Subaru boosts digital marketing
Editor’s note: The earlier online version of this story misspelled Dean Evans’ first name in the main text.
Dean Evans has spent nearly half his life working in the auto business and more than half that time in digital marketing. He also has worked at Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin North America, as well as sma timberland boots for men ller digital companies and start ups. At one time, he managed an auto dealership in San Francisco.
At Subaru, which has had rapid sales growth over the past several years, Evans’ challenge has been to incorporate more digital tools into the brand’s marketing mix without rewriting its underlying strategy, which targets what it calls “experience seekers.”
“This is the flag we march to,” Evans told Automotive News.
Subaru figures 60 million people fit its definition of experience seekers, an ample pool of potential buyers.
“We can sell more to them because rather than a new type of demographic, it is more of the same demographic,” Evans says. “We are better at reaching more people who align themselves to us.”
With a digital guru leading its marketing, Subaru spends 25 percent of its marketing budget on the Internet and social media, up from 15 percent two years ago, and it’s paying off. In the past two years, Internet leads have quadrupled and the closing ratio, the percentage of leads that result in sales, has jumped 50 percent.
Evans spoke with Staff Reporter Diana T. Kurylko.
A: I was most surprised in how well run the company is, how much brand advocacy there is in this organization and the dedication. The other big thing was how much the retail organization and the manufacturer truly have a hand in hand partnership.
But you stepped up the digital side?
Obviously when I first got here, digital was front and center. That was my background. I looked at that part of the business and what things they are doing right and wrong. They were doing timberland boots for men a lot of things right to make sure the brand is being managed. I came to a brand that knew what it was, thanks to the many people before me. Getting my head wrapped around that and what it stood for was my target.
One of my first reactions after understanding how it worked is to get us more media spend from timberland boots for men [parent company] Fuji Heavy Industries and to get us on TV. You can do a lot of things on Google, but you have to stimulate them. The most efficient channel is still TV, even when you read the metrics.
How much of your marketing spend goes to TV?
It is probably up into the 50 percent range and digital is 25 percent. Digital was more like 15 before.
Where did you cut your spending?
Print because the pie is only so big. Fuji Heavy Industries said we believe in what the marketing department is doing. The pie got a little bigger with TV up, digital up. Print went down and events stayed flat.
What is an “experience seeker,” the buyer Subaru targets in its marketing?
While most people live to collect possessions, experience seekers live to collect memories. They are not chasing materials, they are chasing life experiences and they do stuff.
How are you going mainstream without losing loyalists?
We have moved our media buy. We spend more on television. We are out there more and getting more exposure to the experience seeker. Love has always been our core. Our storytelling changed. When I got here you had to make them laugh or cry. I said let’s bring more humor to the emotion.
How much do you spend on marketing compared with other automakers?
Today, when you look at the volume, we are the 10th largest brand. When you look at marketing spend, we are 22nd. I like to remind my boss and Fuji Heavy Industries that what we have is one of the most efficient departments in the automotive space.
What brand values do you market?
We asked customers what they think about us and have four frequent responses. First, we build vehicles that last a long time. Second, those vehicles are ready for adventure like the Outback and the Forester. Third, we have safe vehicles. Fourth is versatility. Those are the four brand attributes. When you bring them together, you get Love.
And “Love” is still the tag line for Subaru marketing. What changes did you make in the campaign?
A few things. We fine tuned our creative. We like and claim to be an emotional brand. Our T timberland boots for men V creative has continued to get more emotional. Secondly, we have refined our lead generation capabilities. Converting Web site visitors to leads, the ratio is improving.