Case Study: Reviving the Romanian Market for Used Smart Gears through Lead Generation

The Need

Autoklass Pipera was seeking a way to improve sales of used smart cars they provided.

The Challenge

A shrinking market for smart cars in Romania


In 2014, Autoklass Pipera became the only authorized Romanian dealer for premium series of smart cars created by Daimler. High presentation standards imposed by the group made impossible for all but one official Mercedes representation in Romania to push them on the national market. Over a three year period, only 24 new smart cars were registered in the country. Used smart cars, on the other hand, presented a better national selling rate, but the buying curve was in decline.

German market was cheaper than the Romanian one for acquiring used smart cars. In addition, a general mistrust in the quality of used smart cars was gaining momentum in Romania. Many drivers considered that smart wasn’t a viable option for a second hand purchase. Being a city car, they presumed that many of those available on the second hand market were actually extensively distressed, with tired engines and rapid failure of gear boxes. 

A prestigious representation office is concerned


With a sober prospect over new smart cars sales, Autoklass Pipera had to increase sales of used ones, despite the worrisome trends built upon national preference for foreign markets and general mistrust in the quality of a driven smart. The company was, after all, a prestigious giant, one of the official representations of Mercedes Benz in Romania. It offered style, security and trust which should’ve been efficient assets to counterbalance the above mentioned threats.

The showroom Autoklass Pipera  had 1200 mp and was completely redesigned and aligned with Mercedes brand identity line, signaling luxury, sophistication and no place for compromise. A solid promise for professionalism and security was enforced through all means, from image, to services and employees’ etiquette. However, once in a while, even though rarely, the company had to manage blitz small image crises, as the citizen journalism practices became more familiar among Romanians and different personal unfortunate stories found their way to the public agora, recounting incidents of faulty, through expensive service provision or insufficient inspection over the used cars they sold.

An identity manual that made little place for turn around

As the national network of dealers selling used smart cars was diverse and the general mistrust in used models was on the verge, it was only clear that customers needed to become qualified in selecting trusted cars from trusted dealers, in order to prevent the categorization of all used smart cars as an unfortunate option.

However, Autoklass Pipera had a binding identity manual that made little place for change in terms of content, tone of voice and approach. A smart, intelligent solution was requested to build upon a stable foundation, a solution that would revive the interest in used smart cars, with no shifts from the already defined strategy line. In other words, the real challenge was to create change while displaying no change.

The solution: Creating a fenced garden for visitors to stay

A strong asset was the prestige and status of Autoklass Pipera. The representation was efficiently attracting drivers who were looking for security and quality, some qualified, and some with a “want to be” profile. However, their main public’s interest was not in used smart cars.  The analysis on user journey and visitors’ behaviours on the site was indicating a somewhat chaotic circulation. The “shop window” approach for the landing page was creating an effect of “no guide museum tour”. 


Visitors were passing through different sections, with little engagement for checked items and they ended up on different websites, for additional information. Their routes showed they left the website before they became salient that they could make a decision. On short, they decided to buy a car during different phases of documentation and prospection, and the Autoklass Pipera website was only one of the stations they stopped by. A strategic move was required to gain more control over the navigation behavior on the website, in order to guide the visitor towards used smart cars and to allow him or her to consider buying a car before leaving the site. 


The main objective was to create a fenced garden.  That implied a strategy to attract visitors on Autoklass Pipera website in strong conjunction with an interest in used smart cars, so they would be pre-qualified to make such a choice. Then, the landing page itself needed a spider-web approach, so that the decision to make the first step of engagement into buying an used smart car to take place with no delay and be as friendly as possible.

Two major responses were considered significant to further develop the strategy:

  1. The danger of used smart cars to fade into shadows, as the public’s interest seemed to diminish, had to be addressed. Also, the general mistrust in used smart cars had to be circumvented and Autoklass Pipera had the assets for positioning itself as a prestigious provider of completely functional driven smart cars, transferring its capital of trust over the products.  Although there were risks associated with buying used smart cars on the national market, Autoklass Pipera was offering one of the most secure and qualitative options a possible buyer could’ve hopped for. 
  2. Once that public awareness was grabbed and Autoklass Pipera secured its position as professional, trustworthy provider of used smart cars, the website, which was the public interface of the company, had to offer a user experience focused on the special offer of used smart cars and to initiate dialogue before the visitor’s interested in it was dissipated. 


While respecting the very strict identity standards for smart cars sold by Autoklass Pipera, a simple and in-depth minded strategy was created, focused on raising awareness over the used smart cars offer and re-creating the company landing page. Granular targeting research was conducted. Then Google, Facebook and YouTube campaigns were tailored in order to grab attention over the topic. Diverse content was created for used smart cars the company provided, in order to boost intentional traffic and attract interested prospecting visitors, who are the most willing to buy such a car. The landing page was re-created in order to maximize the conversion rate by initiating simple dialogue with visitors.

The Journey of Reviving Interest and Sales for Used Smart Cars. Powered by Autoklass Pipera


Attention-Grabbing for the Like-Minded Drivers: Arouse those already awaken


A granular research was conducted in order to identify the most interested possible buyers of used smart cars and to analyze their digital blueprint. The first layer of targeting was developed on Google Search methodology. A portfolio of tens of key words and phrases like “price smart fortwo”, “smart second hand” and “used smart cars” was designed in order to track those who actively search information related to the company’s offer. 


