Since the growth of the World Wide Web, marketing has changed drastically. How well people knew your brand used to depend a whole lot on how chummy marketers were with the media. While that does still play a role in marketing and PR today, it’s by no means the only way to get your brand out to the public.

The auto industry can take cues from fast food chains, who have done a great job over last few years using the internet to create viral marketing campaigns that encourage online users to share their brands. One of my favorite examples of this is Burger King’s subservient chicken ad, which was launched online in 2004. The campaign was a big success with over 14 million unique visitors to the site and a double-digit increase in sales each week of the campaign.

So what can auto marketers take away from this? And what other methods are being touted out there to increase ROI to consumers?

Encourage social sharing

In a white paper published in June of last year by Unruly, a video technology company, three key statistics were reported:

  • The auto industry makes up just one-fifth of overall social media advertising.
  • Few auto brands are actually engaging in video sharing.
  • Auto marketers are using traditional methods to develop video campaigns (i.e. they’re event driven).
  • So what does this mean? It means auto marketers are overlooking a key medium to reach consumers: viral video sharing. Video marketing is currently being dominated by only a few big names in the auto industry and they’re using it in very conventional ways.

    Encourage Loyalty

    Direct mail sent to a targeted list of consumers can be a powerful mechanisn to gain response to advertising campaigns. The print industry has long been developing options that incorporate 3D design and technology into promotional materials.

    Relationship Marketing Strategist Mark Morin recently touted the advantages of direct mail in his presentation at FFWD Adweek in Toronto.  Morin shared statistics from the Direct Marketing Association’s recent benchmark study which reported high response rates from direct mail campaigns (1.20% direct mail vs. .03% email).

    In a recent case study from Structural Graphics, Hyundai sought to reward current customers with a special series of direct mail promotions. The mailers featured interactive pop-up designs with testimonials from real Hyundai owners. The pieces directed customers to a website where they could access special deals and visit Hyundai social networking sites on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Hyundai won advertising and marketing awards for their campaign as well as built the loyalty of their current customer base.

    Innovation and viral marketing go hand-in-hand. Auto industry marketers have great opportunity to reach their consumers and build loyalty with high response direct mail and social marketing platforms. Auto industry marketers should heed the advice of Lynn Power of ArnoldNYC:

    “Advertisers need to break through not by pushing yet another ad, but by giving people something they actually would want to watch, interact with and share. That often involves approaching advertising differently, taking risks and not doing things that are proven to work. Best practices are, by definition, the antithesis of innovation.”

    Read more:

    “New Unruly Report See Huge Growth Opportunities For Automotive Marketers in Social Video Advertising”