LUXURY AUTOMOTIVE MARKETING CASE STUDY

The Client

Reeves Import Motorcars was a family of Tampa auto dealerships offering premier luxury brands like Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Maserati and Porsche. For 50 years, the Reeves brand name was renowned for a commitment to its community, as well as for providing high-end customer experiences via exceptional customer service, exclusive events and state-of-the-art facilities. Specializing in luxury automotive marketing, Lincoln Digital Group served as its Agency of Record for six years. 

The Challenge

The principal challenges faced on Day One were a lack of sales effectiveness, and declining market share for a number of its key brands. 

This means we first needed to create more opportunities amongst nearby, active shoppers that had an affinity for Reeves’ brands. 

We also needed to help grow opportunities and re-capture share in the broader competitive set from an extremely strong competitor that was in the midst of record-setting growth. 

Put simply, we needed to deliver a luxury automotive marketing plan that solved for insufficient brand consideration. Stiff challenges for any car dealership ad agency, to say the least. 

The Initial Strategy: Winning in-market shoppers 

Our primary strategy involved carefully targeting in-market shoppers at the lowest level of the funnel, particularly within 15 miles of Reeves’ campus, where data indicated the most likely buyers lived and worked. 

We successfully executed the strategy using a range of proven paid digital media tactics – such as SEO, brand and category paid search, video re-targeting and dynamic re-targeting. These tactics significantly increased purchase likelihood and grew Reeves’ leads to all-time highs over consecutive years.

Leads grew by 142% annually, and both sales effectiveness and market share rose concurrently for numerous brands. 

By the end of 2018, all indications were that the lowest part of the funnel had been significantly bolstered. While this was welcome news, it also meant that simply continuing with the same strategy for yet another year was likely to bring diminishing returns. 

It was time for a strategic update. 

The Subsequent Strategy: Brand-building

In January, 2019, we debuted a new strategy for Reeves designed to reach an entirely new audience: shoppers in the highest part of the funnel, with a specific focus on growing reach in and around South Tampa. 

To execute it, we architected a media mix heavy in broadcast and streaming television. This required re-allocating budget away from display and social media advertising while maintaining a reduced-yet-competitive low-funnel presence. And it required eye-catching creative services.

In addition to a daily news-centric schedule, we worked with local broadcast stations to customize high-impact sponsorships on recurring weekday segments (eg. sports and weather). Both the spot schedule and sponsorships were simulcast on streaming television, and placed ads on stations’ websites specifically targeted to South Tampa ZIP codes. Video Geo-fencing in South Tampa was also deployed. 

We furthered this strategy by securing exclusive terms to place Reeves as the title sponsor of a streaming-only news app launched by Tampa’s ABC affiliate. Everytime a streaming viewer opened the app, or watched for more than eight minutes at a time, they would see Reeves. 

Seeing success with this strategy throughout 2019, we attached Reeves to new programming types at the beginning of 2020. This began with the NFL playoffs, extended into a direct linear schedule with the Tampa Bay Lightning in February and March, and live streaming sports impressions in local NFL, NHL and MLB match-ups throughout the year. Those streaming sports impressions were heavily weighed toward South Tampa ZIPs.

Later in 2020, we accelerated the streaming TV focus to align with shifting consumer viewing habits. Notably, we layered on targeting for high-income households and local luxury automotive intenders on streaming platforms, and measured it with an IP-based pixel tracking new visitors to Reeves’ websites.

With the NFL season, Stanley Cup Finals and World Series underway, we leveraged our relationships to buy guaranteed in-game linear spots. We married them with streaming TV and pure OTT visibility in the same games by managing and weighting CPMs to practically guarantee placement in live Tampa sporting events – a novel approach at the time.

No one in the market was doing anything like it, and the results bore that out. Pure reach grew 80%, and lead opportunities grew 21%. Both 2019 and 2020 were record volume sales year for Reeves.

But there was still one cherry to place on top. 

The “Big Game” Strategy: Kicking-Off 2021 

Timing is everything. And Q1 2021 presented a unique opportunity to place the cherry on top of this high-funnel strategy: deep integration with the Big Game, the marquee media event of the year. Better yet, this year’s game was being played at a stadium just miles away from Reeves’ campus. 

Moreover, 2021 was a momentous occasion for Reeves itself: its 50th birthday. What better way to kick-off a half-century than by dominating Big Game coverage?

To drive maximum growth, we partnered with local CBS affiliate WTSP to develop a custom multi-week promotion. An integrated linear, streaming video and social media campaign placed Reeves at the center of the coverage leading up to, and through, the Big Game. Here, once more, the digital impressions were weighted toward South Tampa residents. And for the week after, a custom on-air contest was promoted daily, and featured more than five minutes of uninterrupted native content 

As the year went on, our luxury automotive marketing approach deepened reach and connection with this same high-funnel, “marquee event” audience. We did this by negotiating and placing custom linear and streaming sponsorships around March Madness, The Final Four, and The Masters – just to name a few. 

Never satisfied, category-exclusive streaming TV sponsorships of the Stanley Cup Finals and Olympics were placed to further this strategy – and their digital, such as video and banners, were targeted exclusively to the geographic battleground of South Tampa. 

What’s followed since this momentous kick-off to 2021 was seven straight months of record-setting sales volume. 

By Q4, leads had grown 51% compared to the prior year. New website users grew 64%. And four luxury brands grew total visits, SEO visits and leads by more than 20% year-over-year, leading to seven straight months of record-setting sales volume. 

 

Outcomes & Results

As you can see from the visual below, our efforts helped to grow the audience, acquire new users, generate more leads, and—ultimately—achieve greater sales — often securing year-over-year highs and company sales records.

Were the car dealership marketing strategies we deployed over six years effective? You be the judge.

Summary of luxury automotive marketing outcomes: 

  • 42% lead growth vs. 2019 for a BMW dealership  
  • 37% lead growth vs. 2019 for a Land Rover dealership  
  • 32% lead growth vs. 2019 for a Porsche dealership  
  • 30% lead growth from organic traffic visitors (SEO) vs. 2019
  • 51% lead growth for the group’s website  
  • Seven consecutive months of all-time record high sales volume in 2021

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