By Rob Preston
Mack Trucks is a powerhouse brand, with trucks bearing its bulldog hood ornament ever-present on construction sites and trash routes across North America. With the recent launch of the Mack Anthem model, the longtime American truck maker is now well positioned to grow its over-the-road business as well. In rolling out the Anthem, Mack is grabbing the attention of customers, drivers, and dealers with a digital marketing campaign that is as bold and efficient as its sleek new big rig.
Mack’s integration of modern social, email, and website tools was a big step for the 118-year-old American manufacturing icon. Historically, brochures, print ads in trucking trade publications, and industry trade shows (such as the Mid-America Trucking Show, World of Concrete, and WasteExpo) have been its marketing channels of choice when rolling out a new product. But those channels didn’t provide the opportunity Mack was looking for to craft and deliver different messages for different customers: a manager of a large fleet might put a priority on fuel efficiency while an owner-operator might place a higher value on aesthetics. While Mack’s marketing team still uses those traditional analog channels for broad awareness, it shifted into a higher gear for the Anthem launch with a digital campaign that emphasizes segmentation and metrics over mindshare.
It allows us to be more targeted, more efficient, and able to measure our activities in a far more effective way.”–John Walsh, Vice President of Marketing, Mack Trucks
“It allows us to be more targeted, more efficient, and able to measure our activities in a far more effective way,” said John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing, in an interview at the Mack Customer Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, just miles from the Lower Macungie factory that will build the new Anthem models. “In general, whichever company has the best data and does the best job with it is going to win.”
Country Music, VR, and More
Among the Mack marketing team’s digital initiatives for the Anthem launch was a series of gated YouTube videos, released biweekly starting in early July 2017, that built excitement for the forthcoming new highway model, culminating in a live stream of the Mack Anthem unveiling on YouTube and Facebook on September 13. In all, Mack collected about 7,000 email addresses from the teaser campaign, and 3,700 people logged in to the live stream of the launch event—significant numbers for a product that costs more than US$100,000.
The marketing team also launched a comprehensive social media campaign, pointing Mack’s Twitter followers (now more than 24,000), Facebook followers (more than 174,000), LinkedIn followers (more than 15,000), YouTube subscribers (more than 15,000), and its other social communities to videos, photos, text summaries, and other content on every aspect of the new truck line. From the start of the Mack Anthem teaser campaign in July through the unveiling of the product in September, the brand pulled in more than 40,000 new social followers.
Mack uses Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service and Oracle Social Cloud to connect social activity with the 175,000 profiles in its Oracle Eloqua database, so it knows if a person clicked, say, a Facebook post to view an Anthem-related video and then later downloaded a white paper or looked for other information on macktrucks.com. Using Oracle Social Cloud, team members also receive an alert when the Mack Anthem is mentioned on various social sites, so that they can respond where necessary.
In addition to the YouTube series and social media campaign, the Mack marketing team distributed Google Cardboard virtual reality (VR) viewers to potential customers, letting them take a VR tour inside an Anthem model. Registrants requesting the viewers on macktrucks.com’s Anthem landing page are required to provide their first and last name, company name, job title, email address, and phone number. The marketing team then uses its Oracle Eloqua system’s lead-scoring model to qualify each individual.
Today, I can see on the digital side what happens with every dollar we spend.”–John Walsh, Vice President of Marketing, Mack Trucks
That scoring is based partly on each individual’s tagged engagement with other high-value content on Mack’s website, as well as on an estimate of each person’s purchasing authority, given his or her job role. “It’s all of those indicators that say, ‘Yeah, this guy’s interested in this truck,’ not someone who just wants to see what’s new from Mack and then is gone,” says Neil Tolbert, Mack director of marketing communications.
The marketing team still does part of that scoring manually, Tolbert adds, pulling up the website of a qualified lead to see if the individual works for a current Mack customer or is a “conquest” opportunity to take business from a rival. As part of that due diligence, the team also looks at the size of the individual’s employer—from owner-operator of a single truck all the way up to a large national fleet.
