Know What Car Dealership Customers Want, and When

By meeting them where they are, a dealership can give desired information rather than another shrill “BUY TODAY” voice in the crowd.

Valerie Vallancourt

October 5, 2018

3 Min Read
Valerie Vallancourt
Valerie Vallancourt

“Big Data” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in today’s automotive marketplace, but just having tons of information about your customers isn’t enough. The most successful dealerships not only have access to the data, but they know what to do with it.

The key to making a difference with data is using what’s known as predictive analytics and modeling to meet customers exactly where they are in their sales journey.

This technology takes the activities of specific customers (such as their purchases, repair orders, browsing history and online habits) and compares this data with what’s already known about prior customers.

Using advanced processing algorithms, this allows a marketing service provider to design campaigns and communications that are targeted to these consumers and are designed to provide the best results.

While the process is complex, the right marketing service can make it easy to put this powerful tool to work. Here are examples of how predictive analytics can make a difference:

Treating Customers as Individuals

Today’s buyers expect to be treated as individuals and not as a “consumer group.” Millennials might have blazed the trail with this new mindset, but older generations quickly realized they, too, would like personalized treatment. Predictive analytics allows dealerships to do just that. Instead of the “pray and spray” techniques of the past, knowing more about an individual customer’s needs, habits, activities and desires allows a targeted message to be designed that’s much more effective.

Studies have found that, when engaged with targeted communications, customers are six times more likely to convert.

Making Quality Contacts in the Sales Funnel

Part of treating customers as individuals is to recognize where they are in their sales journey. A customer who is 90 days out from a purchase is in a different frame of mind from one who wants to buy a vehicle this weekend.

By meeting them where they are, a dealership can give them the information they want when they want it and be considered as a trusted resource rather than another shrill “BUY TODAY” voice in the crowd. Constant, relevant communications pay off when it comes time to buy.

Cheaper, More Effective Marketing

Targeted marketing is a benefit both to the consumer and to the dealer. The consumer isn’t bombarded by irrelevant information, and the dealership doesn’t waste money on campaigns that don’t lead to sales. In fact, not only are these efforts wasteful, they can be counterproductive if a consumer is irritated by inappropriate communications.

Advocating Your Brand and Capturing Defectors

If you are using predictive analytics and your competitors aren’t, you’ve got an almost unfair advantage. By contacting not only your existing customers but their customers as well with pertinent information, you are positioning yourself as the quality dealership in your community.

Customers aren’t as brand loyal to vehicles as they used to be. Gone are the days of “I drive this brand because my Dad drove it.” We are now in the “Which brand best suits my needs?” days.

Being the right voice at the right time can increase customer bases and provide services to a new group of drivers.

Building Rapport and Increasing Loyalty

Consider a customer who recently purchased a vehicle from your dealership. Which message would he or she rather see: an untargeted offer to “buy a new vehicle” or a reminder to stop in for service targeted to the time they are about due for an oil change or regular maintenance?

By communicating with existing customers regularly with relevant information you become their car place, and you’ll get their business regularly.

It costs far less to sell to an existing customer than to prospect and build trust with new customers. Predictive modeling can help maintain and strengthen that relationship.

Predictive analytics and modeling are not the stuff of the future. They are here today making a difference in the automotive marketplace.

Valerie Vallancourt is vice president-marketing at Outsell, a marketing firm for dealers.

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