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What car related Google searches can tell us about marketing challenges

by on July 15, 2019 in Google, Lead Article, News you can use, Nuggets, Social Media

What car related Google searches can tell us about marketing challenges

Any marketer worth their salt knows the value of good data. That’s why we’re willing to pay for it if necessary. But sometimes you can find valuable data for free.

Most marketers will have at least heard of Google Analytics, if they’re not using it every day, but there’s another source of Google data that can prove equally useful for marketers. Google Autocomplete data.

A recent study by ethical car recycling company Scrap Car Network demonstrated the potentially huge value in quite rudimentary search data. The study, which was designed to reveal the most common car problems by make and model actually showed something deeper.

The researchers first analysed Google searches for the most popular cars in the UK, based on sales data from the past 20 years. Most of the results relating to ‘make+model’ searches had to do with maintenance and faults. That makes sense. One of the first things you might do if your Audi A3 is losing power is search Google for ‘why is my Audi A3 losing power?’

But the searches related to brands alone, as opposed to ‘make+model’ searches, showed something far more interesting. The vast majority of searches related to car brands appeared to be performed in the research part of the user journey. The person making the search probably wasn’t an owner of the brand they were searching about. They were searching with questions about the brand itself. And those questions were clearly based on brand perceptions.

Interestingly, those brand perceptions can tell marketers a lot.

The most common queries about car brands had to do with reliability. The data show that Citroen, Land Rover and Renault are perceived as the most unreliable car brands, with the most common queries related to these brands being ‘why are Citroens/Land Rovers/Renaults so unreliable?’ while Skoda and Toyota were perceived as the most reliable.

A lot of the searches were related to a brand’s perceived value.

For example, why are Volkswagens so expensive?’ or ‘why are Hyundai’s so cheap?’ This tells us a lot about brand perceptions. Volkswagen is by no means an exclusive brand, but they’re not cheap either.

Searches related to exclusive premium brands like Porsche were less likely to be about why they were expensive. Because someone giving serious consideration to purchasing a Porsche probably isn’t as price sensitive. But for mid-market brands, it was more of an issue.

On searches about cheapness, the researchers detected a little suspicion. VW searches wanted justification for the price tag, Hyundai and other cheap brand searches wanted reassurance that there wasn’t a catch.

Some of the brand queries were a little more offbeat. For example, the most common search for SMART cars was ‘Why are SMART Cars smart?’ Other unexpected queries included ‘Why are Peugeots called pugs?’, ‘Are Land Rovers still being made?’, ‘Why are Jeep called Jeep and ‘Why is Masserati so cheap?’.

Even Brexit has influenced the UK’s perceptions of the world’s biggest car brands. The most common search related to the Nissan brand was ‘Why are Nissan leaves the UK?’.

Brand owners and marketers can learn a lot from the questions people ask about their brands and their competitors.

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