Having been in partnership for 7 years, MINI approached Columbus to assist with their analytics and data strategy.
Our challenge, find a solution to the evergreen problem for the automotive industry: tying online consumer behaviour to vehicles sales data.
Automotive brands face a unique set of challenges. A user’s online experience is distinctly separate to what actually happens in a dealership. There has been no way for brands to correlate a user’s online research, with how that directly influenced the sale of a vehicle.
Utilising Google Marketing Platform (GMP) we could understand what users do onsite, which channel drove them to the site, when they downloaded a brochure, or requested a test drive. However, any analysis was purely restricted to online, where a lead is considered as good as a sale.
We activated our MET-A data framework. Through the discovery phase, we identified that MINI send their customers a post-purchase email. By appending parameters to links in these emails and some advanced configuration in Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, we identified consumers who had purchased a vehicle. Once we bring the consumer back on site, ID’s can be linked and we are able to understand the research each anonymised customer undertook prior to entering the dealership, as well as which vehicle was purchased.
Using Google Analytics 360, this rich data streamed into Google Big Query daily, allowing us to discover deeper insights. This new series of metrics enabled us to visualise the full consumer journey from beginning to end.
The biggest discovery was that of the 987 car buyers we gathered data from, only 177 (18%) submitted a test drive or brochure request before purchasing a vehicle. This was a significant revelation for MINI and the auto industry. Traditionally, performance media has been optimised towards these key leads onsite.
This then left us with the question, what does success online actually look like?
Being able to greater understand vehicle purchases gave us a new way of optimising media to best suit our audiences. Leveraging this data through Google Cloud, we utilised a series of machine learning techniques to implement our targeting strategy. We created a probability score in Google Analytics 360, predicting which users are likely to convert.
This allowed us to build audiences and targeting strategies based on a customer’s likelihood to purchase. We activated these audiences across display and search channels.
Running this machine learning model, we found that Brochure and Test Drive were low on the list. We found that a combination of factors such as the number of sessions, visits to the Lifestyle, finance and locate a dealer page, were all key indicators that someone was more likely to purchase a vehicle.
Simultaneously, to give MINI customers a tailored experience, we rebuilt all of MINI’s creative assets into a dynamic feed based solution. Leveraging Google Studio, we now can dynamically control the assets to suit the target audience.
The imagery, call to action and click URLs were all controlled by the user’s location. We mapped the locations of all MINI Dealerships in Australia back into our Dynamic Creative Strategy, allowing us to control messaging and provide highly relevant, location-based experiences.
This dynamic creative strategy saw a 22% increase in Click Through Rate instantaneously.
Once we understood the likelihood of a consumer purchasing a vehicle we are then able to use this probability and utilise Google Analytics 360 for retargeting. We can build audiences of customers with a high, medium or low probability to purchase. We can define strategies based on their stage in the purchase funnel.
3 months after this, we found that customers we predicted had a ‘high’ probability to purchase had purchased cars at a rate of 4.3 times that of other audiences. Seeing the results across real data meant we could accurately validate this model. This presented a huge opportunity for us to now embed these learnings and insights into future marketing strategies.
MINI is now clearly able to track online to offline conversions for the first time. We now see the online journeys of over 60% of MINI’s customers, prior to making their purchase decision.
Based on a consumer’s online engagement MINI, we can predict with 90% accuracy their likelihood to purchase a vehicle
We’ve been able to define new metrics and measures of success for activation and real-time optimisation.
- Over 60% of car buyer journeys linked from online through to vehicle purchase
- 22% increase in click-through rates through activation of dynamic creative strategy
- Ability to predict potential car buyers based on behaviour with up to 90% accuracy
- Proven results with a 4.3x increase in conversion rates against high probability audiences
- Learnings that have redefined how MINI measure success across digital channels
Our work with MINI was a market first. MINI’s new data led approach connects the dots between online behaviours and offline purchases, a real step change for the auto industry. Utilising the GMP and Google Cloud has meant we are now able to predict, with 90% accuracy, users with a high probability to buy a car. Through hero-ing data, we have been able to deliver a complete, end to end experience for MINI’s customers.