Data lessons for automakers that all marketers should learn

Posted by Damian Garbaccio on August 29th, 2014 at 11:48 am

The automotive industry is a highly lucrative and competitive market and as such, automakers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves – including how they market to prospective buyers. With consumers regularly revealing meaningful insights about their consumption behaviors across devices, automakers have the opportunity to turn data and insights about potential customers into meaningful messaging.

But more data doesn’t necessarily mean that an automaker is more likely to successfully engage with existing and potential consumers to drive additional sales. The reality is that marketing magic comes from taking a smarter approach to data to gain a 360-degree view of your customers wherever they might be in the process of purchasing a new vehicle.

In fact, there is a relatively long consideration period during which a prospective car buyer cycles through several different stages: contemplating a car purchase, deciding to make that purchase, deciding between new and used, considering various makes, models and options, weighing various financing options, etc. Data reveals where your customer is on that journey, their intent to purchase, as well as a number of other factors that might be influencing the buying process.

That said, automakers have a very specific set of circumstances within which their marketing efforts must operate. Buying a car falls into a separate category from most everyday purchasing behavior and must be treated differently when it comes to nurturing leads. Marketers in any sphere can learn a great deal about how a smarter approach to data and the right technology partner can be used to accomplish their goals.

An auto marketers’ main challenge is that the vast amounts of data they have access to often exists in siloes and they typically lack a central management platform for turning it into insight. For instance, automakers use data from third-party auto consideration sites, their own branded sites and customer relationship management (CRM) programs, and offline sales data from national and local dealerships, amongst others.

When it comes to targeting and measurement, these siloes can hinder customer engagement and ad spend optimization. However, data management platforms (DMPs) can be leveraged for a holistic view of the customer’s entire journey, filling in those gaps so that marketing efforts can be driven by comprehensive insight.

For instance, marketers should segment their audiences into the consideration set. For an automaker, this means those conducting general automotive searches with an eventual intent to purchase; and the deep in-market set — users who search for specific makes and models, price car packages on auto sites or visit their local dealer sites. Furthermore, most car buying processes start with visits to auto comparison sites. Because the bulk of auto marketing is geared toward new car buyers, it is important to be able to separate that group from those customers focusing their search on used cars.

A DMP partner can determine which customers fall into each segment, even at the early stages of their journey so that automakers can continue to nurture and engage them until they pick up their keys. A DMP can also help complete the customer story by parsing data in real time. As a DMP integrates each data silo, automakers can determine the overall competitive landscape – i.e., what other brands or specific models are being researched and how one brand can edge out the competition during the consideration phase. It can also tell which customers actually made a purchase (which typically occurs offline at a dealership) to help brands avoid wasting impressions and saturating consumers with irrelevant ads.

Perhaps the most important lesson that the marketing world as a whole – including automakers – can learn is that data can be used to create and message to highly specific segments in a scalable way and can be even further enhanced with a sophisticated platform to manage that data and turn it into actionable insight.

Many auto marketers – and marketers in any vertical – stick to tried and true audience segmentation methods, but the fact is, they are only getting part of the picture. They are missing out on a major opportunity to significantly boost engagement rates and revenues. For an investment purchase like a new car, being able to engage on an individual level is crucial. It is extremely beneficial to marketers no matter their industry, and applying smart data practices can give them that capability more easily than they might think.

Leave a comment