In Publicis Sapient’s 2023 European Car Ownership Report, it was found that 50 percent of car owners never interact with their vehicle’s brand beyond the initial purchase of the vehicle itself. Of those that do, only 7 percent interact via an official brand app.
The remaining 93 percent represent customers that OEMs aren’t making an effort to engage with beyond their initial purchase. Any brand that can capitalize on the use of engagement tools like mobile apps has the opportunity to massively increase the lifetime value of those currently inactive customers.
It’s quite simple to expand on this idea and use it as a stepping stone to build a larger strategy for improving customer lifetime value (CLV), by leveraging the connectivity of apps and in-vehicle infotainment systems to improve the in-vehicle experience and therefore enhance customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.
However, OEMs first need to uncover what aspect of these applications isn’t being utilized effectively—why are so few customers using them? Common causes for low uptake of mobile apps include unoptimized, user-unfriendly design or a lack of marketing leading to low awareness. Alternatively, it might even be that there aren’t any real benefits to using the app in its current form.
This last point—a lack of app utility—is a great springboard for building a connectivity strategy. Improving the utility of an official brand app can increase the number of customers using it to interact with OEMs, the potential for future transactions and improved customer lifetime value.
It’s important to take the time to discover what customers truly find useful, though, or else this tactic may not result in any significant increase in engagement. Features like predictive maintenance prove popular with most audiences: Publicis Sapient found that 34 percent of car owners feel predictive maintenance is the most valuable digital service, a significantly higher percentage than the next most-popular answer (connected car data at 18 percent).
Companies struggling for ideas should try to focus on a singular overarching goal instead of a specific function. For instance, one goal might be offering applications that leverage people’s time as effectively as possible. In doing so, a development team might consider making maintenance more efficient, as this is a time-consuming task. Leading on from that concept, they might develop a vehicle system that automatically books and schedules maintenance at registered dealers or one that can order replacement parts ahead of time to avoid supply chain issues.
Regardless of the service a company offers, the collection of customer data needs to be a consideration. Leveraging connectivity to create generic in-vehicle experiences can go some way toward improving CLV, but any new services must be personalized to be truly effective in meeting customers where they are, and producing customers for life.