The Power of Channel Diversity: How Automotive Brands Can Stay Ahead in 2024

April 19, 2024

Vehicles are high-ticket items that require buyers to invest significant money and time in them. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re incrementally looking for information from multiple sources to make the right decision. 

The more data they have, the higher their purchase confidence.

As brands, you have the power to provide easy access to this information. 

The most productive way to do it is by diversifying channel presence and being visible throughout the customer journey. 

Why is marketing on multiple channels indispensable today?

Based on recent observations and firsthand experience with our clients, we deduced five crucial reasons why you must widen your presence on multiple channels. 

1. Car buyers start their journey online 

Today’s automotive customers are decidedly more tech-savvy than previous audiences, changing the way they navigate the buyer journey. 

88% of potential car buyers research online, setting out on the road to a purchase – Ernst & Young, 2023

There’s a wealth of information about each car and brand online. As a result, buyers resort to consuming content on the web before walking into dealerships. 

2. More time spent on online research 

Vehicle buyers are also increasing the time they spend on online research. In 2023, they invested over 13 and a half hours researching and shopping for vehicles, seven of which were spent online. 

The process takes more time because they scour multiple channels: 

  • Brand websites
  • Social media accounts
  • Brand and expert videos
  • Expert and customer review websites 
  • Emails and newsletters
  • Mobile apps
  • Automotive Affiliate publishers
  • Streaming platforms, and more.

3. Yet, offline channels aren’t in the backseat 

Offline channels are very much in play, particularly during the consideration and decision phases in the buyer journey. 

87% of customers want to test drive a vehicle before purchasing it – McKinsey, 2023

And since test drives happen at a dealership, the brick-and-mortar channel will continue influencing buyers. 

4. Modern marketing models encourage a wider presence 

Take Tesla’s example of dealerless D2C selling. The brand mainly uses online channels, shaking up the age-old model of reliance on dealerships. 

Buyers finish the purchase much faster through online channels, improving the user experience.  

Then there’s the Agency or Retail Model. 

Brands take ownership of the buyer journey beyond the awareness stage. Plus, brands get access to multiple touchpoints to maintain a consistent customer experience. 

As buyers move forward, legacy brands don’t want to be left behind. They’re quickly adapting to modern marketing strategies and diversifying their presence. 

5. Multiple channels give a competitive edge 

Competing auto brands provide similar quality products in their respective segments. With minor differentiations product-wise, customer experience is what heavily influences buyer decisions.

As buyers evaluate each interaction during the purchase journey, managing the experience at all touchpoints also becomes critical. 

If you’re not present on multiple channels, you risk losing the chance to interact positively with customers. 

A competitor with better visibility can influence them instead, taking a bite out of your revenue and market share. 

How does leveraging multiple channels benefit you?

So, what happens when changing customer preferences pushes you to leverage multiple channels? A lot, as we found out. 

1. Amplified reach and visibility 

Digital natives like GenZ, millennials and GenX form a larger share of the consumer population today. 

47% of GenX, 57% of millennials and 63% of GenZ consumers are in the market for purchasing cars  – Kantar, 2023

Each generation has its channel preferences. Being present on multiple platforms lets you reach all three buyer groups. 

You expand your reach, improve visibility for the brand and products, and engage with larger audience groups, all of which increase conversion. 

2. Richer customer engagement and experience 

More channels = more options 

More channels present customers with options to choose their preferred medium. And if they find you on their platform, chances are they’ll gradually engage more with you. 

Using several channels also discourages you from overwhelming buyers with too much information on a single platform. 

Consider sending several emails with detailed text tutorials. Instead, these tutorials could be modified into multiple social media posts or videos.

Using more than one format makes consuming the content easier, which in turn reduces confusion and increases purchase confidence.

3. Improved flexibility 

A multi-channel strategy gives you the flexibility to reach your audience in several ways. 

Say you’re running an offer for your loyal customers. You consider social media as the best platform for the campaign. However, some of these customers may miss social updates or prefer email communication. 

You can choose to be more flexible and agile in your approach, using email (among other channels) to reach a larger part of the desired audience. 

4. Risk minimisation 

The more channels you use, the less risk you incur

Take the recent cases of social media features or ads being limited by national governments, based on political and security concerns. 

And when it comes to search engines dropping third-party cookies, marketers are gradually adopting alternatives. 

Amidst these crises, a wider channel presence lets you immediately adapt and stay visible to customers. If one channel fails, you can still continue running campaigns on others and steady the ROI.   

5. Insights-driven personalisation 

The more channels you deploy, the more data you have on diverse audiences. You can leverage this data to improve audience discovery and create dynamic interactions for each customer. 

75% of marketers say that personalised experiences drive sales and repeat business. Specific insights into customers give you an edge over competitors

6. Revenue maximisation 

You can seamlessly drive online to offline conversions with multiple channels. 

Say a customer visits your social page and clicks on the link in your bio. It leads to a landing page where they can book a test drive through Driftrock’s AI chat. 

Your dealership then initiates a callback and takes the conversation offline. 

The same goes for offline to online. 

Happy customers leave positive reviews online. Incoming leads see these reviews and are motivated to purchase from you. 

Overall, you maximise revenue from multiple channels

How to activate multiple channels for automotive marketing? 

Managing multiple channels, connecting the customer journey across these touch points and ensuring exceptional customer experience is a massive feat. 

