Why Carbar goes all in on social marketing

The car subscription business has built its brand awareness and customer base almost entirely through social and digital channels and there’s a reason why

Carbar, by its own admission, is a brand with a complex proposition.

The car subscription company has successfully grown its audience and brand awareness almost exclusively through digital channels, with significant growth throughout 2020 and into 2021.

“We have a complicated story to tell, and to tell it we needed to nail our proposition, build a category, establish a new audience and educate them on our service,” Carbar chief marketing officer, Kieron Wogan, told CMO.

“When I started with Carbar, the business was trying to do lots of things but wasn't really clear on what was working and why. We did our marketing research, identified audiences and rather than do lots of things mediocre, we agreed to focus on a few channels and do them well."

Backed by IAG, Carbar has developed a social-first approach, which has given the startup valuable tools in its marketing kit. “We identified social as the key channel to grab attention, begin building the brand and warm leads. It would allow us to challenge category norms, do things differently while testing and refining our messaging to quickly learn what’s working and what’s not,” Wogan said.

“To do this well, we needed fit-for-channel creative and specialists that knew the platforms so we can bring the right media thinking with best practice creative. We partnered with Connecting Plots and grew our subscriber base by over 900 per cent that year."
 
Wogan explained that, for Carbar, social allows it to reach its target audience efficiently. The organisation has added artificial intelligence (AI) improvements yet has found broad targeting is more efficient than narrow targeting. “This means we can reach more people for less,” he noted. 

But it’s not all about reach. “AI also allows us to focus on engagement and craft various sets of creative with multiple objectives to quickly learn what message resonates with each audience, adapt and iterate based on learnings.”
 
To effectively measure social strategies, the brand has been investing heavily in its data and tech capabilities. “We review performance on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis focusing on interest, demand, costs to acquire and lifetime value,” Wogan said.
 
By focusing on a few channels, Carbar's marketing team can turn campaigns on and off or pulse spend to see the impact across leads and sales.

“We use social to introduce and influence so we look at a variety of different metrics, some of the key ones being our reach efficiency through CPMs, cost of driving traffic to the website and cost of lead conversion,” Wogan continued.

To hone its proposition, Carbar has done a lot of customer research from qualitative interviews to internal and external surveys about what appeals and what are the pain points for its customer base. Two key desires continue to surface in groups favouring car subscription: A desire for flexible living and for financial stability.

“Through our surveying and social testing, we’ve found that messages leading with flexibility [no commitment], convenience [all-inclusive costs] and simplicity [simple weekly payment] resonate best with prospects,” Wogan explained.

Developing creative messaging

Carbar has three key pillars that form part of its creative brief each month. “We try to survey our customer and lead base every quarter on various areas of the business. These insights are shared with our team and partners and included in briefs,” Wogan explained.

“We review the top performing creatives, build variations and add new messaging in the mix. Every month, every campaign we plan to beat our best with a new, improved set of creative. We often find creative fatigue or decay is slower than we think. For example, one of our creatives has been in our top performing campaign for almost a year.”
 
The next emphasis is test and learn across all channels and gleaning a variety of insights from all activity.

"Obviously, each channel has its role to play and some complement each other. We have and currently use creative learnings from social across other channels. We’ve used it in search with some success and align messaging in our lead nurture and CRM programs,” Wogan said.

Carbar is very clear about wanting to appeal to a certain segment of customers - those who want to simplify car ownership, have flexibility and certainty around costs.

“We will continue to drive and amplify our digital and customer first strategies and apply the learnings we make along the journey to efficiently scale our business over the next few years,” Wogan added.

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