Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
There’s no getting around it: Tyres are the ultimate grudge purchase, says Dominic Byrne, chief digital officer (CDO) at tyre wholesaler and retailer, Tyres4U.
“Our audience needs us, but they don’t want to engage with us, or part with $600 or more for these black, boring, uneventful circles of rubber,” he admits.
But with the help of responsive mobile engagement, a multi-pronged marketing and communications strategy, personalised and educational content, and an online-based loyalty program, Byrne is hoping to transform the tyre purchase for customers while tackling the brand’s biggest challenge: Lifecycle management.
Tyres4U is a 30-year old Australian tyre importing business operating in both B2B and B2C. In recent years, the group has established a franchise-styled retail network under its Tyreright brand in a bid to help smaller, independent players compete against the bigger chains. The group has 70 physical stores and 130 affiliated tyre centres under its umbrella, and is looking to increase this to 200 branded stores over the next two years.
Byrne was brought in three years ago to drive the group’s customer-facing digital capabilities primarily for Tyreright. The first priority was an ecommerce portal, which launched in 2011. The group opted to build the site using Sitecore’s content management platform because of its personalisation engine and site customisability, he tells CMO.
When Tyreright’s ecommerce site launched, 7 per cent of traffic was mobile-based. Just a few months later, this was up to 17 per cent and today it’s 37 per cent. “I had in my head that we’d do a desktop site, do a lot of multivariate testing and 18 months later look at going mobile as that’s where things were heading,” Byrne says. “It blew my mind how quickly smartphones exploded and became an everyday, everywhere phenomena.”
Tyreright quickly built a dedicated mobile site and launched it in December 2012. Since then, Byrne has made mobile the first consideration and as well as continually improving design and features, launched a tablet-optimised site in April.
A big surprise was that consumers started purchasing via mobile devices immediately. As a result, the mobile site had to be responsive, and take consumers through the purchase journey and funnel quickly so it was easy to find the tyres and the store they wanted to have them fitted, Byrne says.
Mobile currently makes up 10 per cent of online sales. Byrne has anecdotal evidence from customers and employees that the mobile site is also driving in-store sales while providing useful insights into user buying habits.
Sales was clearly a driving force in Tyreright’s mobile push, but delivering relevant content through digital channels has also been a major part of the group’s wider marketing strategy.
“One of the things marketers need to do is find ways to communicate with the target audience in their downtime,” Byrne comments. “Content was part of our digital strategy from day one from a pure pull marketing perspective. But we had to do a targeted-based marketing strategy and the only way to do that effectively was through targeted SEO and SEO content.”
More recently, Tyreright has shifted marketing investment into video production for mobile and brought on a dedicated resource for video content. Byrne cites an increase in sales by focusing on video as an advertising medium. As well as producing content, Tyreright is looking to better utilise vendor and tyre manufacturer assets, as well as user-generated video.
Down the track, Byrne expects to provide drivers with opt-in push messages and syndicated content such as weather warnings, or notices about double demerit points.
Content marketing and mobile are also vital components in how Tyreright addresses the critical issue of customer lifecycle management. Unlike fast-moving consumer goods, the company’s average customer lifecycle is 3.2 years.
“It’s a long time between drinks and that figure also varies depending on the individual, how you drive your car, how regularly you check air pressure and the types of tyres you have,” Byrne explains. “We have to have relevant content going out to our target audience on a regular basis to try and remain front of mind so that lifetime value doesn’t disappear to zero after three years.
“What we’re trying to do is build a targeted customer lifecycle marketing and communications strategy that is predominantly mobile specific. We see a need to touch on a wide range of topics to capture people on our site – everything from how to change a tyre to changing wiper blades. If we can get them in the purchase journey somehow, we can hopefully become relevant for when they need tyres.”
As part of the longer-term customer game plan, Byrne is working to build an online loyalty program. “Most tyre retailers have a care-based program, but like all of our competitors, ours comes in the form of a printed book that you put in your glove box and forget about,” he says. “We’re going to digitise our total care solution into loyalty membership, so these details will sit in a portal.
“That will tie into another mobile strategy and CRM project to have store managers greeting someone as they drive into a service centre, using tablet devices so they can tick boxes to log details about that customer, such as if they have a baby seat or a child in the vehicle, if they’re driving a sports car, and how many kilometres are on the clock.
“Each driver will fall into a category of how much information we should be giving that person from the first year to the time they’re close to buying new tyres.”
Using Sitecore’s personalisation engine and an upgraded CRM system currently being rolled out, Tyreright will serve up targeted content digitally and in real time, Byrne continues. Given the potential customer base of consumers buying tyres is extensive, he has started collecting data on the types of people coming to its website and will test serving up content using seven main profile types.
The audience profiles will also be used to segment customers in the CRM as well as form the basis of the loyalty program.
“If you are looking at mud terrain tyres, we can assume you are probably a young male who likes to spend a lot of time driving in the dirt, so we could serve content related to that. And when you come back three days or six months later, we can continue serving you the right content straight away,” Byrne says.
Overall, Tyreright’s mission is to come up with ways, particularly online, that drive ongoing engagement. “We have a great opportunity with online to educate the market on the importance of tyres,” Byrne adds.
“If we can start to communicate and get in touch at the time when customers need to change tyres by making it clear how important it is for tyres to be replaced, that’s important. There is a lot of good content out there about the importance of tyres but no one has really figured out how to take it out to the market as good and useful chunks of information.
“We’ll feature that content on our website and blog, use it for our pull-based marketing and for SEO. But we also want to start delivering that content to the right people at the right time.”
This article originally appeared in CMO's June 2014 magazine edition. To subscribe to your complimentary copy of our print title or our weekly newsletter, subscribe here .
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