Not having the right set-up to support this makes it more difficult. 

However, there are ways to mitigate the challenges and streamline the marketing process. 

1. Establishing a solid data foundation 


The shift to digital and using multiple channels pushes more data through your system. 

Plus, each channel may have its dashboard. So, there’s no single analytics dashboard. Referring to several reports increases the possibility of errors. 

Eventually, silos develop between data and tools. These silos interrupt insights flow with inaccurate and inconsistent data, misinforming your marketing strategy. 

How we can do better:

Managing and maintaining your data quality is critical for reliable insights

Unify your data in a single dashboard to bridge the analytics gap, track customer preferences, and personalise marketing, sales, and service interactions. 

When your data flows seamlessly, you speak the same language across platforms and maintain consistency. 

Moreover, you can back your decisions with accurate data to improve the ROI from all your channels. 

2. Personalising customer experience with first-party data


The auto industry is better off today than it was a few years ago. Yet, as marketers, we’re not doing enough to help buyers make decisions with a simplified journey. 

Only 52% of car shoppers were completely satisfied with their most recent purchase experience. The rest are still looking for better options. 

One of the key reasons behind this shortcoming is the over-reliance on one channel (e.g. the dealership) to get first-party data. We lose out on other touch points, not getting deeper insights into our buyers. 

Plus, third-party cookies (that helped us target buyer preferences and interests) are nearly out the door. 

With no valid information on the buyer, how can we offer them a unique experience? 

How we can do better:

In a cookieless future, first-party data is the only way to personalise content 

HubSpot, 2024

What’s better than renting out customer relationships using third parties? Owning them with first-party data. 

Collect data from customers themselves during your lead generation process. And use it to follow the customer from first touch to sale. 

It will also give you a more accurate profile of your customer segments. You can then go beyond broad demographics, interests and preferences to understand customers at a granular level. 

Better targeting improves personalisation and engagement, thus increasing ROI.

Another way to maximise customer experience is through Conversion API (CAPI).

CAPI tracks conversion signals from leads, forwarding the signals to ad platforms so you can run uninterrupted campaigns. As you learn more about buyers, you can optimise your campaign to personalise it better. 

CAPI lowers the risk associated with third-party cookies. And more importantly, it’s available across digital channels today including Meta, LinkedIn and Google. 

3. Streamlining the customer journey with automation 


The number 1 frustration for consumers is disconnected experiences. And these arise when we’ve not synced our tools and databases well enough. 

Consider this. A lead books a test drive through your web form. Their data enters your lead generation tool but flows into the CRM only weekly—your sales team doesn’t know about the lead just yet. 

Your customer service team uses a different tool that is synced with the lead management tool but not with the CRM. The team assumes the test drive is done and asks the lead for feedback on the test drive experience via email. 

To the buyer, this comes across as a serious lack of information and disregard for their time. 

The sales team finds out about the lead a week later and gets in touch. But it’s too late. The buyer is frustrated and has moved on to a competitor. 

How we can do better:

Automation enables a connected experience, which in turn increases purchase confidence and buyer satisfaction

Here’s how this scenario plays out with automation. 

Leads are automatically validated and synced with the CRM. Sales receives a quick update, contacts the lead, and sets up a test drive. 

The service team is also in the know, and they only contact the lead for feedback after the test drive. 

Automation lets you mitigate unfavourable situations and adapt to changes in customer preferences. You can also track their data across channels and interpret it correctly (without human error). 

Plus, it allows integration with diverse tools across channels—website, lead generation, social media, affiliate publishers, and more. 

4. Experimenting based on audience preferences


A marketer’s goal is to maximise the budget while minimising lost opportunities (arising out of being absent on key channels) and spreading resources too thin across multiple platforms. 

As a result, we get near-sighted and establish our presence only on channels where competitors are. It’s the safer way out. 

While safe is good, we may end up missing out on higher revenue-making channels. 

How we can do better:

‘Walk in the customer’s shoes’ to identify the best channels

Activate channels specific to customer adoption—where they’re present and how they use these channels. Also, research audience demographics to make data-driven decisions. 

For instance, it’s widely known, and therefore, assumed that GenZ prefers TikTok (it is indeed the largest age group on the platform). 

Now, if your primary audience is older (like baby boomers), you may dismiss TikTok. But research shows that baby boomers are increasing their usage of TikTok (a 57% growth since 2021). 

So, instead of dismissing the platform, you can now embrace it. 

Another way to figure out which channels are customer favourites is through experimentation and analytics. Use the unified dashboard to determine which channels work best, how customers use them and if these channels add clear value to your ROI. 

Keep refining the channel mix to improve conversion and optimise your budget

Related Article: 6 Must-try Lead Generation Channels for Auto Brands in 2024

How Driftrock can help

Leveraging multiple channels for customer acquisition, customer experience and ROI is not optional anymore; it's critical. But it can be a monumental challenge to run these channels simultaneously. 

Using Driftrock's lead capture library, you can activate multiple automotive publishers, social media and search channels easily. 

Our automotive marketing platform also provides an end-to-end, automated solution to drive vehicle sales by:

  • Collecting, validating and managing lead data
  • End to end tracking from lead generated to vehicle purchase 
  • Connecting insights from multiple channels into a single dashboard
  • Integrating with multiple tools
  • Implementing Conversions API integrations across multiple channels

Take on multi-channel marketing with confidence. Talk to our team of experts today.