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Revolutionizing the Auto Industry – Insights from Affinitiv’s Chief Product Officer on OEM Technologies, Social Media Strategies, and the Future of Customer Loyalty

In a recent interview with Automotive Industries, Adam Pavkov, the new Chief Product Officer for Affinitiv, Inc., shared valuable insights into the automotive industry’s evolving landscape, particularly in the context of OEM technologies and their impact on dealerships.

 

Pavkov emphasized the strategic role of customer lifecycle management in ensuring long-term profitability for dealerships. With a focus on enhancing the guest experience, OEMs are aiming to retain customers and drive loyalty amid the current macro-economic environment. Pavkov expressed enthusiasm about Affinitiv’s suite of products designed to assist dealers in managing the entire customer lifecycle journey, connecting with customers at every stage, and delivering experiences that foster loyalty.

 

Addressing the role of social media in the automotive sector, Pavkov highlighted the need for diversification in media, messaging, strategies, and audiences. He advised dealers to go beyond inventory-centric content and adopt a multi-faceted approach to stand out in the competitive landscape. Recognizing the evolution of user engagement on platforms like Meta, Pavkov stressed the importance of aligning marketing strategies with consumer habits, such as the increasing popularity of video content.

 

In response to a question about customer loyalty, Pavkov underscored the shift towards an “experience economy” where customer satisfaction is closely tied to the overall buying experience. Dealers were advised to promote unique shopping experiences alongside traditional inventory- and price-centric messaging. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of adopting a customer messaging strategy that delivers personalized and informative communication based on customer and vehicle milestones.

 

As the Chief Product Officer at Affinitiv, Pavkov outlined the company’s commitment to customer lifecycle management and marketing intelligence. Affinitiv is investing strategically in solutions that help dealers attract and retain customers through comprehensive, data-driven loyalty programs and marketing platforms.

 

Pavkov also provided a preview of findings from a national consumer survey on automotive buying trends. The study covered topics such as sales, service, and consumer mindset, revealing a growing demand for e-commerce solutions in both vehicle purchases and services. Notably, the survey indicated that a significant percentage of consumers, particularly those under 55, are willing to explore online vehicle purchasing options, with some expressing a willingness to pay a premium for the convenience of online shopping.

 

Drawing from his experience as the former head of Automotive Retail at Meta, Pavkov discussed how his background in tech and automotive marketing informs his approach to product development and strategy at Affinitiv. He highlighted key trends, including the macro-economic impact, a consumer-centric focus, privacy-centric advertising, and technological advancements, as crucial factors shaping Affinitiv’s strategies to address industry challenges and maintain its position as a leader in customer lifecycle management and marketing intelligence.

 

 

Automotive Industries asked Adam Pavkov to share some key insights or trends in the automotive industry, particularly in the context of how OEM technologies are evolving and impacting dealerships?

 

Pavkov: A common thread I see is the strategic role that customer lifecycle management will continue to play in the long-term profitability of the dealership. We’re seeing OEMs place a renewed focus on the guest experience in an attempt to retain customers and drive loyalty while everyone navigates the current macro-economic environment. What excites me about this new opportunity is the suite of products that we have developed to help ensure dealers are managing the success of the customer lifecycle journey. Helping them connect with their customers at every point in the sales and ownership lifecycle with timely and relevant messaging, providing experiences that drive loyalty.

Automotive Industries: Social media plays a significant role in marketing and customer engagement. What are some effective strategies for using social media to generate sales and build customer loyalty in the automotive sector?

Pavkov: When we look across the Meta advertising landscape, we see a majority of dealers using inventory-centric creativity alone in their social media execution. It’s a powerful foundation but leaves many dealers competing with ads that have a similar look and feel so I would encourage dealers to prioritize diversification — diversify media, messaging, strategies and audiences. Additionally, it’s important to constantly track how user engagement shifts on these platforms. Many people will probably remember when a vast majority of what was shared on Facebook was simply text. But of course, that quickly migrated to images, and then video, and even more immersive media formats like VR. We want to make sure we’re delivering a message that stands out and aligns with consumer habits. When we know that more than 50% of the time spent on Facebook is watching videos and more than 20% of the time spent on Instagram is watching reels, we must capitalize on those behaviors and ensure vertical video production is a core component of our media strategy. Producing this type of content will give your customers a more immersive way to engage current browsing behaviors and give your brand access to all the video-only placements across these apps.

