On Q7 Globe, Audi’s portal for its new Q7 automobile, a camouflaged Audi Q7 roars through the desert. The chassis is recognizable only in silhouette. The letter “Q” in the name of the Audi Q7 comes from its permanent all-wheel drive, or quattro. The number “7” stands for the place of the vehicle in the hierarchy of Audi vehicles – between the Audi A6 and the Audi A8. From March 2005 until the introduction of the vehicle on September 12, 2005, more than 180,000 prospects from around the world registered at the online portal, www.audi.com/q7globe. By August 2005, the site had counted more than a half million hits. Such an intense response comes not only from the allure of the Q7 itself, but also because Audi’s target group is younger and extremely comfortable with the Web.
The Audi marketing communication and Audi relationship marketing departments jointly began the online portal, which is the largest multichannel marketing project Audi has ever undertaken for a new model. It’s a central element of a program to generate international interest and customer care. The Audi marketing department provides national Audi offices with all communication elements of the online portal, such as short videos or animated specialists. The national offices work independently to tailor the elements to the cultural demands of their countries. For example, the Swedish office can design an e-mail campaign so that prospects are addressed by their given names. So far, 38 national offices have used the prospect program, which is available in 9 languages. In addition to Western Europe, offices in the United Sates and Latin America, the near east, and Australia have used the program.
Dialog and communication
The concept of the prospect program was created as early as a year and a half before the start of the market introduction of the Audi Q7. Early plans addressed Audi’s need to establish a new model of the Audi brand in a new segment or the market. During the campaign, prospects received newsletters about new features on the online portal and mailings with integrated questionnaires. Registered users of the portal could ask questions about the Q7, which created an additional form of communication. Data on prospects was transmitted directly to KUBA (a German abbreviation for the Audi customer database), the central CRM platform.
It was IT project management’s job to coordinate the individual requirements of each country and to monitor the realization of those requirements. The motto of IT project management is “to transmit the right form of communication at the right time to the right prospects” – a tremendous challenge. The project is multilingual and multinational. It also includes a multilevel dialog process with various communications channels: e-mail, telephone, and regular mail. Each step in communications requires the integration of about 120 target groups, 32 different e-mail templates, and up to 22 different online questionnaires.
Audi engaged the argonauten 360∞ agency to provide first-level support for the campaign and to redirect the advanced and detailed questions of national offices to the core project team.
Refining the target groups
Before each communication step, an intended target group of the campaign was redefined and selected with the help of the segment builder tool in mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM). The task meant answering several questions. Does the prospect come from one of the markets participating in the campaign? Does the prospect have an e-mail address? Did the prospect register from a list or the Internet portal? Had the prospect logged out of the campaign in the meantime? When did the prospect register? What questions has the prospect already asked? Once these questions were examined, new prospects could be assigned to existing target groups or new target groups could be defined.
Management of prospect data
The linchpin of the data management is the central CRM platform that Audi has had in place since 2002 and that is used in Germany, Italy, Brazil, and the United States. The prospect program currently uses mySAP CRM, SAP Business Information Warehouse 3.5, and SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (SAP NetWeaver XI) 3.0. Data on prospects enters the database in different ways. Some of it comes from address dealers and is then transmitted to the project team in encrypted form by the national marketing offices. The project team then uses the external list management functionality in mySAP CRM to import the data into the database in individual steps. Prospects provide some of the data when they register with the online portal. That data is automatically transmitted to SAP NetWeaver XI and loaded into the customer database. A check for duplicates and address validation occurs during the process.
Overview of the status of distributions
Distributions can occur online or by regular mail. Address data for regular mail is formatted in the central CRM platform and transmitted to a fulfillment partner for follow-up processing. For online distribution, KUBA transmits personalized e-mails directly. A design agency provides the required e-mail templates in HTML format. All dialogs to capture prospect information are appended to personalized questionnaires.
An import interface developed in house is used for technical processing of the responses. Data captured from online response is transferred directly to KUBA. Data is captured from response cards that arrive by regular mail quickly and seamlessly with a Java application that generates an XML file. Because the file corresponds to the structure of the import interface, the interface can be used to load the file into KUBA. KUBA also contains notes about on and offline contacts in the prospect’s history. The campaign automation features in mySAP CRM help managers quickly measure the success of a dialog level by tracking the response behavior of the prospects who have been contacted.
The collected responses are evaluated and used to qualify prospects. This process creates individual profiles so that the various target groups can be handled centrally and locally, according to their needs. The profiles are used directly in executing the campaign.
“Formatting the data, segmenting the prospect groups, selecting the target groups for additional steps in the campaign, making the results available, and providing comprehensive reporting show just how complex that project is. And it also involves various languages and the national offices that participate. But the effort has been worth it, as seen in the high numbers of registrations and the quality of the data,” explains Clemens Roer of the relationship marketing department at Audi AG.
To a great extent, SAP BW is used to segment data according to requirements that differ by region and individual customer care of prospects in the Q7 prospect program. For example, the project had to ensure the later, successive integration of beginners at communication into the dialog and communications process. At the end of the Q7 prospect program, the relevant prospect profiles are returned to the participating national offices so that they can execute local marketing plans.
Attracting new customers
The concept of a centrally managed and integrated prospect program has been proven to offer many benefits for local markets. The benefits include a uniform presence to prospects in the market and the ability to execute a campaign with fewer resources. The high number of registered prospects with high-quality information and a high percentage of new customers – those who had never driven an Audi before – shows that the idea worked as expected. Because the reaction has been so positive, Audi plans to use the concept to introduce additional new models.