisions, and so on.

With so many touchpoints to pass through when considering all of the automotive options, buyers typically change their minds and then change them again before settling on a final purchase that ticks all their boxes.

In fact, when Think With Google ran a study on the car-buying process, the report found that during the three-month period leading up to a consumer’s decision to lease a car, her research included over 900 digital interactions. Nine. Hundred. Interactions!

So, in only 90 days, Stacy made 900 decisions on her journey to buy a car. For marketers, that’s 900 touchpoints where a brand should be serving content that will inspire consumers to move down the funnel toward a purchasing decision. That’s a huge amount of opportunity for marketers — and lot of considerations for consumers — before a final automotive purchase is made.

Why is car-buying such a long and stressful process? It all comes down to trust. Car buyers have a historical distrust of car salespeople, and to ease the anxiety of being tricked or oversold, they’ve begun looking to intermediaries that can establish the trust they need to feel comfortable making a buying decision. And one of the most important intermediaries that can provide an authentic viewpoint of a potential new car purchase is social media — specifically, the consumer-created content that friends and family in a car buyer’s circle have posted.

According to a new Stackla report, 45 percent of people say content from friends, family or other consumers was the most influential in helping them decide which car to purchase. And, given the choice between user-generated content or a branded automotive visual, the majority of people said the user-generated image was the most authentic, more likely to make them trust the brand that posted it and the most likely to be the image they would click on if both were featured in an ad or social post.

And, Deloitte backs this up, reporting that word-of-mouth from family and friends is the top source of information for car buyers across a majority of countries. People trust the real reviews and opinions of the people in their immediate circles. And, these days, user-generated content (UGC) is the modern form of word-of-mouth marketing.

The same Deloitte survey also found that recommending vehicles to others is a major activity in an average car-buying experience. Half of people who consider 4 or more brands recommend at least 1 brand to others. And, according to Accenture, 28 percent of car buyers want to see other owners’ experiences and comments on a make or model of a car.

The need for automotive consumer content is clear. So how are automotive companies putting user-generated content to work in their marketing strategies?

Toyota boosts Facebook ad engagement by 400% with UGC

When Toyota launched the global “Feeling the Street” campaign across their Facebook advertising strategy, they aimed to highlight and celebrate the world’s best street performers. Over six weeks, Toyota invited street musicians to capture their acts and post images and videos across social media using the #FeelingTheStreet hashtag.

Fans could then vote for their favorite artists, and the top 40 would become the ultimate street band, traveling and performing across Australia and sharing their performances on social media.

Toyota then obtained the rights to these winning user-generated photos and implemented them across its Facebook ads. Through the campaign, Toyota achieved over 1.2 million engagements (likes, comments, shares) against a target of 800,000 – a 440% increase in total engagement from the previous years’ Facebook ad campaign.

Mazda enhances email newsletters engagement with UGC

Mazda has taken their email marketing efforts to the next level by leveraging the user-generated content created by Mazda drivers across their emails.

Adding UGC to the email newsletter brings authentic, relatable content to a top-of-funnel touch, piquing the interest of potential and current Mazda owners alike.When 62 percent of people say they’d be likely to post a photo or video of a positive car buying or leasing experience, it’s no surprise that Mazda had plenty of content to choose from to feature in their UGC email gallery. And, email marketing has proven itself a worthy channel for authentic consumer reach; on average, Stackla customers see an 8 percent increase in email click-through-rates after implementing UGC.

Subaru engages its community with social competitions

A brand typically known for its family-oriented values, safety and reliability, Subaru wanted to showcase their community-driven voice by running two social media hashtag campaigns in an effort to source consumer-created content. The first, #LookingGoodCanada, was a social competition asking Subaru drivers to share pictures of their favorite Canadian adventures for a chance to win a trip for two to celebrate Canada Day in Ottawa.

With the contest, Subaru was able to generate hundreds of pieces of authentic user-generated content while engaging and rewarding their loyal customers.

In their second social media campaign, Subaru reached out to more Subaru customers, asking them to share their stories from behind the wheel of their Subarus by posting images with one or both of the #MySubaruStory or #SubaruCanada hashtags. If a visitor happened upon the page without being a Subaru customer, the page invites users to “check out what they’ve been missing.”

Subaru could then leverage the user-generated images they sourced through the campaign and feature them on their own social media channels, like on Instagram below.

Automotive brands capture more customers with UGC

By leveraging user-generated content across all of the touchpoints where consumers stop on their journey to buying or leasing a car, automotive brands can drive more purchases and ultimately create more brand advocates.

From implementing social galleries on global homepages and running national social media contests like Subaru, to adding authentic UGC in email newsletters like Mazda or developing engaging Facebook ad campaigns like Toyota, automotive brands are acting on the power that authentic consumer-created content provides in tons of create ways.

Interested in learning more about enabling user-generated content across your automotive brand’s marketing strategy? Schedule a demo today.

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