Turning EV Leads Into Sales: Effective Experiential Marketing Strategies for Every Stage of the Consumer Journey

By Tracii Andrews-Proud, Experiential Account Director, ASV Experimental

Let’s face it, the electric vehicle (EV) industry isn’t just cruising; it’s hitting the accelerator hard.

Recent data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) underscores the growth of the EV market. EV sales practically did a victory lap last year, with projections reaching around 14 million by the end of 2023. These electronic vehicle industry trends suggest a potential reduction in oil demand by 5 million barrels per day by 2030. This surge is fueled by more than just batteries — we’re seeing a massive expansion in EV charging infrastructures, safer and more reliable vehicles, and government incentives. This growth is creating a competitive yet opportunistic landscape for EV marketers.

Transitioning EVs from a niche to a mainstream market necessitates a radical EV marketing strategy. McKinsey’s recent consumer survey highlights a growing preference for engaging and digital-centric purchasing experiences among EV buyers. Prospective customers are looking for a crystal ball into their driving future with interest in virtual test drives and comprehensive information on EV performance, charging processes, and overall benefits.

Automotive experiential marketing events emerge as an ideal tool to acquaint consumers with EVs. These events not only educate but also elevate the overall buying experience, aligning perfectly with the evolving expectations of modern EV buyers.

Marketing through every stage of the funnel

Your toolkit should include press events, groundbreaking ceremonies, ride-and-drives, and corporate events. Each serves a unique purpose from educating consumers and stakeholders about EV benefits and industry trends to providing hands-on experiences with the vehicles.

Determining the right event and timing involves understanding your audience’s position in the buying cycle. Tailor your event strategy to meet the needs of potential buyers, current owners, and second-time buyers by offering relevant and engaging experiences that match their interests and level of EV knowledge.

To spark initial interest: Focus on organizing ride-and-drives, participating in auto shows, and engaging in sponsorships. These events allow potential customers to explore EVs in an immersive environment, helping to reduce purchase hesitation.

For current EV owners: Create events that foster community and maintain excitement, such as tailgate parties, track days, and organized road trips. These events are crucial for building a loyal customer base and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing.

To engage second-time buyers: Employ strategies used at the top of the funnel but with a focus on the latest technologies, trends, and opportunities. Offering exclusive access or VIP experiences like clubs, social rooms, and lounges can enhance loyalty and encourage repeat purchases.

Is experiential marketing in the EV sector worth the money?

Is experiential marketing a wise investment for the electric vehicle industry? The resounding answer is yes, especially when executed with creativity and precision.

VinFast, for instance, showcased a masterclass in experiential marketing at the LA Autoshow in 2023. They created an immersive VinFast experience room with cutting-edge projection mapping technology. This approach transformed a conventional car showcase into an interactive journey, leading to nearly 4,000 leads, one thousand test drives, and 319 chauffeur rides.

The success continued at the Electrify Expo event in Austin, Texas, where VinFast provided EV enthusiasts an opportunity to get behind the wheel and drive their VF8 on the famous Circuit of the America’s racetrack. This provided an additional 2,000 leads and nearly 1,000 test drives. These events show that investing in experiential marketing can lead to tangible benefits, including improved customer engagement, the generation of solid leads, and increased brand loyalty.

While the electric vehicle industry has gained significant traction in the mainstream market, EV industry challenges remain. Consumers still hold some skepticism about charging infrastructure, cost, performance, and sustainability. Experiential marketing is a way for marketers to overcome those challenges and turn EV curiosity into EV ownership.

About the Author

Tracii Andrews-Proud joined ASV Experiential in 2012, bringing with her 20 years of experience in experiential marketing from her tenure at Deutsch Advertising. She is responsible for managing high-profile client accounts and relationships, as well as seeking out and securing new opportunities. Traci’s role involves leading teams for new ventures, using analytical skills to dissect program deliverables to identify problem areas, and ensuring that installations result in successful events.