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Data activation in the dealership: Using third-party platforms to boost marketing

Dealers know the importance of collecting and analyzing customer information, but many struggle to understand the complex factors influencing successful data activation. On this episode of Inside Automotive, CBT News anchor Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Aaron Baldwin, chief product officer at automotiveMastermind, to discuss the role data plays in successful dealership management.

Customer data has long served as an indispensable driver of growth in the car business. As Baldwin puts it, “The backbone of most data-driven marketing campaigns is the first-party data of the dealership.” However, while retailers understand the importance of collecting, storing and transmitting store-owned data in a secure way, he notes that the difficulty many in the industry face is in data activation. “Dealers need to think about…how do I make sure I’m getting the most out of it, how do I find new revenue channels from it, and how do I integrate the rest of the technology my dealership uses so that my service advisers, my sales team, my managers can use that data to make smarter decisions inside the store,” Baldwin explains.

To activate their data, dealers must first ensure that they have enough high-quality information to structure their campaigns. For many, compiling records from in-store and online interactions alone is ineffective, which is why major providers such as S&P Global or Automotive Solutions offer services that verify and expand on dealer-owned data through their own consumer data platforms. “Really, understanding who this person is…is absolutely critical, and you can’t just do that solely relying on the inputs from your teams…or even from the individual consumer themselves,” remarks Baldwin. Combining first and third-party information is critical to creating successful marketing initiatives.

Successful data activation is also reliant on integration. The more dealers add complementary platforms and services to their data-collection toolkit, the more successful their marketing initiatives become. At the same time, Baldwin notes that retailers who fail to use third-party resources will struggle to grow their business: “Activating the data is one thing, but if you do it in a silo, you’re not informing your CRM, you’re not making sure that it’s transferred into a digital retailing process, or that your desking tool is informed over the marketing that was presented to this person…you’re missing a critical component to make sure that the customer’s journey is completely linear.”

Finally, data activation must be done in a secure environment. Baldwin notes that while many companies have protections in place to prevent breaches, the onus is still on the dealer to find reputable partners. Narrowing the list of potential providers down can be done by asking them the right questions, such as whether they have multifactor identification or what their SOC 2 Type 2 report (an analysis of how effective a company is at protecting consumer data) says. “By enforcing a data security policy and asking for things like the SOC 2 Type 2 will really help those businesses make sure that they have the best practices and best policies in place.

Baldwin will be speaking at the upcoming Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Austin, Texas. To hear more of his insights on dealership data activation, be sure to attend in person or online between May 21-23, 2023.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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