Using data to transform attitudes and evolve experiences.
How BMW Group transformed the online automotive experience for customers, dealers, and employees
A digital platform
to represent BMW Group’s number one marketing and sales channel
- Use customer data to deliver personalized and relevant digital experiences that would drive higher levels of online conversion.
- Create an online marketing and sales platform that would unite teams and markets across the globe.
- Adopt a common way of working across the entire business, sharing success and constantly optimizing its data-driven approach.
- Significant increase in online lead generation and requests (test drives, quotes, offers, etc.), due to effective audience segmentations and campaign automation.
- Online prospects and customers enjoy the same personalized, human experience during their digital customer journey as they would on the showroom floor.
- Working with Adobe Consulting and Adobe Success Management, BMW Group can scale and optimize its data-driven results across more markets to generate online business.
Putting the customer back in the driver's seat.
Making potential customers feel valued on the showroom floor is BMW Group’s forte, but expanding this premium experience to span the digital customer journey is tricky to master. Multiple touchpoints, devices, and locations make painting a clear and accurate picture of an individual automotive customer a difficult undertaking.
In a bold step to transform the traditional showroom shopping adventure into an engaging online journey, BMW Group knew it needed to pivot towards a long-term, sustainable digital strategy built on high-quality, reliable customer insight and intelligence.
To achieve this – and also to adopt a data-driven approach that would resonate across the entire business – BMW Group is using Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target (part of Adobe Experience Cloud) to deliver authentic and relevant online experiences across its entire brand portfolio, increasing retail leads and conversion rates.”
“During this project with the BMW Group, we really felt that they make every customer interaction count, empowering their teams across the world to constantly test, learn, and optimize using data analytics.”
Customer Success Manager, Adobe
Part of a pilot initiative in its home country of Germany, BMW Group is already rolling out its new data-driven approach to multiple markets across the world and has established a dedicated cross-functional ‘Business Management’ function tasked with helping local teams’ subsidiaries perfect their user journeys, optimize digital spend, and make the most of the analytics tools available to them.
The increased focus on web and commerce analytics is based on three key building blocks, which enable market and team activity across BMW Group’s entire global presence:
- A build-measure-learn loop: A common methodology used across all web and digital commerce products.
- A state-of-the-art tool stack: All teams can push reports and access self-service dashboards on a centralized platfom – providing data and insights from web users (e.g. onsite questionnaires); user satisfaction (e.g. NPS survey); web behavior (e.g., web tracking, journey analyses); and purchase behavior (e.g. revenue analysis).
- A collaborative approach to data generation and sharing: Establishing a ‘data’ mindset, enabling data exchanges across BMW Group’s central HQ and all its markets.
“During this project with the BMW Group, we really felt that they make every customer interaction count, empowering their teams across the world to constantly test, learn, and optimize using data analytics," says Armin Flossman, Customer Success Manager at Adobe.
Mapping the customer journey
To better understand its customer needs and wants, BMW Group separated the customer journey into three strategic triggers, which are then tracked and targeted using Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target.
The first, called the "awareness phase", is a prospect’s first engagement with BMW Group, whether via digital advertising (display, social media) or through more evocative means, such as the sound of an 8 Series zooming past as you walk.
The next stage is perhaps the most important, the "research phase". With more than 90% of BMW Group’s buyers engaging with its web presence at some stage, it knew its website formed a critical phase of the customer journey.
The third and final stage is the "purchase phase". Depending on your location, this entire journey can be carried out from the comfort of your sofa. Watch a BMW i8 glide past your front window, jump onto the BMW Group website to find out more, make the purchase, and get the car delivered to your front door.
But, because BMW Group is a global brand offering multiple services and products, there are dozens of different customer journeys taking place simultaneously. The sheer amount of insight available to collect would make even the most data-literate marketer’s head spin.
A commerce offering clicking into digital gear
Much like the efficiency of a vehicle production line, BMW Group is using Adobe Analytics to analyze user behavior across its entire commerce and web presence, neatly separating user behavior into distinct customer segments and tailoring its communications and content accordingly using Adobe Target.
BMW Group now has the ability to track exactly where people are arriving on its website from, whether through a specific product campaign or more general digital advertising. This way, the company can tailor its entire online experience to suit a customer’s specific need, such as test drive offers or, in the near future, personalized reminders when a customer’s lease is due to expire.
Another key area that analytics helped to sharpen was strengthening BMW Group’s relationships with its dealerships. For example, following in-depth analysis, BMW Group discovered that its automotive dealers were struggling with handling large volumes of offer and purchase requests on one of its online sales platforms.
By introducing more sophisticated filtering, additional on-page information and new navigation options, BMW Group was able to save dealers vital processing time.
A data-led approach that fuels an entire organization
The flexibility and open source nature of Adobe Analytics also means multiple BMW Group brands – including MINI and BMW Motorrad – are working from the same centralized hub.
Teams can build their own principles on top of Adobe’s tech (such as customized segments and scoring models) and share success stories and best practices, ensuring each team is delivering a consistent, cross-brand experience.
For example, BMW Group’s marketing team built a bespoke scoring model and used Adobe Target to deliver personalized offers to users, such as test-drive offers if they’d been browsing a particular vehicle’s landing page, resulting in more completed requests (e.g., test drives, quotes, offers, brochures, saved configurations).
Shifting data perceptions across a global brand
The success of these initiatives means the thirst for more data-driven campaigns and experiences has democratized and spread across the entire organization.
“The perception and understanding of how data is used at BMW Group has increased significantly since working with Adobe. It means we can now map all campaigns and decisions to tangible outcomes and business success, rather than relying solely on gut feel.”
Dr. Uwe Steinlein
Head of Web and Commerce Analytics, BMW Group
With best practice and success stories commonplace, even teams without any analytics expertise now possess the necessary tools and know-how to interrogate their customer data and use that insight to optimize campaigns, budgets, and user experience.
“The perception of data and its value at BMW Group has increased significantly since working with Adobe,” said Dr. Uwe Steinlein. “It means we can now map all campaigns and decisions to tangible outcomes and business success, rather than relying solely on gut feel."
A marathon, not a sprint
Although the traditional "see it, buy it" vehicle-buying experience is unlikely to disappear entirely, the challenges of the current climate mean many dealerships have experienced minimal footfall.
It’s now more important than ever for automotive brands to focus on fostering long-term relationships (with customers and dealerships alike), delivering premium experiences that are informed by quality customer intelligence.
The automotive brands who thrive in the coming years will be those who have built their digital strategy around a long-term, sustainable approach to customer data, meaning they can be there for their customers whenever and wherever they’re needed most.
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