Inside: BMW Motorrad’s strategy of driving sales via digital in 2020

BMW Motorrad Digital Strategy

Despite all things bad about the year, BMW Motorrad was able to leverage digital and sell about 160 bikes more in 2020 than in 2019; we take a deep dive into their strategy.

BMW Motorrad encourages one to ‘Make Life a Ride’, something that has been a key proposition in their digital communication strategy over the last few years. With their posts, they nudge people to look up to the brand as a partner in the journey to make life a ride. Digital Refresh Networks has been managing the brand’s social media presence over the last four years.

Explaining the evolution of the agency’s relationship with BMW Motorrad, Barin Mukherjee, Co-Founder & CEO, Digital Refresh Networks tells us, “From just managing their communication needs, we have evolved to be a partner in developing and managing the complete digital ecosystem that combines communication with commerce to meet the brand objectives.”

“We have evolved from just creating content to developing and maintaining a complete digital marketing ecosystem. This has helped our performance which has evolved year on year,” says Shivapada Ray, Director, BMW Motorrad India.

2020 was a challenging year for the brand but also one that came with an opportunity to engage with their fans instead of just promoting their bikes online. Even offline events like bike launch were moved to digital — a necessity due to COVID-19 that helped them witness a hike in sales.

Monies & Sales

BMW Motorrad’s association with the Digital Refresh Networks has led to witness growth in sales. In 2020, they sold 2,563 units, an increase of about 6.65% from 2019, when 2403 units were sold. To what extent should a digital marketing agency be concerned about monetary returns is a question with multiple answers. Can a promise of a monetary RoI set a tricky precedent? Could it be a potential pitfall?

Mukherjee shares his view: “We believe every marketing team is literate enough to be clear of their expectations of the medium. If we, as a marketing solutions company, aren’t able to map the objective, it is vital that we should be asking the question of being relevant to a brand’s journey.”

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In the case of BMW Motorrad, the agency saw an opportunity in tracking and easing the purchase journey of a consumer. Mukherjee explains, “For BMW Motorrad, being sold offline through the dealer network, while the consumer researched online to educate themselves to engage and to converse to capture the intent of sales happening, we felt it’s important to set up a process to be able to map the entire journey, and we achieved the target with the marketing team.”

This was done right through content creation, listening, sharp media targeting, and ultimately management of conversations to funnel in qualified leads. “This led to the integration with their existing systems to be able to attribute the efficacy of every action taken,” he adds.

Mukherjee feels the share of voice, sentiment evoked and the number and type of discussions initiated about the brand on social media are some of the criteria brands should consider while calculating the RoI.

The BMW Motorrad Digital Strategy

Digital plays a key role in the purchase journey of a consumer by being a point of research, be it in the form of reviews or UGC. It gives the brand an opportunity to be a part of their journey and be considered as a potential purchase choice. For BMW Motorrad, the agency has had to focus on identifying the persona of each bike and then creating customised communication so as to connect with the relevant audiences.

“While BMW Motorrad is a brand widely known internationally, and enjoys a cult following, we have noticed that the majority of Indians associate the brand with cars only. There was a need to reach out to a wider audience and raise awareness. We achieved this by targeting and being part of different passion points of our potential customers,” Mukherjee tells us.

Being a primarily visual medium, Instagram is the most important platform for the brand. Here, the brand plays up aspirational content to grow their community and engage with relevant audiences.

The Brand’s Side

For BMW Motorrad, digital is an important space for it facilitates direct engagement and acquisition of feedback. “Digital helps us funnel the engagement that we have at different touchpoints through a process that eventually leads to sales,” BMW Motorrad India’s Shivapada Ray tells us.

“Considering that each bike has a different personality and thereby different segments of audiences, digital acts as the perfect platform for us to invest primarily as it enables us to customise our communication and target only the relevant audience,” he adds.

All said and done, India is a value-conscious market and BMW Motorrad is a luxury segment bike brand. How does this impact the brand’s marketing communication in the country? Ray tells us, “We have to include the value proposition to the experience angle.”

There are various benefits of digital for a luxury automobile product: Targeting a niche audience for the product, analyse performance through data and improve in real-time, map RoI and ensure two-way communication between the brand and the audiences.

As for pitfalls, the brand feels that the pace of communication on digital can be tricky for the luxury sector segments. “It’s more of a challenge with digital being an ever-evolving medium. One needs to be in sync, real-time, to get the best out of it,” Ray states.