Today, digital technology helps customers make decisions about how they want to engage with brands. Thanks to the Internet and changes in global trade, it’s easy to find products and parts from a variety of sources. However, these new ways of buying and selling have disrupted the manufacturing industry. Now, it’s hard to depend on continued demand for any product.
For many manufacturing and automotive brands, this can be a tough adjustment. Most manufacturers have historically used networks of third-party dealers to sell products. This makes things even more difficult, as many have never had direct relationships with their customers.
To find success today, manufacturing brands need to put their customers first, not their products — which means investing in digital technology to improve customer experiences. This strategy has proven benefits: for B2B manufacturing leaders, digital transformation has resulted in 5x higher revenue growth.
Michelin is one of those manufacturing leaders. As the world’s second-largest tire manufacturer (and owner of many other popular tire, travel, and lifestyle brands), 130-year-old Michelin knew they needed to offer experiences that could compete with the newest manufacturing companies. Here’s how they did it.
Shifting from traditional marketing to intelligent marketing
Eighty-one percent of B2B customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Putting customer experience first means shifting from traditional marketing to intelligent marketing.
This may seem like a big shift, but Michelin and other manufacturing leaders are proving it’s possible — and that it yields success. In fact, high-performing marketers are 9.9x more likely than underperformers to have a shared, single view of customers across business units. It all starts with building marketing around unified customer profiles that are shared across your entire organization.
Investing in a customer-centric future
Michelin is a global organization with over 100,000 employees across 17 different countries. In addition to its flagship tire brand, Michelin owns the BFGoodrich, Kleber, Tigar, Riken, Kormoran, and Uniroyal tire brands. They’re also famous for consumer lifestyle brands like the Michelin Guide series of dining, travel, and lodging guidebooks, the ViaMichelin digital mapping service, Tablet, Robert Parker, and their iconic mascot Bibendum (also known as the Michelin Man), who is considered the first advertising mascot.
Most new competitors in Michelin’s industries are competing or starting to compete on experience. Fifty percent of business buyers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience — and 74% say they'll pay more for a great experience. For new and old brands alike, there are real opportunities to find success by taking customer expectations to heart.
Michelin recognized that with improved personalization, there was a huge opportunity to cross-sell across their portfolio of tire, travel, and lifestyle brands. However, for the historic brand shifting from traditional to intelligent marketing was not without speed bumps. To bring everything together under one customer-centric Michelin, data was the key.
Driving marketing innovation with data
The hardest part of any digital transformation is figuring out where your data lives and getting it organized. Michelin had a lot of databases that were managed by different teams and multiple outside agencies. With data scattered and siloed, it was difficult and expensive to actually use it — but in the end, organizing it was difficult but possible. With Marketing Cloud, Michelin finally collected all of that disparate data in a single location. The ROI was almost immediate, and Michelin saved more than $1 million a year in data and storage fees alone.
By consolidating their data, Michelin was finally able to see who was really buying their tires. This delivered a clearer picture of their target audience, and they started using this data to analyze behavior throughout customer journeys and identify patterns over time. This improved targeting efficiency saved the company another $1 million in the first year.
Now, Michelin can proactively act on signals customers send them and use new marketing channels to create new leads for the brand. For Michelin, the most innovative channel has been SMS, which has given the company access to customers at the point of purchase. For the first time ever, Michelin can have direct conversations and deliver calls-to-action right when customers need new tires.
Managing retailer relationships
Michelin’s customer database continues to grow +200% year over year, and the company has been moving swiftly to build a foundation that can scale across channels, business units, and geography. They’re also partnering with dealers to share insights that can help them offer more personalized experiences, driving long-term customer loyalty.
Using second and third-party data, Michelin has been able to build dynamic audience segments. The company now shares those segments with dealers to help them optimize their ad spend. As dealers become more prescriptive with ads, Michelin is able to partner with them to help sell Michelin tires in regions with where they’ve seen the greatest ad spend ROI.