Increasingly sophisticated data-based marketing tools help ensure in-market car buyers make it to your website and your dealership.  - Illustration by aleksei-veprev via Getty Images

Increasingly sophisticated data-based marketing tools help ensure in-market car buyers make it to your website and your dealership.

Illustration by aleksei-veprev via Getty Images

The need for online data to engage car shoppers is increasing at an exponential rate. It’s the only way to truly understand and analyze today’s shopper.

In a world where shoppers are less loyal and looking for the best deal, having the best data available to identify and engage shoppers with relevant messages before your competition is key.

Read: 4 Ways to Take Advantage of Sub Services

While data is multiplying at an exponential rate, not all data is valuable. Knowing how to identify what is and isn’t valuable is essential to spending your marketing dollars effectively. Ask yourself these three questions to ensure you aren’t missing opportunities:

1. Is Your Data Strategy Hyperfocused on Your Database?

Yes, your existing customer database is valuable. And yes, the first step in leveraging online data is to connect a known shopper to their online behavior. But tools hyperfocused on previous customers miss most of the shoppers in your primary market.

Today’s market requires dealers to make moves outside of and in addition to retention — which means your online data strategy must also be capturing and de-anonymizing data on conquest shoppers.

In short, your online data strategy should fuel your knowledge of new and returning customers.

2. Can You De-anonymize Data Without a Shopper Submitting a Lead Form?

Shoppers no longer expect to have to raise their hand and identify themselves as a shopper. Messages that highlight the product they are searching for may appeal to many shoppers, but a 2018 Dealer Refresh report found fewer than 10% are willing to submit a lead form to tell you what they’re looking for.

If you can only track a new shopper after they submit a lead form, you are missing a majority of the market.

Your online data strategy must be able to merge online shopping with offline identity data without a reliance on lead forms to create a holistic, real-time view of all your in-market shoppers. If your online data strategy can only de-anonymize and track a new shopper after they submit a lead form, you are missing a majority of the market.

You’re also late to the table for influencing their customer journey. Truly relevant marketing messages are most efficient and effective when they’re activated in time to influence the entire customer journey. Anything short of that is likely too little, too late.

3. Are You Influencing Shoppers Before They Visit Your Website?

Timing is key to winning a shopper, especially as the timeframe of shopper journeys rapidly shrinks. Cox Automotive data tells us only 13% of vehicle purchases start at a dealership’s website, and more than 40% of car buyers only visit one dealership before making a purchase.

Today’s car shoppers expect a different experience. They are making their data available for use and are expecting their dealership experience to be improved in return for a more convenient and relevant customer experience.

Your online data strategy must influence those shoppers in the early phases of their journey. You must identify shoppers as they enter the market and track their progress — without requiring the shopper to do all the work.

If your online data strategy is missing the mark in any of these three areas, you are missing opportunities and falling behind your competitors.

Greg Geodakyan is chief product officer at Client Command.

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Originally posted on F&I and Showroom

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