What we've learned from 100+ Automotive content marketing campaigns

By Bethany Watson • 22 March 2021 • minutes reading time

Since the beginning of our journey with our first motoring client Select Car Leasing in 2016, we have created and executed over 100 automotive content marketing campaigns and scooped up some impressive awards wins to boot.

Check out one of my favourite campaigns that we created earlier this year for Select Car Leasing. It challenges the user to react to a hazard faster than Tesla’s Automatic Brake would.

Automotive is a big sector for us as an agency and, as I write this, we have more than 30 further campaigns for the auto sector in at least one stage of the agency right now, whether that be fleshing out an idea, in research, design, development or in active outreach.

Over the course of 5 years, we’ve worked with an array of clients from car leasing, online garage marketplaces, car dealerships, and manufacturers and during that time, the team has built over 4,000 links for automotive brands.

Needless to say, we’ve experimented enough to know what makes this sector tick.

What’s a “successful” Automotive content marketing campaign to us?

First, I’m going to quickly clarify what we consider to be a ‘great’ campaign and it’s not just about a high link number. We aim to produce a piece of content that can hit a certain target of ‘organic’ links – so not a syndicated link from a network of publications (even though that’s still useful to gain). The piece may have multiple angles or approaches to guarantee its success, or it may be so widely interesting that PRs like me can pitch the content to a wide range of sectors.

This is my favourite part of working in the motoring sector. Get your content right and it can appeal to almost everyone that owns a car, or to journalists in a range of sectors. Think outside of just motors, but to consumer, finance, lifestyle, technology, science, and entertainment sectors too. One of the most important things I have learned is to create content with more than just one target audience in mind.

You’ll know when a campaign is particularly good as you’ll get a link on a few of your target sites before it suddenly runs away from you. With little actual outreach, you can find your research on a multitude of websites across the world.

No campaign is ever a guaranteed success, but there are certain elements that will give you a stronger chance. We’ve plotted out some of our campaigns from the last 12 months based on their complexity and overall “success” from our perspective, to see what the top-performing pieces had in common (highlighted red).

In this industry in particular, format is king.

Mapping out the success of automotive content marketing campaigns - Evolved Search

My Favourite Formats

With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of the best formats for automotive content marketing campaigns which have proven to be successful time and time again.

Games/Quizzes:

Quizzes are a familiar format in content marketing and if they are challenging and entertaining enough, they can provide for some fun content that is easy to sell from a PR perspective and to republish from a journalist’s perspective.

In my experience quizzes are a no-brainer, but with the right resources, I find that more interactive content such as games can be even more successful as they engage your audience in your content.

My biggest tip is to make sure the topic is interesting. Games are no easy feat to create and no one wants to see that time wasted on a topic that no one cares about.

A picture containing indoor, table, window, grass Description automatically generated

Data Visualisation:

Anyone who has worked in content marketing will be familiar with data visualisation. It’s as simple as taking a large data set and making it attractive and easy to digest, such as a map for example. Check out Data is Beautiful, Visual Capitalist and The Pudding for inspiration.

battleofcarbrands-europe - example of automotive content marketing by Evolved Search

Primary Data (FOIs):

As with any content, you want it to be unique and, ideally, revealing something new. Government Freedom of Information (FOI) forms are an excellent place to start.

You can request information from the likes of government departments, local councils, schools, colleges and universities, the NHS and police and fire services to uncover an array of findings.

All you have to do is ask – and have a little bit of patience!

Repurposed Secondary Data:

This one is a little bit more complex, and for want of a better phrase requires a bit of ‘out of the box’ thinking. There are thousands of companies out there that publish data on every topic you can think of which is free to use and repurpose providing it is cited correctly. Some of our most successful automotive content marketing campaigns involve using this available data and repurposing it to tell a certain story.

Take this data set from Geotab, for example. All we have done is look at the data to determine which electric vehicles have batteries that degrade the fastest. This was a really simple concept, but once the cars we’re sorted into a top and bottom list of 10, we received coverage from all over the world.

Visual Content:

Saving the best for last, my favourite format for this sector relies on some top-notch graphics or illustrations to bring bizarre, shocking or futuristic ideas to life.

Take this campaign we did for Whocanfixmycar.com for example, where we took classic petrol car models such as the Aston Martin DB5 and Lamborghini Miura and created renders to visualise what the cars might look like if they were electrified for the EV era.

Futuristic models for WHOCANFIXMYCAR - Automotive content marketing campaign by Evolved Search

Car websites in particular love this kind of content as it brings imagination to life and stands out against the usual car news. The only thing to consider, however, is to not run away with your ideas.

This piece worked so well due to its relevancy in the news. We noticed journalists were writing about car manufacturers such as VW who are creating the ID Buzz: an electric version of the classic VW campervan, so we jumped on the opportunity to electrify other classic cars – and with over 25 organic links, it worked a treat!

What are the winning elements?

So, there you have it. A whistle-stop tour of the automotive content marketing campaigns we’re making a name for ourselves in delivering and the key elements that make them such a success. If you take away anything from this post, it should be that successful content for the auto sector involves:

  • Unique and unusual visuals
  • Little-known information
  • A bizarre or weird angle
  • Data that hasn’t been seen or done elsewhere
  • A little bit of creativity

Get in touch if you’d like to hear more about our automotive experience and see how we could help your business.

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