Today’s technology allows marketers to have an abundance of data at their fingertips, yet the automotive industry lags in leveraging that data to win shoppers. We’ve all heard the astonishing statistic that 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years.
The 2018 Domo Data Never Sleeps Study estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth by 2020 — that’s a lot of data!
While other industries have flocked to harness this data, automotive dealers have continued to rely on the traditional data strategies that moved the needle in the past but have a lesser effect with shoppers today. Dealers looking for a competitive advantage today must recognize these three key realities of how the data landscape has changed:
1. Holistic Shopper Profiles Are No Longer Optional.
In automotive, a holistic view must include online shopping behavior. Data that creates a holistic profile of a shopper is today’s required currency for marketers.
According to a 2017 Bain Consumer Research Study, the typical car buyer starts online with more than 60% of customers deciding on brand, model, and price before visiting a dealership.
The information dealerships previously gathered in person to influence a shopper towards a sale has increasingly moved online. Understanding a potential customer’s shopping activity, intent to purchase, and preferences requires online data that is shared before they ever reach the dealership.
Data profiles that do not incorporate online behavior fail to offer the precision and effectiveness dealers need to deliver relevant messages to actual in-market shoppers.
2. Anonymous Data Isn’t Cutting It.
The automotive industry isn’t ignoring online data altogether, however dealers are too often settling for anonymous data to fuel their marketing. This anonymous online shopper data is a step in the right direction for the industry, but it is still far from the gold standard of what dealers truly need to be successful.
In a 2017 MediaPost article, writer Chuck Martin concluded that North American consumers have on average 13 internet-connected devices. While anonymous marketing can track indicative shopping behavior by device, it has no way of connecting that behavior across devices to a person. Imagine the opportunities you may be missing by not connecting these devices.
Targeting anonymous data points has an equal chance of targeting a bot as it does an actual human.
Apparently, as stated in a recent New York Magazine article, “studies generally suggest less than 60% of web behavior is human.” Seemingly, targeting anonymous data points has an equal chance of targeting a bot as it does an actual human.
Dealers must be looking for opportunities to connect the trifecta — shopping behavior to devices, devices to actual people, and people to all their devices. This is identity resolution. To incorporate anything less yields a marketing approach that is both inefficient and ineffective.
3. Online Automotive Data Tools Are Not Necessarily Efficient.
Most online data tools in automotive are hyperfocused on connecting anonymous data to shoppers within a dealer’s database.
Yes, this moves dealers toward connecting online and offline data. However, these tools only identify shoppers after they have visited their website and do not track their online activity before that point of the shopper journey. Restricting identity resolution restricted to a dealer’s database misses most shoppers in a market, generating a built-in limitation to gaining a competitive advantage.
Data cannot be an accessory in a dealer’s marketing strategy in today’s digital age — data must be the foundation. A data foundation that ignores online shopping data, settles for anonymous data or limits a dealer’s ability to activate marketing messages to the entire market, or any combination of the three, provides a rocky foundation at best.
Today’s tech empowers dealers to harness online data available for today’s marketers to regain competitive advantage, especially as other industries set the pace and expectations with personalized marketing messages with today’s shoppers.
With the shopping experience moving increasingly online, automotive dealers cannot afford to use data that doesn’t connect them with these valuable active shoppers — their potential customers.
Jonathan Lucenay is the founder and CEO of Client Command.