A digital marketing campaign was then created with Google Display and Facebook Ads, which was further refined in targeting potential buyers according to geographic location and demographic criteria, while taking into consideration clear grids of interests and affinities.

Based on You Tube Display, users who watched specific videos were prompted with optimized banners designed to attract them on the company website.  


During this phase, attention was focused on creating awareness over the company’s offer amidst those who are prequalified to valorize it. They were not only the most probable pool of buyers, but also the most probable network of people who would ignite dialogue over the topic, and by doing so, organically extending the public knowledge on the offer. 

Facing rejection and growing upon it

After the proper targeted audience was exposed to the campaign and the public dialogue erupted, a new phase began. This time, the attention was directed over the digital patters of action and interaction of those who have reasons to take action but they don’t. Analyzing the digital routes of those who checked the website but failed to make their mind and left it without interaction provided valuable information for two core planned actions: how to improve the landing page in order not only to increase traffic, but also, to convert it into action, and how to find again the hesitant audience and provide it with a second chance opportunity to make the move from intent to action.

We, therefore, developed the retargeting process for 4 channels, YouTube, Facebook, Google Display and Google Search.  On the one hand, the intensity of exposure to information is crucial for accepting the specific information. On the other hand, optimized re-exposure to information that eludes the first time exposure barriers is the highway for increasing the conversion rate of interest into action. 

Direct approach and friendly dialogue on the landing page

Awareness was grabbed via digital publicity campaigns, but the landing page of the website had to act as a spider-web, well-crafted as to boost traffic, but also designed with intent, in order to guide the audience towards the offer and to facilitate the first step of engagement. While respecting all identity standards for smart cars the company sold, a refined, breathable layout, based on white space and black colors was developed. 

1.Greeting the visitors: straight to the subject and dialogue made easy

The first and foremost objective was to make space for direct communication of the offer and to avoid its burial in the overall web architecture.  Hence, the communication was prompted directly with the invitation to discover the benefits the company provided for used smart cars. Elegant, simple, but complete integration of information was crucial in order to create a clean but standing out and efficient landing page. An opening banner was created to visually attract attention over the offer, while the first section accommodated a sharp presentation of benefits and a simple but visually bold call to action, with a friendly tone of voice.  Prompted by the same time with the offer, the benefits and the simple survey to contact the company, users’ focus was firmly directed while the gateway for engagement made the possibility of action more salient and barriers free.

2. Optimization for boosting traffic: perfect balance of content provision in order to reach the point of just enough information for prequalified users to make a decision

Buying a car, especially an used smart car, is no spontaneous decision. When users reach the company’s offer page, they need just enough information to help them make their mind. Too little information and they’ll slide on another web page. Too much information and they’ll go again with the mental process of considering advantages, risks and options, postponing the decision. It is a delicate balance that has to be reached in content provision, on the basis of users’ behaviours, in order to make sure that a website becomes their final destination. 


In order to boost the traffic on the company’s page for the offer, and also to attune it with digital social behaviors of the targeted audience, we created diversified content, split into textual, visual and video bricks.  Textual information was simplified and synthetized, carefully placed as to facilitate retention.  All content was created as to reinforce the trust in the quality of provided used smart cars, without prompting visitors with the general red flags they were accustomed with. Facts are the most honest and straight forward arguments, so every piece of content was crafted as to directly communicate quality, security and professionalism. We strongly discarded the option to make a case for used smart cars with an apologetic tone of voice, in order to gain trust across a distrustful market. By fine grained targeting we ensured the proper audience, one which is able to perceive the value of these products, so no reconversion of opinions was needed. Moreover, the company itself was a prestigious actor on the market, so facts which directly communicate quality were considered to compliment its established identity.  

Moving further, we created a dynamic route of navigation through the interplay between textual and visual or video content. Attention was focused on creating the best navigation path for the final, desired behavior. Carefully designed layout which complements the content was meant to assure users’ state of flux on the page. The state of flux is the perfectly focused state of mind while doing something. Facilitating the state of flux implies to provide an user with sufficient information and diversity in order to hook his or her curiosity, but ensuring that he or she will not become tired until the end of the journey.  It is mandatory in order for an user to preserve a sufficient amount of mental excitation when he or she is done with the provided content, so to be willing to ask for more. This is the moment when interest is converted into action and the user is the most probably prone to initiate dialogue and get in contact for an offer.

3. No exit allowed: a page that keeps you in

One of the most strategic decisions made during ideating the landing page concerned into closing the gates for escape. Because buying a car is a long time analyzed action, we had to encourage users to make their mind. Considering other providers or other models provided by Autoklass Pipera were the main behaviors which inhibited the conversion rate. We allowed absolutely no links on the landing page of the offer, so that no exit was available to continue the journey. Actually, after visiting the page, the only way an user could continue his or her journey was to initiate dialogue and contact the company for more details.

4. Many entrances, same feeling: optimizing the landing page for all devices

We optimized the lending page for all kind of screens and devices, no matter the size. That allowed the coalescence of mobile audiences with desktop audiences and the moment of decision was debunked by technology related barriers.

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