Automotive Industries: Customer loyalty is crucial for long-term success in the automotive industry. What advice can you provide on crafting a comprehensive customer lifecycle management strategy that enhances ROI and fosters brand loyalty for dealerships?

 

 

Pavkov: Dealers have both an opportunity and growing expectation to compete for business beyond vehicle availability and price messaging. In the new “experience economy,” we’re seeing a consistent shift to consumer satisfaction mapping back to the overall experience they had during the path to purchase. Across industries, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. When we look at the auto industry specifically, we see themes like “good customer service” and “easy purchase process” as main reasons for customer loyalty. If you’re a dealer with a strong understanding of how your store or group’s shopping experience separates you from your competitors, promote this alongside your inventory- and price-centric creative messaging in your advertising strategies. In addition, you need to adopt a customer messaging strategy that deliveries relevant, personalized and informative communication based on customer and vehicle milestones. If every customer touchpoint either adds or detracts from their perspective of your brand and we have an appreciation for how impactful experience is on long-term loyalty, focusing on the guest experience now is an investment that will support dealer profitability moving forward.

Automotive Industries: As the Chief Product Officer at Affinitiv, what innovative products or solutions is your company developing to address the evolving needs of auto OEMs and dealers in the digital age?

 

Pavkov: Affinitiv prides itself on being a customer lifecycle management and marketing intelligence company so we will continue to make strategic investments in this category to bring solutions to market that help dealers attract and retain customers through marketing and software experiences. Our core lifecycle marketing platform provides dealers with a comprehensive, multi-channel and data-based loyalty solution designed to meet the needs of the modern dealership and consumer. This includes key features like predictive analytics and personalized touchpoint messaging during the ownership lifecycle.

 

Automotive Industries: You mentioned a national consumer survey on automotive buying trends. Could you give us a preview of any interesting findings or insights from this survey, and how it might impact the industry?

Pavkov: To put it simply, we have identified three primary categories in our study: sales, service, and consumer mindset.

  • Under the sales category, we delve into topics such as recent vehicle purchases and online transactions.
  • For service-related insights, our focus areas encompass appointment setting, customer retention, video inspections, and messaging preferences.
  • Consumer mindset insights include touchless service, loyalty programs, preferences for coupons, usage of chatbots, and concerns related to inflation.

Overall, our survey revealed that consumer demand for e-commerce solution and the impact they have on their perception of the overall experience is growing in auto sales and services. More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents under 55 years old are likely to purchase or take steps towards purchasing their next vehicle online, if available. In fact, 25% of consumers claimed they would pay a premium for the convenience of online shopping, with the average buyer willing to spend an extra $260 in fees to buy a car through a website or mobile app.

Automotive Industries: With your experience as the former head of Automotive Retail at Meta, how has your background in tech and automotive marketing informed your approach to product development and strategy at Affinitiv?

Pavkov: My experience as the former head of Automotive Retail at Meta has provided me with a unique perspective on the automotive industry that I’ve been able to leverage in my role transition here at Affinitiv. With my tech and automotive marketing background, I’ve been able to identify a strategic approach to product development to meet the dynamic demands of today’s market.

In the industry’s current landscape today, several key trends have emerged from my experience:

  1. Macro-economic Impact: The prevailing macro-economic conditions are exerting downward pressure on businesses, underscoring the heightened importance of fostering customer loyalty.
  2. Consumer-Centric Focus: Recognizing that consumers now prioritize overall business experiences over just pricing considerations has been instrumental in shaping our strategies.
  3. Privacy-Centric Advertising: The evolving landscape of a privacy-centric ad ecosystem has compelled us to reevaluate how we execute and measure advertising. This has resulted in a renewed emphasis on the value of first-party customer data.
  4. Technological Advancements: Emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, has presented exciting opportunities in the realms of software and advertising, allowing us to explore innovative solutions.

By focusing on these trends, we know we’ll continue to develop solutions that address the know industry challenges and continue to position Affinitiv as a customer lifecycle management and marketing intelligence company.

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