5 reasons why automakers need a marketing system of record

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Virtually all automakers today have “tier 1” systems (an information system that is vital to the running of an organization) that support major areas of their business because they need to operate with precision and certainty. From Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), to Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), to Information Technology Service Management (ITSM), there is one thing they all share, which is to provide accurate details on how to run each part of the business efficiently. But where does marketing come into play?

Automakers need a marketing system of record that can help manage an ever-growing complex ecosystem of brands, dealers and markets through both agencies and in-house teams — to ensure consistent and personalized experiences are delivered at every touchpoint, as well as impact the bottom line. And it doesn’t stop there — a marketing system of record must evolve over time to integrate processes from other cross-functional teams like product management, customer experience, human resources, and information technology to coordinate activities elevating the end customer experience.

When done right, automakers can realize meaningful value measured by an increase in project capacity — GM Financial realized half-day savings with automated reports giving back project managers 45 hours of work on a typical project, decrease in time to market, increase in delivery rate, reduction in number of revisions and even greater compliance and adherence to corporate processes. Advanced Auto Parts gained real-time visibility in all marketing workstreams across 4,200 retail stores and 7 websites — thus increasing overall marketing efficiency and throughput. Below, we explore five specific ways automakers can benefit from having a marketing system of record:

Connecting all touchpoints

Automakers manage campaigns and content across a growing number of touchpoints from in-vehicle to dealers with increased complexity to connect all touchpoints consistently. Campaign and content delivery standardization is the first step to ensure consistency of messaging across touchpoints by bringing together strategic planning goals and resource needs with delivery needs and execution needs such as reviews and approvals status all in one integrated system.

Personalizing at scale

Once standardization is achieved, the next step is to personalize. Meeting customers where they are in their journey in real-time, regardless of the touchpoint requires connectivity of planned work to content development and marketing automation technology. It starts with connecting the delivery strategy such as customer journey requirements with content development workstreams so work completed can be pushed directly to content repositories and delivery systems such as CMS and marketing automation systems.

Creating internal and external alignment

Not everything always goes according to plan, and very often as the market dynamics change, teams need to replan and align to initiatives on the fly, coordinating changes across brand, agencies, dealers and markets. Typically, each touchpoint is managed by different internal and external teams requiring centralized visibility across all planned work to begin with, to be able to confidently change requirements and understand the consequences. Centralized visibility to all work, dependencies and impact of changes promotes the ability to nimbly react to market changes. This is where the efforts of standardizing campaign and content delivery pays off and pivots can be made much faster.

Increasing marketing efficiency and return on investment

Due to the prevalence of manual and disconnected processes, automakers struggle to track campaigns and understand the ROI of their marketing investments. Furthermore, attributing downstream sales to upstream digital interactions (e.g., vehicle configurator) is challenging when the buying journey comprises of multiple points of engagements across different touchpoints. To address this challenge, a uniform system of measurement is required across the board. It starts with ensuring that teams creating content tag assets appropriately to enable tracking, followed by being able to capture performance in-market and relay back to delivery teams for real-time optimization, as well as to planners to serve as an input into future campaigns.

Driving effective brand governance

Lastly, automakers must ensure their brand and messaging is consistently represented across owned touchpoints (in-vehicle, owner applications), partner touchpoints (dealer and aggregator sites) and paid channels (social, display) as well as across markets — ensuring strong governance between global creative and local variants that incorporate market specific requirements. Access to brand assets and standardized review and approval from top-to-bottom is paramount to driving consistency of brand and messaging. From having centralized brand asset development, governing how brand resources and turn-key toolkits are made available to the ecosystem through brand portals, to having formalized review and approval for localized variants, ad-hoc requests etc.

Marketers in automotive are in the throes of a transformation of their relationship with consumers that requires new ways of communicating, driving interactions, and delivering to the consumer demands. This transformation requires the breaking of orthodoxies, defining new processes and enabling marketers with tools that enable them to overcome challenges inherit to this transformation. The opportunity is now to take on these challenges.

We would like to thank Jake Wells for his contributions to the article.