Using Technology To Reach Customers at Valvoline

We asked Rob Stravitz, vice president of marketing at Valvoline Instant Oil change, to discuss how the brand uses technology in its marketing efforts to target and reach customers more effectively. Here's what he had to say.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change relies on two principles in developing our marketing programs: 1) leverage our extensive customer database to gain insights and target our activities; and 2) can we clearly measure the impact so we are confident that we are delivering long-term value to the business?

The reality is that we operate a business that handles a chore consumers have to do, but don't want to do (a lot like the dentist, my apologies to the dental profession). As such, there is a very limited window when a consumer will be in the market for an oil change. While this makes acquisition challenging, it remains the lifeblood of a thriving business. The good news is that customer adoption of technology is opening a myriad of better ways to reach new customers when they're due for that oil change.

Not surprisingly, we have found search (organic and paid) to be the best starting point to leverage the impact of technology on consumer behavior. However, doing this well is much more complicated than buying an ad in the old paper Yellow Pages. Leveraging indicators that someone is a new customer allows us to be more aggressive in our offer strategy to drive trial among consumers who don't know us.

We're also taking advantage of technology to customize what a consumer sees when they click on the ad and reach our landing pages based on what we know about them, ensuring that the content is more relevant. We have seen both of these drive increases in effectiveness and new customers.

We also are expending a lot of energy to ensure our stores appear in the organic search results. Not only does this drive its own additional store traffic, it makes our paid search efforts more effective.

Another opportunity is leveraging the first- and third-party data that is available and the related programs that use this data in real time. We have found sources that help us not only find consumers who have not been to our locations, but also at the time they are probably due for an oil change. This enables us to reduce waste in the communication and offer distribution, and ensure that we are not subsidizing existing users with trial-level offers.

Finally, we are only now beginning to explore the potential of mobile. Given the changing behavior of younger consumers, we believe this will eventually be the primary method of reaching our consumers in the years ahead.

Published: May 27th, 2014

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