Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption


Growing Demand for Electric Vehicles Through Online Education

September 8th, 2022

Post by Jennifer Fening, Smart Columbus Director of Marketing & Communications

A central premise of the Smart Columbus Electrification Program is that we will radically grow electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the region by influencing early adopters to purchase EVs by reaching them through the region’s large employers. As such, we’re assembling a network of 100 Acceleration Partners that will host electric vehicle Ride & Drives, create EV incentive programs, educate employees on the benefits of electric vehicles and more.

But we also know that car buyers spend an average of 13 hours researching their vehicle purchase online. So, we established the hypothesis that influencing early adopters in the workplace is vital to achieving our EV adoption goals, we also need to be present online as they take the next step in researching and completing their purchase.

We identified at education and exposure were important objectives for an education campaign, but the most important thing the campaign could do is drive actionable demand for electric vehicles. For that reason, we determined that the most important key performance indicator we would use to measure the effectiveness of the campaign was dealer leads generated—getting local residents to opt-in to being contacted by a local car dealer to discuss a vehicle purchase. 

With a budget of $900,000 for an 18-month program, we set about identifying an agency partner that would help us execute this program.  We issued an RFP to help us identify an agency partner (see RFP below). Factors we considered when reviewing agency proposals included:

  • Experience and capacity of the proposed team members
  • Agency experience completing projects with relevant scope and objectives
  • Quality of initial thinking, based on challenges presented in the RFP
  • Use of data and research to inform recommendations
  • Understanding of the Smart Columbus mission
  • Cost effective delivery of scope, including experience negotiating added-value media and access to pro-bono rates or matched hours. 

Upon the completion of the process, we chose to partner with local firm Fahlgren Mortine. During their pitch, Fahlgren Mortine presented spec creative for a campaign concept called “EVolve Your Thinking.” The campaign used key phrases that leveraged the acronym “EV” to call attention to the benefits of driving electric vehicles.

To help inform our strategy, our marketing team assembled an advisory group that consisted of electrification industry consultants, marketing directors from our Electrified Dealers and marketers who had implemented EV education programs throughout the country.

Upon consultation with the advisory group, our team mapped several pillars of messaging we wanted to focus on:

Some members of our advisory committee did challenge the concept of using the “EV” acronym, asking if it was too much jargon for our audience. However, the Navigant research on Columbus early adopters demonstrated that the early adopters in our target population already had a high level of awareness about EVs, leading us to believe that it was safe to use the “EV” acronym technique with our target audience. However, in markets where EV adoption is more mature, this may not be as viable a strategy. 

When producing the creative for the campaign, the team focused on both photography and videography, capturing content of both talent and real EV owners.  The content secured was developed into a variety of digital banners, as well as video spots in 15, 30 and 60-second spots, as well as one nine-minute educational video that leveraged the testimonials of real EV owners from the region. 

The campaign was launched on Dec. 1 leveraging several mediums of particular relevance to our early adopter demographic:

  • Local TV
  • Streaming TV 
  • Online digital ads
  • Social media ads
  • Online search
  • Waze navigation

The spots all drive users to the Drive Electric section of the Smart Columbus website, where residents can learn more about the benefits of EVs, watch the short and long videos from the campaign, review model information via an EV buyers guide, and most importantly, complete a “Talk to a Dealer” form that creates a lead submitted directly to local dealers for follow-up.

Within its first two weeks, the campaign drove a 95% increase in website traffic from within the Columbus region, generating about one dealer lead per day. As we review campaign data and interpret its effectiveness, we’ll report our learnings here in the Playbook. 



Sign up here to stay up-to-date on the latest from Smart Columbus.