Data is one of the most powerful tools for automotive marketers. But, given the sheer volume and availability of data, it also can be one of the most intimidating. Data can come from sources both inside and outside of a dealership, and knowing how to bring those data points together to create useful insights can be overwhelming. Conversations about “big data” have made headlines for years now, but do the results live up to the hype?

Many marketers would argue that yes, it does, but also point out that data only lives up to its full potential when it’s presented with context. No spreadsheet full of data is helpful on its own—you need to be able to discern what the data is telling you to uncover actionable insights. This is sometimes where a disconnect begins to form between the desire to create data-driven strategies and actual implementation at a dealership. Dealers have a wide skillset, communication skills, vast product
knowledge, negotiation abilities, and the list goes on. But usually they’re not data experts. They know that it takes time to gain that expertise, and if there’s one thing they don’t have enough of as it is, it’s time.

Good news – you don’t need to be a data scientist to make this happen. While it will take some time, it will be worth it when you reap the benefits of data-driven marketing strategies. It all breaks down to
four steps.

1) Pinpoint demand

Pinpointing demand goes beyond just looking at website traffic or your own CRM data, as there are people in market who haven’t set foot in your dealership before. Working with an outside vendor to leverage an advanced technology platform enables dealers to enhance their own in-house data with third-party data and better identify what selling opportunities are around their dealership. These enhanced datasets can help you identify triggers that could indicate whether or not an individual will be in the market for a new vehicle more quickly than before. Being able to identify consumers before they have started the shopping process can enable you to reach them before a competitor does, deliver relevant messages and bring more traffic into your showroom.

2) Refine strategy

As the adage goes “I know half my marketing is working, I just don’t know which half.” Thanks to the power of data, that’s no longer true. Data-driven media plans can help you identify which channels, such as email, print or online advertising, are the most impactful for your marketing. Before, unless a customer told you exactly what advertisement they saw, it was nearly impossible to understand which tactics were the most impactful. Understanding their effectiveness allows you to optimize your marketing budget and spend your advertising dollars in the areas that are going to give you the best ROI.

3) Reach your best prospects

Dealers used to rely on mass marketing tactics that would show multiple models to as many people as possible. While this could drive awareness, these messages often didn’t resonate with consumers because they weren’t relevant. Now, using advanced data and technology, dealers can easily create more customized audience segments and send more tailored messages that align with the customer’s preferences. While this may have always been the end-goal, manually creating segments was a hefty
time investment. Now, technology does the heavy lifting.

An example of the segments that can be identified would be a group like empty nesters in your area. They’re likely looking for fewer seats, and more horsepower. Conversely, if you have a lot of young families, they’re looking for more seats with safety as a top priority. The reality is, most dealerships probably have a mix of both these groups and more living around the dealership. Tailoring your marketing strategies for each group will have more success than previously used mass marketing techniques. An advertisement for the latest SUV that showcases the multiple seating configurations is more likely to cut through the noise for a family looking for a new vehicle than a mass advertisement showing all the latest models.

4) Measure your results

Dealers no longer need to rely on vanity metrics such as impressions for reporting on marketing campaigns. Now marketers can leverage metrics like sales attribution and market share to better understand their marketing ROI. Metrics like market share enable you to compare how many vehicles you’ve sold compared to your local competitors. This type of data continues to help marketers identify what models you should be focused on in the future.

Each one of these steps helps marketers show continuous improvement, meaning that the longer you work with data-driven strategies, the more effective they become. But you don’t have to do it alone. It’s important to work with a third-party who will partner with you to understand your business and give recommendations to help grow in the areas that matter most to your dealership. While it’s true that data can be intimidating, when working with advanced technology, each one of these steps is less arduous, and quickly can become as turnkey as your dealership’s previous strategies. You may be surprised — once you implement data-driven strategies, you may wonder how you lived without them.

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