A longtime client and I were having lunch earlier this year when he voiced a complaint I’ve heard dozens of times from dealers across the country.
“All this digital everyone’s pushing,” he said. “They think that they give us the data and their job is over. But no one tells us what it means or how to use it.”
Sound familiar? My client, who’s also a good friend, is a very smart, experienced dealer who knows exactly where every dollar comes in and goes out in his store. So, he’s inclined to turn his back on efforts where his marketing investments don’t produce a measurable, acceptable return. Digital, to him, is still a Wild West filled with snake oil salesman and no standards.
To a certain extent, he’s right. But, as I explained (and thankfully, he listened) while mixing some metaphors, data is King in today’s automotive universe - because the universe is digital, and digital is data.
Today, dealers, with help from their data providers, can identify and know the exact behavior of their customers and, in fact, all consumers in their market simply by following their behavior online and offline. Behavioral data is simply the tracking and scoring of consumers’ actions on the internet - and on the ground, and measuring their propensity to enter and engage in the automotive buying cycle. By tracking these “footprints” across the internet, dealers can know exactly when and how to engage these consumers in their buying journey to sell them a vehicle.
Behavioral Data and Customer Retention
Most dealerships already have a customer retention program in place. The program uses DMS data to identify customers who are coming into equity or lease expirations in their vehicles. As the time approaches, the dealership reaches out to the customer to invite them in using buyback or other incentives. The dealership employs its BDC, or direct mail, email, social media or some other form of media to reach these customers.
All well and good, except a lot of owners, even lessees, start looking long before the DMS tags them for retention. By the time they come up in the DMS, these customers have already started looking, and too many are engaging with the competition. How do you stop this?
Behavioral Data stops it. Data and internet specialists like ePUSH, use the dealership’s historical DMS sales and service data to identify its customers as soon as they begin to look at the automotive market. Here’s how:
- The vast majority of people research on the internet long before they actually make a buying decision – anywhere from 60 days to 6 months before they actually buy.
- These consumers will:Use websites like N.A.D.A. blackbook or KBB to research their vehicle’s trade-in value
- Search the OEM websites to learn about the current vehicle offerings and incentives
- Search the dealership websites in their market to look at inventory and deals
- Visit dealerships’ blacktops to see and test drive first-hand
All of these are behavioral signals. Based on how much or how little of these actions the consumer is taking, Behavioral Data can score where your customers are in the buying cycle. This puts you ahead of the customer instead of in a catch-up position. You can reach them and make those invitations to come in before your valuable customer decides to give another badge, or a same-badge competitor in your market at shot at selling them a car.
Using behavioral data, combined with your DMS data, you’ll never have to experience that sick feeling of reaching out to a customer with a buyback offer only to find out they already bought from a dealership down the street.
Behavioral Data and Customer Conquest
You can use the same consumer online and offline tracking to conquest customers from your competition.
The same technology that lets you track your current customers also tracks, identifies and scores all the consumers in your market.
Simply use this technology to cast a net around your PMA and use the propensity data to reach automotive shoppers at exactly the right time in their buying journey. That might not be the first time they check their truck’s trade-in value on KBB (I check my car’s value from time to time just out of curiosity).
But, if that consumer has checked KBB and Black Book, and gone to one or two OEM websites – that jacks up their propensity score, and it’s probably time to send them a direct mail offer or start a regular email and social media offering to them.
Data vs. Broadcast
My dealer friend is a fan of radio and TV advertising. He says it works, and I would never try to talk him out of it. Broadcast does its job, which is to advance his dealership’s brand and to reach as many people as possible with some kind of a retail message. But, being a smart and engaged dealer, today, he also knows the shocking difference between the cost per acquisition of broadcast vs. digital.
Using data properly – reaching the right people at exactly the right time – produces far and away the best ROI on your marketing investment, often as low as a third of the national CPA.
Not to say that broadcast (maybe even some newspaper!) is a waste of money, but it is wasteful to think it’s the only answer when a smart investment in propensity data will reveal who you really should be talking to right now!
Staying on Top of the Data!
My friend also says, correctly, that he doesn’t have the tools to put the data he’s getting to work. He’s right. There are reputable sources in the market who can do it all for you: Monitor the online and offline data; identify your customers and other consumers who are entering the market; craft the right messages in the right media; track responses; and provide detailed reporting on results. ePUSH’s Engagement Visibility Engine (eVe™) is a standout among these resources.
My friend started using eVe™ in March, and today, he’s an enthusiastic convert to Behavioral Data.
To learn more about behavioral data contact ePUSH for a demo.