With the recent diverse increase in the use of digital technologies, marketers should focus on ways to increase their digital presence. BMWi can make use of popular social media sites to generate online interest among potential consumers as well as opinion leaders. According to Gallear et al., (2008) today consumers search the internet for almost everything, whether a high involvement product or low involvement product. However, for any product involving high risk (financial or social) the consumers greatly rely on the opinion of professionals and knowledgeable experts. For the success of digital marketing, it is important to use online channels which expose the brand to the identified target market.
BMWi already has its own separate portal for its car and should find ways to direct consumers to their portals. The digital marketing strategy of the company is also in line with its corporate social responsibility initiatives, since the company is promoting an eco-friendly product through an eco-friendly medium. The company can customise the portal for better use by its consumers, similar to its strategy in case of MINI which allowed the car enthusiast and drivers to network. Digital marketing allows the companies to personify and personalise their brand experience according to customer’s requirements (Haynes, 2001). The company can provide incentives to the online drivers, car enthusiast, bloggers for tweeting and promoting the product on twitter and Facebook. If utilised effectively social media can have several benefits for the companies in terms of marketing (Faust and Householder, 2009).
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One method to generate online interest is its online racing game and the giving away of real prizes, which was also one of the methods that BMW used before launching its car in South Africa. The brand can start a side by side go green initiative (similar to general electric) which would help the brand gain support form environment conscious customers and would add value for the customers (Zesty, 2012). At present, the company has millions of Facebook fans which can use to amplify its marketing message (Schmuck, 2012).
To improve its current digital marketing, a suggested strategy is the development of mobile applications for potential customers. The company can develop Apple and Android applications since the sale of smart phones has greatly increased in the last few years. The customers use such technology gadgets to access information on the internet and thus it can be easily used to target all potential market segments easily. Partnering with websites that provide sports and car reviews would also help the company leverage its fame.
Even though the ultimate use of the campaign would be generating sales, the company should not make use of unnecessary product, but rather focus on giving a brand insight to the potential customers. The company can track and measure performance of its digital marketing campaign by measuring clicks, likes, views, tweets, shares etc. The company can give a statistical representation to the amount of time spent on website, log in frequency and clicks. Designing online games and online applications would help in engaging the consumers with the brand (Maclaran and Catterall, 2002). This would not just expose the brand and product but would also help to nurture relationships with existing consumers.
For the purchase of high involvement products such as a car, the opinion leaders can play a very important role. The opinion leaders help materialise the power of word of mouth communications by passing on information and their opinion about a product. BMWi marketers can use pre-launch tests for advertisements as well as the pre-tests for the product to generate an opinion. The opinion leaders can be the obvious ones such as car reviewers, bloggers, enthusiasts and drivers. The company should also include unobvious opinion leaders such as car dealers, mechanics, environmental awareness promoters etc. According Hawkins, Best and Coney, (1998) consumers rely more on opinion leaders when they need to buy high risk products. A car is a high involvement product, expensive as well as a symbol of status for many. Thus it includes financial risks and social risk for the buyers. The potential consumers, in order to minimise the perceived risk, would rely on the information from knowledgeable personnel such as drivers and enthusiasts. The first step in generating online interest would be the identification of opinion leaders and sampling them to find a suitable presentation in all targeted segments.
The identification of the opinion leaders, which are not obvious but powerful, can be a difficult task for the company. One effective strategy as suggested by markers for identifying opinion leaders is seeding the offering in a group of people (this can be based on age or geographic sampling and letting it diffuse. BMWi can use the identified age segment of 45-55 years as well as the existing users of the BMW cars. The company can then find early adopters and use information from them to locate opinion leaders (Frost, 2004). According to research by Stokburger-Sauer and Hoyer (2009) opinion leaders generally have high involvement in their respective product categories. Exposing the brand to them and initiating a trial can be enough to generate an opinion. The company, after choosing the opinion leaders, can send them cars for test driving or invite them to the showrooms to give their opinions. The company should focus on gaining a favourable response from the opinion leaders. Chrysler in one of its marketing strategies offered the car for testing to the opinion leaders for a weekend (Hawkins, Best and Coney, 1998). The company can also record positive testimonials from people that the target market can relate to and put them on its online portals. To engage the opinion leaders the company already has an application available on iOS and Android called the Ultimate Drive through which the drivers and car enthusiast share their tips, rate roads and favourite drives (Smith, 2011).
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