Getting On the Road With an Inbound Approach
With the South African economy verging on recession and the currency under pressure in early 2016 Suzuki South Africa’s marketing department realized that they need to get creative with their marketing budget, it needed to turn this challenge into an opportunity. We had to be sure we were using our budget cleverly to maximize our returns’, explains Charl Grobler, national marketing and product planning manager at Suzuki South Africa.
“We said, let’s take the time to expand our horizons in terms of how we do things in the digital space. We're a small brand, and there are much bigger players in the marketplace, but we knew that the vast majority of our potential customers were doing internet research before they walked into a dealership to buy a car.”
Suzuki South Africa had a longstanding relationship with the Penquin ad agency, which had recently launched Spitfire Inbound to focus purely on inbound marketing. Together, they introduced Charl to the inbound methodology and the HubSpot software.
“Charl really laid down the challenge: he told us that the brand’s media strategy had to change radically. So we pulled up a dashboard on one of our other clients who was using the HubSpot software. We showed him how they could track every metric and how their leads had increased, and that really piqued his interest,” says Darren Leishman, managing director at Spitfire Inbound.
Veronica Wainstein, managing director at Penquin, was also convinced that this was the way forward for Suzuki South Africa.
“As things stood, we didn’t have a clear view on the visitor’s journey. We were using Google Analytics and data from Suzuki’s social media pages, but it wasn’t enough. If we were going to spend money and scale, we needed to know what people were doing, what they were engaging with and how we could get them to convert.”
The decision was made, and Suzuki South Africa signed up with HubSpot in 2016.
Gaining Traction With Clever Content
Suzuki South Africa’s main problem was that its brand wasn’t top of mind for potential customers. If people were looking for a car that was fuel efficient or compact, for example, they wouldn’t automatically think of Suzuki.
“I saw how the HubSpot software would allow us to introduce prospects to Suzuki in a really effective way. We could give them content relevant to their interests, but without the hard sell. Then we could nurture them through the funnel and ultimately boost our sales figures,” says Charl.
First, the company defined its personas – it has nine different personas – and began to create content to target people at the start of their buyer’s journey.
“The aim was to introduce them to who we are and what we do. We produced articles, infographics, blog posts and videos, covering topics like how to save fuel when driving an automatic, how to pack a small car – that was our starting point. We also started to produce topical pieces. For example, when we were having very heavy rains, we created a video about how to drive in those conditions. That got us a lot of traction.”
The agencies put this content on Landing Pages and promoted it through social media with the Social Inbox. Visitors are encouraged to interact through Calls-to-Action and Forms, and nurtured through the funnel with highly specific Workflows. Once leads are qualified, Suzuki South Africa sends their details onto its dealerships.
“The difference with the HubSpot software is that we’re not shooting in the dark anymore. With the Marketing Analytics Dashboard, we can see exactly how effective we are being and what we need to tweak. Then when we get sales figures back from our dealers, we can see that someone who first visited us several months ago are now buying a Suzuki. That information is really valuable. We can relate it back to our dealerships and say look, what we are doing is working and this is why.”
Revving Up Results
Using the inbound approach has helped Suzuki South Africa to make considerable inroads in the online marketplace. Website traffic has increased by a whopping 12.5X, from 2,000 visitors per month to 25,000. These visitors are also staying longer and consuming more content – the bounce rate has decreased from 70.93% to 49.71%.
“Most importantly, our market share has increased from 1.53% to 2.17%. Year on year, our sales are up by 21.3%; that’s significant when the overall car market is down by 2.3%.”
Suzuki South Africa’s increased ability to track what’s working and what isn’t means that is now much more confident about its online activities. The entire company – from the marketing team to individual dealers – is on board with the HubSpot philosophy, explains Charl.
“When commissioned a survey in 2015, we found that only 50% of the leads we generated were contacted at all. That meant that a lot of our work was going down the tubes; we converted a visitor to a lead and the process stopped. The HubSpot software allows us to be much more in charge of that.”
Looking ahead, Suzuki South Africa wants to continue to gain brand recognition and to build people’s trust in its vehicles.
“Last year, we sold 6,000 cars, and our midterm goal is to reach 10,000 units and keep going from there. We’re already well on our way. Previously, we hovered in the ninth position in the South African marketplace, but in the last three months we’ve risen to number eight. With the help of the HubSpot software, we’re confident that we can hold that position and in the future, make even more gains.”