The Road to a Zero Friction Future in Automotive

Three ways to gain an edge

Technology has been a game-changer for today’s customer experience. Yet the people who are skipping lines and ordering ahead on mobile, selecting furniture using augmented reality and applying for a mortgage with a few taps are the same people spending nine hours researching a vehicle purchase. Vehicle shopping can be overwhelming, and the frustration is only magnified when auto customers contrast their experience in other categories.

The good news is that customer pain points tend to make for the greatest marketing breakthroughs. That’s why we created this report with Boston Consulting Group and Facebook IQ on 50 friction points in the automotive customer experience, or as I like to think of it, 50 opportunities to gain an edge. As expectations rise, here are three ways auto brands can remove friction to sell more cars and gain loyalty.

1. Get discovered 

An early friction point is a lack of awareness that a brand or model exists or has relaunched. Nearly three quarters (73%) of U.S. car buyers have just one to two car brands in mind when they actively start researching, according to a study by Accenture.

So, what can you do if you’re not one of those brands? You can spark consideration on platforms like Facebook where discovery is core to the experience. In fact, 77% of U.S. auto consumers say social media posts would make them consider buying an auto brand they hadn’t considered before, according to the Accenture study.

A brand that’s doing this well is Mercedes-Benz. The brand  helped younger prospects discover the new A-Class by using Facebook and Instagram video ads as a complement to their TV ads. The mobile-first video ads drove 87% incremental reach to TV and were 1.5x more efficient, driving down Mercedes-Benz’s total cost while introducing new buyers to the brand.

2. Make shopping seamless

It’s no surprise that 80% of U.S. auto consumers say it’s important for buying a car to be as easy and convenient as possible, per Accenture. Yet complaints include too many research sources, information that is scattered, not detailed or relevant enough, and not optimized for mobile.

Shopping can become seamless if you anticipate needs and bring answers to shoppers rather than forcing them to hunt around. Doing so can mean the difference in a vehicle rising to the top of the consideration set.

In Italy, Renault used Instagram Stories and Messenger to spark discovery and then answered questions in the moment through a chat experience. This combination reduced friction by simplifying the shopping process, resulting in three vehicles sold within 24 hours and all 100 available vehicles sold within 30 days directly through Messenger.

With more helpful content within vehicle ad experiences, the possibilities are limitless to grow shoppers’ confidence and shorten the path to sale. We’re even getting to the point where an augmented reality (AR) car shopping experience isn’t a far-fetched idea. Retailers use AR to “try on” sunglasses, clothes and make-up. Imagine using AR to give a customer greater confidence that your full-size SUV will fit in their garage.

3. Personalize ownership to grow loyalty

Almost all (86%) of auto consumers say they would like some type of engagement with their car brand after their purchase, according to the Accenture study.  But the reality is that shoppers complain of minimal, non-personalized engagement in their ownership experience today.

One way to enhance the owner experience with personalization is by reaching out with a timely reminder for service. It feels custom to the person’s vehicle and is an effective way to increase service revenue.

TurnKey Marketing partnered with dealerships to use their CRM systems to retarget owners on Facebook who were approaching service milestones. They tracked the number of closed repair orders that happened as a result of people seeing Facebook ads and determined that they closed more than 1,800 service orders and achieved a 2-3x return on ad spend.

We understand vehicle shopping is inherently more complex than tapping “shop now” on a piece of clothing. But by removing as much friction as possible, your customers can begin to discover, purchase and own vehicles on their own terms. We invite you to turn to Facebook for insights and solutions to help guide you on this journey to a zero friction future.

Kim Stonehouse is Head of Automotive for Facebook, where she leads a national team helping auto marketers and dealers transform brands, grow sales and drive loyalty in a mobile-first world.