Customer Data Answers National Auto Dealers’ Big Questions & Show Sales Gains
“What will it take for you to buy a car today?” is a question that the entire auto industry—particularly dealerships—wants to answer, every day, with every potential car buyer. The problem, as any salesperson will tell you, is that the answer varies dramatically by customer. But today, thanks to innovative use of customer data, auto dealerships can finally make a well-informed guess at the answers, often long before a customer ever visits the dealership.
Even better, the same technology that answers these questions also solves a variety of other dealer headaches. Successful auto businesses are starting to exploit customer data platforms (CDPs)—technology that aggregates data from many different sources and builds a unified profile of each customer. These profiles can then be used to inform better strategies and touchpoints across marketing, sales, and service to improve everything from initial prospect identification through owner retention, and everything in between.
How Do CDPs Work?
CDPs ingest data from many different sources, build detailed profiles of each customer called “single customer views” (SCVs), and use that data to understand customer behavior and shape those important moments when customers are most likely to embrace a particular brand that solves their problems. CDPs combine data from many otherwise unconnected sources—website browsing and search engine use, ad response, social media, buyer histories, and social media, for example.
National Brands Have Been Seeing Great Results for a Few Years & Are ‘Amazed’
It’s technology that many national automotive brands have been using for several years, to great effect.
“Our marketers originally started using IT technologies like the Treasure Data CDP to help make operational improvements,” says Omura Toshiyuki, manager of Digital Innovation for Subaru. “We continue to fine-tune for efficiency, but we’re much more focused on using data to create value and build lasting relationships with our customers.”
“We’re already, for example, using driver data in the design process,” says Toshiyuki. “We expect in the future to tightly integrate customer and mobility data with factory data for continual improvement in vehicle design and manufacture. Utilizing CDP for data management and analytics really does help us find more ways to make it fun to own a Subaru.”
What’s New? Dealerships Are Now Using CDPs, Too
But innovative dealer groups are also using CDPS and seeing impressive results in their early efforts, largely due to a CDP’s ability to unify data from many different platforms. CDPs integrate data from each dealership, from CRM systems, and from customer-facing sources of data such as websites, social media, and even location data—to understand customer behavior and needs.
“We did a CDP solution for a large multi-brand, multi-location automotive dealership with more than 40 websites, a complex environment of advertising and direct-to-consumer marketing channels, and a rich trove of first-party customer and vehicle data,” says Stephanie Meade, SVP of sales and marketing at Allant.
“We looked at the problems they had—such as needing a better understanding of which customers had a strong propensity to buy very soon, and which dealerships are the most convenient for each customer,” she says.
Allant was able to integrate location data to tell where people were at different times of day, which was a major win.
“Understanding which dealership is most likely to be convenient is often a lot more difficult than just knowing where they live,” says Meade.
“Location-based data can give us clues about where they work or typically pass by each day, and those dealerships can then market to these prospects with targeted, segmented campaigns to get them into the dealership,” she adds.
Another national dealership used a Treasure Data Enterprise CDP to improve such metrics as click-through rate, and achieved a CTR that’s 10X the previously used targeting strategy and tools.
CDPs such as Treasure Data and related technology also create connections between website browsing, other marketing and advertising channel activity, and known consumers, helping the dealership discover precisely when the customer is in-market for maintenance, repairs, or new vehicle leases.
5 CDP-driven Ways to Use Personalization in 45 Days or Less
Of course, there are many types of CDP-driven personalization that dealers can use to boost conversion, new-customer acquisition, and customer lifetime value. Five relatively simple ones that can often be implemented quickly—up and running in 45 days or less—include the following:
- Service coupons: Rather than sending generic service coupons through a third-party vendor, send coupons personalized to each person. An important personalization is to customize the amount of the coupon based on the customer’s distance from the dealer, as well as on behavior or demographic factors.
- Appointment reminders: Personalize this process to lower the rate of broken appointments. Target next-best channel (NBC) to drive greater success.
- End-of-lease and end-of-loan campaigns: Send customers whose leases or loans are ending a sequence of personalized offers for a new car, personalizing the offers for customer characteristics, model, and timing.
- Birthday and anniversary targeting: Send personalized communications celebrating these. A CDP can help suppress ads to people who are not likely to respond, making such advertising more efficient.
- Targeted Facebook campaigns: Send ads to in-market owners of a particular brand, but not from their dealership. When a national dealership tested this against a “spray-and-pray” ad on Facebook, the CDP-enabled, targeted campaign garnered ten times (10x) the click-through rate (CTR) of the spray-and-pray ad, proving the value of using customer data in improving dealership results.
It’s clear from the results of dealerships who are early CDP users that CDPs not only solve a variety of marketing and sales problems, but they help unify data from the many different sources and help dealers understand their customers better. Someday, these dealerships might not have to ask every customer what it would take to close the deal, because they’ll already know.
If you’d like to learn how you can quickly improve dealership performance, register for our upcoming fireside chat with auto industry experts: Leverage Data to Enhance Dealership Performance and the Retail Experience. Or if you’re intrigued about what you can do today to start seeing better results in 45 days, click here to request a demo.