MINI Canada: Hijacking High Gas Prices for High Returns


Campaign Summary

MINI hijacked the high search demand for gas prices in Canada to increase awareness of its little-known fuel efficiency feature while still dominating fuel-efficient-car keywords. By embracing search marketing and in tandem pushing potential MINI buyers to visit a dealership and book a test drive, it attracted new buyers and increased sales.


Objective and Context:

In Canada, MINI is known mostly for its clever design and spirited performance, but few consumers realize that MINI also possesses fuel-efficient features. Looking to attract new potential buyers and drive more sales, MINI sought to increase awareness of fuel efficiency's added value by harnessing the power of search marketing.

MINI also developed an omnichannel business tactic that pushed potential MINI buyers to visit a MINI dealership and book a test drive. It worked on allocating an in-store dealer visit ratio to add omnichannel value to the search engine marketing campaign.

Target Audience:

In 2018, gas prices in Canada were on the rise, as were the number of Canadians searching online for up-to-the-minute results on fluctuating gas prices. When compared to typical fuel-efficient vehicle keywords such as "fuel-efficient cars," keywords related to "gas price" were up to 50 times more popular on search engines. In fact, searches for "gas prices" even ended up surpassing online search demand for "MINI Cooper." MINI targeted car drivers who were both in market for a new car and those who were not, but were fed up with rising gas prices and looking for a solution through their online search.

Creative Strategy:

MINI's challenge was finding an innovative way to communicate its value-added feature to potential car shoppers. With a limited number of users actively searching for "fuel-efficient" vehicles directly, it had to come up with a unique way to find this audience, or those who were in the market for a fuel-efficient vehicle without even knowing it.

MINI hijacked the high search demand for gas prices to pivot the conversation from frustration to solution. It positioned MINI's fuel efficiency lineup directly within gas price searches. Armed with the knowledge that over 90 percent of gas-price-related keywords occur on mobile, it knew that a mobile-first search strategy was imperative for success.

As drivers searched for what to expect at the pump, MINI showed them how its fuel efficiency delivered a more permanent answer to their problem.


Overall Campaign Execution:

After adding "gas prices" keywords to its current mobile search strategy, MINI leveraged data feeds from (the third-party authority on providing real-time gas prices in Canada) to insert local gas prices automatically into ad copy promoting MINI's fuel-efficient features. This was possible by employing Google's dynamic ad customizer technology and in-house script, plus an added layer of geographic customization via Google's geo-based ad customizer technology, to ensure that users were seeing the gas price associated with the province they were searching from.

For every "gas price" search made in Canada, consumers were served the most localized, up-to-date gas price, cleverly wrapped up in an ad for MINI, reading: "Avg. Gas Price is $1.42 Today — Make Every Cent Count w/ MINI." From there, customers who clicked were redirected to MINI's fuel efficiency page to learn more or book a test drive.

The brand went even further in its hyper-relevant mobile strategy, making use of audience targeting to refine and then layer in "in-market for new car" signals via targeting mode. Bid strategies and negative keywords were also employed to maximize traffic volume and relevance within set budgets for this campaign.

In addition to online leads, MINI utilized store visit tracking to measure engagement with the retailers. This unique tracking method measured actual dealer walk-ins via Google technology, allowing MINI to attribute revenue to its campaign by assigning value to each dealer visit recorded.

The total budget for the campaign was $15,000, and 100 percent of it went to facilitating mobile search.

Mobile Execution:

Knowing that more than 90 percent of gas-price-related keywords are on mobile due to potential consumers searching for these terms on the go, MINI built its entire campaign with a mobile-first strategy. Since its strategy relied heavily on users searching regionally for up-to-the-minute answers, it banked on the fact that being locally relevant was even more important on mobile, which in turn drove its dynamic gas price strategy and kept it relevant and accurate.

MINI made sure that its ads were front and center by applying a mobile bid adjustment of more than 30 percent to allow for increased exposure on mobile devices. This further helped its ads stand out on the search engine results pages among an array of information.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The campaign and its smart search strategy were a huge success, namely because the flanking strategy increased awareness among car shoppers while still giving users what they wanted: relevant gas prices. Instead of interrupting the user's mobile search experience, MINI enhanced it with an answer and a long-term solution: purchasing a fuel-efficient car. More than 99 percent of its clicks came from mobile, proving that leading with a mobile-first strategy was the right move.

By the numbers, the mobile search campaign earned:

  • More than 150,000 impressions
  • More than 17,000 clicks
  • More than 28 times more exposure and 15 times the leads from using "Gas Price" keywords compared to "Fuel Efficient Cars"
  • Click-through rates three times above industry average
  • CPC (cost-per-click) 46 percent lower than branded campaigns
  • MINI's cost per dealer visit was 88 percent lower than generic fuel efficiency, hybrid, and electric car campaigns combined
  • An in-dealer revenue increase from $36,000 to $576,000

Categories: Mobile Search | Industries: Automotive | Objectives: Mobile Search | Awards: NA Gold Winner, X Silver Winner