How to develop an effective marketing strategy for your vehicle-sharing business

How to develop an effective marketing strategy for your vehicle-sharing business

Marketing in the mobility business is unique because your fleets – be it scooters, bikes, cars, or mopeds – are like a flexible billboard moving all over the city. Whenever someone chooses your service, they essentially parade it around town like a brand ambassador, and even when your fleet is stationary it attracts significant attention as people constantly see it on the streets. 

In other words, urban mobility businesses enjoy high brand awareness. 

Still, for mobility entrepreneurs, this is the norm. Namely, it's an industry baseline that everyone benefits from and it won't necessarily help you gain more customers, outperform competitors, and boost business. 

To do all of those things, you still need an effective marketing strategy that reaches the right audiences and activates users.

Understanding your target audience

Vehicle-sharing customers are diverse, as are their motivations for using the services. Since you're likely operating in a very specific market, i.e. a particular city or region, it's critical to identify and understand your target audience and the different segments to not only reach and speak to the right people, but also avoid wasteful ad spend. 

Determining who you're marketing to will also help you in defining the messaging and channels you use, which are key for successful campaigns. 

1. Differentiating between B2C and B2B segments

The broadest categories are business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). While most people associate vehicle sharing with B2C, e.g. a person zooming on a scooter down a bike lane to make an appointment, the reality is that the far-less-visible B2B segment is thriving with initiatives like corporate car sharing schemes

The messaging for these two – the individual on the scooter and the CEO looking to offer a convenient mobility solution to their employees – will vary greatly. Different pain points, motivations, and use cases mean that you must adapt how you talk to each segment and differentiate between the two from the get-go. That is, if you're looking to target both. 

2. Conducting market research to define customer personas

Whether you're focusing on B2C, B2B, or both, you should research who are the people using/buying your services. The goal is to have your marketing efforts reach the right people, and by digging into the background of your customers, you'll gain an understanding of who they are.

To do so, dive into demographics (age, gender), use cases (how, when, and why they travel), and price sensitvity (how much they spend, do discounts affect their decisions), among other things. Companies often craft user personas by putting all of this information together and creating a profile of the average customer, which they then use to develop their messaging. 

Do note that if multiple dominant categories emerge, it's completely normal to have 2-3 user personas. Plus, these can evolve over time, so make sure to conduct ongoing research and refine it according to new data. 

Finding the right marketing channels

Once you know who you're targeting, it's important to find out where these people are to reach them in the most effective way possible. If your primary customers are college students, you're unlikely to find them on Facebook. 

Generally speaking, we can split the marketing channels into two categories – online and offline. 

Online channels

Nowadays, digital marketing is where the bulk of action happens. 

Social media platforms offer a fantastic opportunity to reach your specific audience, as they typically allow advanced targeting. By narrowing down various parameters, such as location, demographics, and even related preferences (the factors we defined when creating user personas), it's possible to have very cost-effective ads that generally reach the people who are most likely to convert. Collaboration ith influencers is also an increasingly effective strategy.

However, you must carefully consider which platforms to advertise on. B2C content will thrive in places like Instagram, but, if you're targeting CEOs and CPOs for B2B services, LinkedIn may prove to be a better fit. It's extremely difficult to accurately predict which platform will perform best, hence it's wise to have a presence on multiple platforms, and allocate budgets according to observed returns. 

Search engine and content marketing is another avenue worth exploring – think of it as your company showing up as the first result when somebody searches for a keyword relevant to your business, e.g. “best car-sharing in (city)”. This can be paid, where your website or app appears as a sponsored result. Or it can be organic, where you produce valuable content that ranks highly on search engine result pages. 

Organic content may take longer to deliver results, however, it can offer greater long-term return on investment (ROI). For example, if your city is a burgeoning tourist destination, you can create a guide on how to get around the city and include your services as one of the best ways to do so. 

Display advertising is another paid channel and, in essence, it entails paying partners to place ads/banners of your services on their website. For display advertising to succeed, finding the right partners is key. For example, it might make more sense to have your car-sharing service banner appear on a local tourism page or a student club website than a clothing e-commerce store. 

You'll find further digital marketing opportunities with email marketing, referral programs, push notifications and more. With online advertising, experimentation is critical – test various methods and platforms to explore what brings the greatest ROI. 

Offline channels

Offline channels include things such as traditional media (TV, radio, print), outdoor advertising, as well as partnerships and sponsorships. These can complement a strong digital marketing strategy, particularly as it relates to standing out among the competition. 

Fostering brand awareness is its strong suit, as offline advertising typically struggles with driving direct conversions. That is, a bus stop poster may not give you immediate app downloads, but its primary value lies in your business being top of mind when the potential customer is looking for a mobility solution.

Of course, you don't have to – nor should you – go all-in on a single channel. Rather you should dabble in multiple to see what works, and then double down on the most effective channels. 

Allocating ad spend effectively

The goal of any marketing effort is to invest $1 and get more than $1 in return. Working with a limited budget means you must carefully manage your ad spend to get the most out of it. 

First, you should define measurable goals for your marketing campaigns. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) allows you to measure the success of your campaign. These KPIs – e.g. app download, website visit, account creation, first ride, user activation – can vary between channels, platforms, and campaigns, however, they should always be conducive to achieving your business goals. 

With clear goals, you can evaluate performance. Investing in various channels and seeing how they perform will provide you with insights about which should be left alone, and which are the more lucrative ones that demand prioritzation.

Still, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Adapt your campaigns to each platform. A video of a teenager dancing around your scooter might do great on TikTok and flop on LinkedIn. 
  • Take into account that vehicle-sharing, and e-scooters in particular, can be a very seasonal industry and your marketing goals should reflect that. 
  • Your campaigns should become more effective over time as you gather more data, so don't get discouraged early on. 
  • Always tackle low-hanging fruits first, namely, the opportunities that give you the most returns with the least amount of effort. 

Effective ad budget allocation is a balancing game that you will get better at with experience. Early on, it's about defining achievable goals and finding the easiest way to reach them.  

Making use of ATOM Mobility's features for marketing

Best-in-class software platforms for mobility, like ATOM Mobility, should offer various tools that help you along in your marketing journey. 

For example, ATOM Mobility can inform your overall strategy with the comprehensive analytics business owners can find in their dashboard. Ride and customer data, statistics and heatmaps, reports and insights can all help you get a better grasp of who is using your services and where. This, in turn, may aid in defining user personas and ensure you don't have to start your marketing from scratch. 

More directly, ATOM Mobility also offers inbuilt advanced marketing tools:

  • Loyalty and referral programs that drive word-to-mouth marketing,
  • Integrated email marketing, in-app messages, and push notifications that help stay top of mind and re-activate existing users,
  • Discounts, promos, and bonus zones that appeal to deal-chasing customers.

This article has mostly focused on customer acquisition, however, retention and activation should also have a prominent place in your strategy. By leveraging your own organic communication channels – your app, email subscribers, social media – you can increase customer lifetime value, boosting revenue at low expense to yourself. 

Level up your mobility business 

A well-executed marketing strategy can elevate your business. Putting one together takes effort and resources, but it can be the difference between struggling to make ends meet and a thriving mobility enterprise. 

So, identify your customers, target them where they hang out, iterate and optimize. And make sure to use tools and platforms that help you along the way.

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