Marketing challenges dealers can solve with a customer data platform: Key findings from the PureCars Customer Data Survey

Focusing on first-party data as an alternative to third-party cookie-based marketing actually gives dealers more control of their customer retention and acquisition.

By now, you’ve likely heard that Google has planned to phase out third-party cookies in 2024. In the digital marketing landscape, the third-party cookie has been a key component for collecting data and targeting customers for years.

This change to a cookieless environment will require dealers to pivot to marketing strategies that focus on using their first-party data. This data is owned by the dealership and collected directly from consumers through interactions with a dealer’s website, other digital properties, or in-person interactions.

In March of 2023, PureCars conducted a survey to get a pulse on what dealers understood about third-party cookie deprecation, how they’re currently using data for targeted marketing and the health of their current customer databases.

We uncovered some important marketing challenges that dealers are facing. Fortunately, they can all be addressed with a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

Uncertainty Surrounding Google’s Elimination of Cookies in 2024

Without third-party cookies, dealers need to be ready to transition to a marketing strategy that makes use of their first-party data. 58% of responding dealers were unaware or unsure of Google’s plan to eliminate cookies next year. 

Considering that, it’s not surprising that 55% of dealers were either unfamiliar or only moderately aware of how a cookieless landscape would affect their ability to target potential customers. 

In addition, just 25% of respondents were very concerned about how it would impact their digital advertising performance.

Once cookies are eliminated, it will be essential for dealerships to rely on their own first-party data to understand and engage their customers in a more personalized and relevant way.

A CDP has the capabilities to help dealers thrive as the advertising landscape evolves. Only a CDP can organize and analyze first-party data to create a comprehensive customer profile — and then create audiences which can be used to deliver personalized messages on any outbound marketing channel. 

Incorrect Data Leads to Inaccurate Targeting

More than half of surveyed dealers are wasting their ad spend to varying degrees. More specifically, 55% of dealers believe that a quarter or more of their customer database is targeted with marketing that’s not relevant to them due to inaccurate data.

Unreliable customer data leads to a significant waste of ad dollars, either from incorrect information or reaching out to customers with irrelevant messages. Not only that, sending the wrong message at any time leads to a negative customer experience.

A first-class CDP will automatically clean and append customer data, ensuring it’s accurate and up-to-date — unlike a CRM system, which often requires manual entry and typically focuses only on managing customer interactions.

The combination of clean customer data sourced from a CDP, that then directly links to a marketing technology platform, can provide results like improved costs per conversion, reduced ad waste and deliverability rates of up to 95%.

A Thorough Check-up on Database Health

The survey revealed some alarming trends relating to the health of a dealership’s customer database. Just 13% of dealers felt their DMS was populated with clean data and only 11% cleaned/appended their customer data on a monthly basis. 

Most respondents indicated that their DMS was plagued with some kind of issue, including:

  • 35% duplicated customer info
  • 34% unconfirmed customer information
  • 48% outdated customer email address
  • 46% outdated customer vehicle information

It appears that, in most cases, dealerships’ DMS and CRM systems are filled with inaccurate and unreliable customer information — a real pain point that has plagued the industry for years. 

To ensure customer data is as accurate and useful as possible, it should be cleaned and appended monthly, at a minimum.

A CDP that cleans and appends data can be particularly effective in creating a “golden customer record” to accurately represent each customer in your database.  

If you’ve ever paid to clean the data in your database, it was likely the opposite of dirt cheap. DMS providers often charge hefty fees for this task  — sometimes as much as $20K per scrub.

To make matters worse, this one-time cleaning is really only effective for a month or two. After that, all of the factors that went into plaguing your database with bad info begin to have the same effect. 

The Tangled Data Webs we Weave

The more sources of data your dealership has, the greater potential there is for duplicated and mismatched customer information. 92% of dealers indicated they receive data from 3 or more sources.

An automotive CDP makes data ingestion simple by putting all of your data sources into one secure data lake. Untangling multiple data feeds to find — or use — the data you need becomes a thing of the past.

Our survey also found that 52% of dealers struggle integrating customer data into one source platform, which demonstrates they aren’t optimizing the first-party data that’s available to them.

A CDP combines data from multiple sources to create a single centralized customer database containing data on all points of contact and interactions with a dealership. The more comprehensive the data, the more effective your marketing campaigns will be.

Give Your Marketing the Edge by Taking Control of Your Data

This survey has given a strong indication that dealers may be unaware of the marketing challenges they need to overcome without cookies — and how that will affect their digital advertising strategies.

More importantly, it has told us that dealers are missing opportunities to capitalize on first-party data that’s clean and accurate, which are key areas a Customer Data Platform can address. 

Focusing on first-party data as an alternative to third-party cookie-based marketing actually gives dealers more control of their customer retention and acquisition.

This approach will give dealers an upper hand in delivering the ultra-targeted marketing that will be essential to compete in crowded markets.

A full analysis of the survey results led PureCars to create a guide outlining actionable insights for dealers to overcome these data challenges. To download the white paper, 5 MARKETING CHALLENGES DEALERS CAN SOLVE WITH A CUSTOMER DATA PLATFORM, click here.

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Aaron Sheeks
Aaron Sheeks
Aaron Sheeks, is the President of PureCars, an Atlanta-based leading provider of digital marketing technology and services for automotive dealers. Aaron is a former U.S. Naval Officer and prior to joining PureCars, served as the CEO of The AutoMiner, acquired by PureCars in early 2023. He has a proven track record of building successful sales and support teams while working hand-in-hand with top dealer groups across the country on their retail processes. He holds a MBA from Trident International University.

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