Influencer marketing is a hot topic at the moment, yet it’s still rare to find case studies from brands who are working with influencers beyond one-off campaigns.

At the Festival of Marketing today Nicolas Chabot and Gemma Dodd from Traackr gave an overview of how the automotive brand uses influencers at each stage of its marketing strategy.

Here’s an overview of their very insightful presentation.

The background

While some marketers might use influencers as part of a one-off campaign, Nissan has integrated influencer marketing throughout its comms and marketing plan. 

In order for this to happen, a lot of work had to be done to convince senior stakeholders that it would have a positive business impact and was worth the investment.

Much of this work was done by Rhian Jones, Nissan’s social media manager. A few years ago influencer marketing sat with the PR team and only had a tiny budget. Rhian was first able prove the value of influencers, then she successfully championed the need to reorganise the business to make the most of the opportunity.

As a result, influencer marketing is now embedded within the marketing function and draws from the same overall budget. Nissan has four people working as influencer specialists as well as some agency support, however all the relationships are managed in-house.

Gemma Dodd explained that this has been a double-edged sword, as while influencer marketing is now taken seriously and afforded a bigger budget, the team also has to be more diligent about proving ROI.

Dodd said: “Justifying the spend on influencers is an ongoing piece. That change in attitudes requires ongoing effort, Rhian still needs to spend time reassuring stakeholders that this is the way to go.”

Integrated influencers

Nicolas highlighted two examples of influencer videos that achieved massive reach for Nissan. The first was a Copzilla clip created by Car Throttle which achieved 8m views and 12,000 comments. 

The second was a UniLad video showcasing a car for dog lovers, which included various customisations that made the vehicle more accessible for dogs. It achieved 63m views, while the official Nissan corporate video featuring the same car only pulled in 400,000 views.

These big numbers are all very impressive, but how does it fit into the overall marketing strategy for the brand?

According to Nicolas, the car buying process is complex and can last more than three years. Nissan breaks this down into four stages, each with its own set of KPIs. Nissan works with influencers at each stage of this 'See, Think, Do, Care' framework, though it differs for each model of car.

For example, with its Qashqai model the focus is on the See stage. According to Nicolas: “It’s already a huge car, so Nissan are looking for reach.” For the electric Leaf model, it’s more about building trust in the category so Nissan’s focus is on the Think stage.

And finally, for the Navara the focus is on the Do stage. Nicolas again: “All models in this category are comparable and similar, so Nissan needs to focus on creating leads and driving sales.”

Key Performance Influencers

Nicolas also touched on how Nissan aligns influencer KPIs to its brand objectives. The framework in this instance is Input, Output and Outcomes. Again, the outcomes differ for each stage of the funnel.

Organic relationships

Almost all of Nissan’s influencer relationships are unpaid, though there are various incentives and rewards on offer. These include invites to events and access to cars before anyone else.

Even so, it’s impressive to hear that Nissan maintains relationships with 198 influencers and keeps an eye on 600 in total. This helps the brand to target seven distinct audiences and influencer communities, which are centred around car models as well as related interests.

For example, Nissan works with football influencers as part of its sponsorship deal with Manchester City and the Champions League. This is because Nissan knows that people need to associate the brand with football 6.3x per month in order to increase their propensity to buy one of its vehicles.

Sixty influencers were involved in the brand’s Champions League activity with seven of those (with 32m reach) taken to the tournament’s final.

These types of sponsorship deals obviously aren’t cheap, so it’s not quite accurate to say these influencer deals are free, but results such as those in the below slide show how influencers can help to maximise the impact of marketing campaigns.

(Click to enlarge)


Just to finish, here's a summary of Nissan's influencer marketing results for the year. And with that, our whistle-stop tour of Nissan's influencer strategy is complete.

For more on this topic, see:

David Moth

Published 5 October, 2017 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

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Eric Woning, Strategy Director at TBWA

Would have been nice if Nicolas would have credited the agency that built the model - and was using it correctly (STCD is a model that each consumer goes through - you have to put effort into each stage. Acting as if there is only one focus per model is insane and only goes to show he still doesn't understand the model even though we've explained it to him 3 times already). Also funny how apparently Share of voice & SRS work on multiple levels of STDC - hint: they don't.

2 months ago

Nicolas Chabot

Nicolas Chabot, VP EMEA at TRAACKR

Hi Eric, The content of the presentation David Moth refers to here is exclusively based on an interview we completed with Nissan about this project. We actually did mention the agency in our voice over and I am sorry if you felt this does not represent your work. Let’s have a chat offline about this if you wish.

2 months ago

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