DATA! This single word has become a battle cry in recent months. Some of the automotive industries best and brightest have decried the sharing of a dealer’s sovereign data with third party vendors.This data is not restricted to simply the names and addresses of the people that dealers have done business with; it is detailed information about each and every transaction that takes place in every car dealership in the country. Every automobile sold, leased, and serviced adds to what amounts to a digital gold mine for companies wishing to monetize this predictive indicator of consumer behavior.
Why then are so many car dealers still so slow to capitalize on their greatest asset? There are literally millions of dollars hidden beneath the floorboards of every car dealership in the country. The customer data that has been amassed in your CRM and DMS reveals every one of your customers’ buying cycles, budgets, and tastes. When it is properly harvested, this information amounts to an automotive marketing bumper crop.
Over the past several years, automotive internet departments have evolved tremendously, yet most are still designed to be a reactionary backstop. We buy leads, we wait for leads, and then we respond and follow up on those leads to whatever end. This practice is really not that much different than waiting out in front of the store for an up.
All the while, we have the “Glengarry” leads lying right under our noses. Maybe that term has been tossedÂ around our industry a few thousand times too many to be an effective motivator for the real value of the gold that is our data. A dealer’s data base gives them the unique opportunity to engage with their customers in a timely and intelligent conversation; a conversation that may lead to a sale or simply an oil change. Regardless, we have engaged with a loyal customer and let them know that we are paying attention.
Yes, I know, “We do mailers” “We do email blasts.” Is that really engaging your customers? These are still effective forms of advertising, (for now) but they are “push” advertising and have little to do with having an actual conversation. The social design of the internet has made consumers more “pull” oriented. Consumers are looking to engage with the companies they do business with. When we interact with a consumer via an e-newsletter or intelligently targeted campaign and then follow up with the consumer based on their preferences, we are completing the engagement cycle. This, as opposed to just telling them when they are supposed to come in to have their tires rotated.
Dealers have the ultimate control of their data, who has access and to what degree. It is highly unlikely that in the age of “Big Data” dealers will have any success with an isolationist approach. They can however take control of what is rightfully theirs and use it to not only benefit their business, but their customers as well.
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