Make Customers A Part Of The Dialogue


Anja Petrovski, Marketing Director at Volkswagen Middle East speaks to Ravi Raman, Publisher of Martechvibe about how data impacts and influences all marketing decisions from monitoring the performance of media channels, messaging and creative plans, and the quality of leads.

How has consumer behaviour changed over the last year in the auto industry?

There is no doubt that, in the past year, there have been drastic changes in consumer behaviour and shopping habits. The automotive industry, in particular, witnessed severe effects during the pandemic, with people staying at home due to lockdowns and not needing to use cars. However, we have seen the appetite come back in the region in Q3-Q4 2020, and this has continued in 2021, with Volkswagen Middle East reaching a five-year high in sales in May.  

COVID-19 led to further digital adoption in consumers’ purchasing journeys. This has pushed automotive dealerships to incorporate digital services in their sales process by offering a combination of traditional and digital contact options and a new virtual or hybrid sales experience. 

Additionally, consumers have also been more price-conscious than ever while buying cars and are on the lookout for deals such as pre-booking offers and free warranty.  

The region’s automotive industry has adopted the digital shift seamlessly, and we are witnessing consumer confidence increasing rapidly with customers prepared to buy a car through online means or as a result of pre-booking campaigns without physically seeing or test driving the car.

Also Read: New Marketing Trends help UAE Family Businesses Navigate through Digital Era

Consumers today expect personalisation across channels. So how can brands keep up?

According to a survey by Epsilon, 80 per cent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalised experiences. Personalisation, once limited mainly to targeted offers, now extends to the entire customer experience. This means customers now want personalisation throughout their interactions with a brand — across multiple, personalised touchpoints. By adopting customised and engaging user experiences, a brand can begin to feel indispensable and irreplaceable. 

The best way to create personalised experiences is through making the customers feel like they are a part of the dialogue. Customers are more drawn towards brands that target them as individuals with products, offers, and communications that are uniquely relevant to them rather than targeting a whole segment. Event and experiential marketing are great ways to tap into the connection factor as they engage the customers emotionally and leave a long-lasting impact. 

Tell us Volkswagen’s approach towards CX

Our main approach to making the customer experience better is by simplifying the customer journey. In the past few years, we have transformed our method through the whole user journey. We have focused on targeted digital advertising that is relevant to our audience across the upper and lower funnels to make the customer experience better. This included revamping our website to be more mobile-friendly, integrating Salesforce across our corporate website and dealer websites to track and qualify leads to test drives, and integrating with the call centres with a KPI to call back. To add a human element and make our customer experience more engaging and playful, we recently collaborated with LEGO to produce creative aftersales content for our customers. 

What role does data play in your marketing strategy? How do you distil insights from it?

Data impacts and influences everything we do from monitoring the performance of our media channels, our messaging and creative plans, the heat maps and journeys on our website and the quality of leads. Data plays a vital role in our marketing strategy as we use the data across our website, marketing and media to see what our audiences respond best to and optimise our campaigns based on these learnings. 

Also Read: Effective Automotive Marketing in the Digital Era

What does your marketing technology stack look like? How has it evolved over time?

We have completely overhauled our marketing tech stacks to make the most out of our marketing activities. Our main technology platform is Salesforce, as well as proprietary software custom-built for the Volkswagen Group worldwide. In addition, we also work with agencies and partners regionally who leverage leading technologies.  

A book that you recommend

I would strongly recommend that everyone read The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*CK by Mark Manson. This is one of the few books that came to me at the right time in my life and helped me to see the concept of success in a different light. Our struggles determine our successes. The concept of looking at it in reverse, of asking oneself what pain we want to sustain and what we are willing to struggle for, really resonated strongly with me.