Another big-impact component of Mack’s Anthem campaign is partnerships with celebrity influencers. The company’s marketing team enlisted country music artist Steve Moakler to record a road song, titled “Born Ready,” for the Anthem launch and dedicated it to drivers. More than 55,000 people have now watched Moakler’s performance of the song on YouTube. The marketing team also produced a YouTube video with the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack, the National Football League’s 2016/2017 defensive player of the year, called What Makes a Mack. More than 75,000 people have watched that video. The creative direction and editing for both video pieces were executed by Mark Urmos, Mack’s content marketing director.
The marketing team is now building out a broad-based influencer program identifying customers and drivers who will be among the first to see the company’s new products and be active advocates on social media, sharing their Anthem and other Mack experiences and observations in short posts and videos, Tolbert says.
More than 9,300 people have opted into some aspect of the Mack Anthem campaign (including 2,100 for the VR viewers), generating about 1,700 qualified leads, the company says.
At the center of the campaign is the comprehensive Anthem landing page. There, customers and prospects can not only sign up for a VR viewer and watch the Moakler video, but they can also consume information on every aspect of the new truck line, from its fuel efficiency and easy maintenance to its driver-friendly dashboard and cab design. That landing page has drawn more than 146,000 visits so far.
Headquarters: Greensboro, North Carolina
Industry: Truck manufacturing
Revenue: About US$1.5 billion
Oracle products: Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service, Oracle Social Cloud
Length of tenure: 16 years
Education: MS, Boston University College of Communications; BA, College of the Holy Cross
Personal quote/mantra: “In today’s world, if you’re not providing customers with exceptional experiences in all aspects of your business, and empowering employees to continue delivering those experiences, you’re falling behind.”
Also central to the Anthem digital marketing campaign is Mack’s Oracle Eloqua database of 175,000 customers and prospects. The marketing team uses compelling, personalized content to engage those 175,000 people and move them further and further through the sales funnel, until they finally ask to talk with a Mack dealer, Walsh says. At that point, the prospect is considered a qualified lead.
In the days of analog-only marketing, he notes, such a customer or prospect probably would have started with a sales rep at one of the 380 independently owned Mack dealer locations in North America, which account for about 90% of the company’s global sales. Today when customers come through the door, they have educated themselves to a far greater degree. “They’re very knowledgeable when they walk in, not only about what we offer, but also about what the competition offers,” Walsh explains.
That education goes both ways. For example, if a potential customer’s activity on macktrucks.com indicates he’s interested in learning more about the Anthem’s mDRIVE automated manual transmission or the truck’s ample sleeping quarters, a dealer sales rep will have that information at his or her fingertips in order to have a more informed conversation with the prospect in the showroom. “I love that we’re able to be that personal now,” Walsh says. “It’s part of the DNA of our brand.”
Mack’s marketing team is partnering more closely with dealers, not only sharing leads but also digital best practices, to the point where dealers are now hiring their own marketing managers. Mack has set up a marketing subcouncil with select dealer principals, to get their feedback and buy-in on all of its marketing activities, he says.
Mack’s digital marketing is carried out by a small in-house team and without an exorbitant amount of money. “When it comes to the Anthem launch in particular, we’re very proud not only of the great demand for the product we’ve generated, but also how fiscally responsible the launch was as a whole,” Walsh says. “I’m very fortunate to have such a talented, committed team that has always treated the company’s money as if it’s our own.”
The team’s digital efforts not only are bringing more focus to the OEM’s conversations with drivers, dealers, and customers, he says, but they’re also elevating the marketing discussions in Mack’s boardroom, specifically around return on investment.
“Today, I can see on the digital side what happens with every dollar we spend,” Walsh says. “Then we can A/B-test that and decide what’s the best way to have a conversation with a customer to move them through the sales funnel. That’s the journey we’re on, and we’re well down that road. It’s super exciting.”
Photography by Paul S. Howell
Rob Preston is editorial director in Oracle's Content Central organization, where he provides insights and analysis on a range of issues important to CIOs and other business technology executives. Rob was previously editor in chief of InformationWeek. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @robpreston.