Driven to SEO: Volvo Expands Digital Marketing Strategy
As the economic crisis has forced car manufacturers to reassess their marketing models to attract buyers from an apparently ever-dwindling pool, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is looking at digital marketing to improve its fortunes. New Media Knowledge spoke to the people behind Volvo’s new digital strategy to see what it will entail.
The woes surrounding US car manufacturers Chrysler and General Motors have illustrated the stark challenges the automotive sector face in the current global economic climate. Swedish car maker Volvo expanded its relationship with digital marketing agency Mindshare in April 2009 to help improve its digital PR and social media strategy in the UK.
Volvo says its new digital strategy will focus on listening to, and engaging with, online audiences, as well as the optimisation of digital PR and social media for search engine optimisation (SEO) as part of a “natural and 100 per cent ethical” link building campaign. This will also include blogger outreach, event and community management and buzz tracking.
NMK caught up with Mindshare’s business director Carolyn Watt (pictured) to learn more about Volvo’s digital strategy.
What was Volvo doing with digital marketing before appointing Mindshare?
Mindshare has been working with Volvo since 2000. Last year Volvo spent £19.75 million on advertising, excluding paid search. Of this, the Internet accounted for just three per cent, or £695,500. This year will see a particular emphasis on an integrated digital PR, social media and SEO marketing approach following the success of last year’s Creative 30 campaign in which it partnered with The Independent, Vice magazine and Yahoo to look for creative stars of the future and engage with a younger audience.
What will be the key elements of the digital marketing programme, aside from SEO?
Display advertising, pay-per-click (PPC), digital PR, community management, blogger outreach, buzz tracking, social marketing and content creation. All these channels are designed to complement and drive the effectiveness of all above and below the line media.
What sort of relationship will you have with other elements of Volvo’s UK marketing team?
Mindshare’s team works as an extension of the Volvo - and the wider stakeholder - team ensuring that the strategy and all the tactical elements of the campaign are an enhancement to Volvo’s in-house team of experts – from technical SEO consultancy, to PR, social marketing to strategy definition and analytics – tracking visitors to the site and measuring success against conversions to test drive and brochure request on site.
You’re starting with the website. What’s wrong with it currently and when will the new, optimised version be live?
The site provides an excellent user experience. We are working with Volvo to ensure that the site is optimised not just for usability but also for SEO.
What sort of social media elements can we expect to see?
We're still at a stage of detailed planning and strategy before the outreach campaign begins in earnest.Right now the focus is on auditing the online environment identifying and prioritising the key sites, forums blogs and opinion formers.
Once we have completed all the ‘due diligence’ we will kick start a targeted, bespoke blogger relations campaign via effective community engagement, ongoing monitoring and content creation. The social media activity will be totally synchronised with offline comms, so assets and messaging will be consistent, just delivered via social media channels - bloggers, community gatekeepers and so forth.
The campaign will cover all major platforms from video to micro blogging.
How many key automotive bloggers are there in the UK and how do you class a ‘key blogger’? I’m always fascinated by the focus on bloggers when some of them only receive a handful of hits.
There is a plethora of well-informed and authoritative petrol heads, men and women, lifestyle to environmental. It's a highly active sector, and very well-provided for across all media including traditional online so the most influential bloggers are always changing. We'll identify those more thoroughly during our audit, but they'll be selected for a variety of factors ranging across search and PR, so link value, community engagement, previous interaction with the brand, amongst much more.
Your point about the focus on bloggers is one much in debate at the moment with the rise of microblogging, and we look to many other spaces as part of our mix. However, bloggers continue to offer a targeted and highly-engaged niche audience, reading thought-provoking commentary on a subject their genuinely interested in. While the numbers aren't always high - although they often are surprisingly so - the relevancy of the audience is hard to reach elsewhere.