Case study: how investigation and analysis delivered an experiential first for Mitsubishi Motors

This case study explores how Mitsubishi Motors partnered with CarsGuide Labs and Wavemaker to create an online experiential road trip to simultaneously engage its current and future customer base. The initiative was particularly timely in 2020 with many dealerships around Australia closed for extended periods due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Campaign: Virtual Road Trips

Client: Mitsubishi Motors

Agency: CarsGuide Labs in partnership with Wavemaker

Background 

Mitsubishi Motors is a top-five automotive car brand in Australia with 200 dealerships located around the country. When the global pandemic broke out in 2020, Mitsubishi was faced with the challenge of maintaining its retail sales volume and contact with its customer base in the face of several lockdowns. With dealerships, particularly those in Victoria, closed for extensive periods, Mitsubishi Motors turned to digital content to create an always on touchpoint with its future and current customer base.

Objective

The key objective was to create digital content that engaged a broad audience in an experiential way in the same manner that a Mitsubishi retailer would. Another key metric was organic traffic with the Mitsubishi team keen to grow brand awareness while in-person events were difficult to coordinate.

To achieve this result, Mitsubishi’s Media Agency Wavemaker worked with CarsGuide Labs to formulate a digital content proposal. CarsGuide Labs harnessed top Google trends to analyse what search terms consumers were engaging with. Following this analysis, it was shown that search volumes for ‘road trips’ was at an all-time high with CarsGuide Labs finding that average road trip searches had increased by 104 percent year on year and key searches like ‘The Ultimate Australian Road Trip’ saw an increase of 529 percent in June 2020. This formed the basis for the content theme allowing CarsGuide Labs, Wavemaker and Mitsubishi to then develop the channel delivery.

Strategy

Wavemaker and Mitsubishi made the decision early on to host the content hub on the CarsGuide website with amplification across social media channels. The reasoning behind using the CarsGuide website as the central content hub was that it was capable of hosting a data rich webpage ensuring a longer dwell time for visitors and a true digital experience as per Mitsubishi’s objectives. CarsGuide Labs also ensured that pictures, video, map graphics and a 3D visualisation of the vehicle on location were included within the brief to create multiple engagement points for visitors.

Speaking about the concept behind the activation Tim Flattery, Head of CarsGuide Labs, said: “There was a period when search engines rewarded online experiences for being light weight, easy to load and with minimal rich content elements on the page. However, as the technology has evolved so too has our ability to create engaging digital experiences that cause the audience to dwell and absorb the content that is available to them.”

Flattery added that the inclusion of 3D visualisation technology has been hugely successful, particularly in the automotive and travel industry where being able to visualise something is key to building people’s excitement.

In particular, this campaign set out to target a broader audience and so looked at ways to make the content more pertinent and relatable. After a year that included flooding, bushfires and COVID-19, there was a need to support businesses outside of major cities in Australia.

With that in mind, the project team made the decision to include regional businesses in the recommended road trip journey enabling the campaign to shine a light on the plight of businesses in country NSW and encourages Aussies to get out and explore their own backyard.

Execution

The first road trip was rolled out in December 2020 with the second published in February 2021 providing longevity, and ensuring each piece of content wasn’t compete against the other for search traffic. Both were amplified with strategic paid media via Wavemaker and Mitsubishi was able to maintain an always on approach to customer outreach. This was of crucial importance to Mitsubishi who were keen to stand out as many automotive brands competed for their share of voice online in an attempt to replicate the normal in-person outreach undertaken by both the brand and its dealerships.

Speaking about the initiative, Karen Bradley, senior manager of marketing at Mitsubishi Motors Australia, said: “Customers still want to see and experience their next car. When the lockdowns were announced across Australia, we couldn’t deliver this experience for customers. The automotive market was confronted with a sharp decline in leads and sales. We were seeking a new and inventive way to offer our customers the driving experience they expect when they visit any Mitsubishi showroom, but this time online.

“The CarsGuide Labs virtual drive routes offer both current owners and prospects the ability to take a virtual test drive to an aspirational destination here in Australia. At that time, they helped us to maintain an important presence in the market when it was difficult to test drive a vehicle.

“There has been a v-shaped recovery for Mitsubishi Motors and the industry, and we’re in a strong position to capitalise upon these gains as the content continues to receive positive customer feedback and generate enquiries for dealers.”

Results

Overall, the campaign delivered above average dwell times for readers who were required to spend 21 minutes absorbing the text, videos graphics and 3D virtual scan elements of the initiative. The Pajero Sport road trip on the South Coast was the best performing with users having an average dwell time of 9 minutes and 33 seconds. Users were also drawn to the 3D scans with the interior tour of the Eclipse Cross proving the most popular receiving 7,157 views from 5,543 unique users.

Speaking about these results Wavemaker CEO, Peter Vogel, said: “This initiative shows is that there is a genuine appetite for engaging content. In fact, based on the interest in the virtual road trips story we were able to develop complimenting content series including a competition on social media for followers to win their own weekend away. It was the research and analysis into search trends that enabled us to focus on the core content theme for the integrated experience.”

“In an age of information overload, it can be a fight for cut through,” added Flattery. “What the Mitsubishi road trip has proven is that there is still a strong appetite to experience things online. People are increasingly digitally literate and technology like 3D virtual scans enables us to deliver genuine online experiences that go some way to breaching the gap between virtual and reality. There is no substitute for real world experience, but equally there is no excuse for sub-par online experiences that don’t maximise the technology we have available.”