Global OEM Now Sells Directly to the Public Online

Keen Directive first learned about a global autoparts OEM company that was successfully selling a range of products to vehicle manufacturers around the world. While getting to know the client, the leaders at Keen learned that they were concerned about the impact that offshore competitors would have on their aftermarket and replacement parts business. 

This particular client was an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) based in the U.S. It was a large Automotive Parts Manufacturer with a successful 100-year history that sold directly to over 100 vehicle manufacturers around the globe via an extensive network of account managers.  Traditionally, their customers requested prototypes that they developed. They then deliver literally hundreds of thousands to millions of finished units. Products were subsequently sold through worldwide chains of auto parts stores.

Though they were experiencing continuous success, they understood that the Internet could enable companies that have historically sold through partners and retailers (B2B) to sell directly to consumers. By eliminating the middle-man (i.e. vendors and re-sellers), margins would increase substantially. However, this online, direct-to-consumer marketing strategy would create an entire new set of sales, marketing and communication challenges which the leaders at Keen were able to address.  

Rather than be forced to slash margins or spend money on potentially futile traditional marketing, the client wanted to explore the potential of marketing to and selling direct to the end customer online.  In response, Keen proposed a strategy, implantation plan, overall budgets and estimated cost of sale for this initiative.  Detailed analysis of the current market was given and a review of similar initiatives was conducted. 

Once the first phase was complete, Keen began work on the implementation and maintenance of the media, content and response channels. The campaign consisted of three distinct segments.  The first was to establish a brand/product segmentation via segment specific sites, supported by targeted AdWords campaigns. The second step was launching product specific microsites for three high interest products, providing product selection, specification tools, troubleshooting and installation instructions and “where to purchase” support.  Content and interactivity were stressed and continuously evolved with much of the content used within new social media channels.  Finally, Keen established Amazon as a sales and fulfillment channel for customers that preferred to purchase directly, either the DYI market or the professional installer. 

Keen launched individual, brand-identified websites that included selected best selling products and calls to action that matched the consumer’s purchasing needs (i.e. brand sites). Each site incorporated carefully defined on-page and off-page SEO messaging with cutting-edge infrastructure that scaled well on mobile devices and tablets – the places where Keen identified that the majority of their clients’ searches would be done. The campaign used Google AdWords to drive traffic and Google Analytics to measure the success of the communications (activity) and conversions (sales). 

These easy-to-understand, information-intense communications were then posted to the client’s existing social media. This strategy increased direct consumer engagement and ultimately drove purchases. In just over a year, the three sites quickly boosted ranking in the search results for each product category. In fact, they performed better than the client’s own existing website when it came to product searches.  

Although store locators were initially used, Google Analytics indicated that consumers wanted to buy immediately. As the client could not deliver one-on-one, Keen decided to drive all website traffic to Amazon. The resulting traffic was strong and continuous. Ultimately, this allowed the client to take over all Amazon Store fulfillment, resulting in huge increases in retail (Business-to-Consumer or B2C) sales.

The program delivered unprecedented success. With a 600% to 1200% increase in margin for products sold online, the customer has seen a huge bottom line impact, while maintaining overall unit sales within the aftermarket channel. They have also pushed back on margin pressure, creating awareness and preference for the product within the automotive repair segment.  In this way, marketing efforts could zero-in on matching particular products to the specific customer. The result was reduced acquisition costs, higher conversion rates, and of course better margins. By establishing a direct sales link to the end consumer and responding quickly, the client also learned the importance of fast service and the value of keeping consumers happy resulting in a much clearer understanding of their ROI (Return On Investment). This includes setting of price-per-click budgets as well as what kind of realistic results can be expected.


If you have challenges similar to this client, or would like to boost your ROI, the cutting-edge marketing and consulting services offered by Keen Directive can help you.