The Autoblog gang was a bit underwhelmed with the e-zine Car and Driver, considering the offering as just a transfer of the magazine with no significant features that take advantage of the new format. That’s a missed opportunity to create renewed interest in the magazine, particularly as now there are so many sources that break car news instantly, such as … er…Autoblog.
That’s okay for now. The discussion of content — and how to best measure its effects on readers — continues unabated. The best that these and other organizations can do is to use as much analytics tagging as technologically possible to learn how people use the content and provide better services for all.
The iPad has received much hype since Apple’s announcement. But the news that really caught my attention was Hyundai’s offering an iPad in the glove box of every new Equus. The Equus is the brand’s most expensive vehicle, a premium sedan aiming to be a BMW 7 series alternative. The iPad will serve as a service manual instead of the standard brochure.
Now this may sound like a slight come down for Apple — why have a $500 computer serve as a book — but there is a marketing advantage for Hyundai and Apple, along with an analytics opportunity as well.
Hyundai is in an interesting position. It has been strengthening its brand as of late to gain more upscale customers, but unlike Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, they can not create a whole new network and sales division by scratch (ie Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura). Adding an iPad creates a special and timely interest about the Equus.
For Apple, the inclusion addresses the criticisms for what an iPad can be besides an extra computer device. Although much has been said about the ebook reader capability (and even more said about e-book pricing — more later in a separate post), there are not many innovative examples to show the capability of an iPad or Slate device. Replacing the service manual changes that. The iPad revitalizes a long ignored feature in an automobile and renews the usability in an interesting way, similar to how Starbucks revitalized how consumers perceive coffee.
“The iPad will also schedule service appointments, for which owners won’t even have to drive to the dealer. To give the brand a more upscale feel, (Hyundai CEO John) Krafcik is creating a system in which a service attendant will pick up the car from the owner and leave them a loaner. Hyundai also is offering home test drives for potential buyers.”
This means increased customer service capability and more information on its target customers, premium buyers. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda had the natural progression of customer lifestyle — buyers wanting more premium vehicles as they progress professionally — but these brands did not have the feedback potential Hyundai will have from customer communication to the dealer via the iPad (Maybe Toyota could learn a trick or two for the Lexus LF-A — see the Zimana blog post on it.)
Takeaways for small businesses:
Match your branding accordingly with whomever you partner with — Apple is not a luxury brand, but features and its stores incorporate features of a premium brand (and it is positioning iPad to be superior to netbooks). This is a fit for Hyundai, which is not an Acura but will limit production on Equus, establishing some premium level above the vehicle on the second rung, Genesis.
Technology can serve as a gateway to offline engagement of customers. Using the iPad will allow Hyundai to use all the techniques and tools to encourage a positive engagement at the dealership. Auto owners have had a negative impression of dealership experience, and all automakers struggle to ensure that any repair is a positive experience that will lead to repeat sales.
Analytics can aid your brands effort to strengthen its image by providing a means to gather customer feedback and infer how to improve customer service or product offering.
Gregg Hano, Group Publisher of Bonnier Technology Group, spoke at a recent gathering sponsored by Digital Flash NYC (which sponsors some great business panels with solid Q&A — see the Digital Flash NYC site here for more on the group and their event schedule!) . Hano presented an explanatory video of the digital version of Popular Science magazine, currently researched with Bonnier design partner BERG, and spoke about the challenges and opportunity potential. Hano graciously listened to many questions from the audience, with excellent queries ranging from analytics to owner’s rights to the purchased content. Highlighted queries include:
A digital magazine creates the potential for publishers to control content, though like book publishers, magazine publishers fret about how this can be done.
There is potential for selling individual articles as well as selling e-reader subscriptions as a premium (at least initially).
Advertisers can create ads rich in content that can true engage readers.
There can be a distinct market for readers of a print magazine.
For web analytics, this along with iPad are further example of content consumption away from a given tagged website. The new challenge for blogs, e-magazines, newspapers, and other content providers is to capture the path that leads to traditional web metrics such as increased time on site and conversion.