Leveraging Data from Your CRM System to Boost Sales

When leveraged and properly integrated into a dealer’s marketing programs, CRM systems can be a formidable tool to attract and retain customers.

Chances are your dealership has a CRM system in place to track leads, deals in process and service interactions. The data in that system is a gold mine for marketing. Are you leveraging it as much as you can? Here are some things to consider:

Forget big data—start with small data.

While “Big Data” is the current buzz phrase in marketing circles, in reality dealers don’t need to focus on entire big data sets, they need to focus on distilling their consumer data down to the essentials. Luckily, there are some easy to use tools that make this task much less complicated. You can extract data from your CRM system and use it to drastically improve the accuracy of your marketing. For instance, you could segment prospects based on a variety of demographic, psychographic, and lifestyle attributes, and then create email campaigns featuring vehicles and offers to appeal to each audience type, speaking to exactly what they are in the market for at any given time, such as a new vehicle, an oil change, or a new lease.

If you can’t measure, you can’t manage.

Measuring campaign performance is critical to understanding how to improve future campaigns. Take advantage of CRM system features for measuring and analyzing data to engage with customers effectively. For instance, most CRM systems have built-in tools for measuring email opens and click-throughs. Understanding what types of offers draw the most click-throughs will help you improve your next campaign. Without the ability to measure, you’re flying blind.

Take advantage of packaged modeling tools.

Until recently, analytical models were the domain of data scientists and other types of number crunchers. Not anymore. Now, there are packaged analytical models that you can simply choose from a menu and apply to your own data sets. Examples include propensity to buy, Customer Lifetime Value, and segmentation schemes. These packaged models can save a tremendous amount of time and give your results a huge boost, as campaigns will be more relevant and targeted.

Engage across channels.

To create a seamless consumer experience, brands and dealers need to engage with consumers across multiple channels. What does this mean at a practical level? Go where your customers are: tailor the same campaigns to run across different channels, such as email, mobile, and SMS. Different types of buyers may prefer different channels; experiment to see what works best for your customer segments. The newest CRM systems will even let you set up one campaign that’s then executed across channels according to each customer’s preference—email, mobile, SMS, and even direct mail.

Create a compelling customer experience.

The brands and dealers that have the greatest chance of success in today’s market are the ones that understand that offline experiences, such as the ones offered on a dealership lot, need to be recreated online. The first “Moment Of Truth” (a term coined by Google) now usually occurs not in a brand or dealer’s physical environment, but rather, online from the comfort of a consumer’s home. Customers are increasingly shopping on mobile devices, so if your dealership site does not load properly on their device, you’re likely to lose some potential sales. Conversely, a customer’s mobile and online experiences, if carefully orchestrated and supported by consumer data, can rival his or her offline experience, ensuring that the brand or dealer establishes a differentiated value proposition and draws customers in.

Personalize your customer interactions.

The compelling nature of the customer experience largely depends on how relevant the dialog is to their current state of mind. This is where data can really shine. By using the data in your CRM system in concert with online click data, you can seek to know more about your customers and use that insight to engage with them in new and innovative ways, modulating the engagements based on their online and offline behavior and/or value. This goes far beyond personalizing an email with, “Dear Mike,” to actually personalize all the content, such as featuring vehicles the prospect has expressed interest in, plugging relevant financing offers, and most importantly, predicting what types of information they are looking for at any given time in their lifecycle and serving it to them proactively.

Some parting advice: Don’t worry too much at the beginning about how to leverage all the data you have in your dealership’s CRM system. Be selective, and think about how to best leverage what you have for the biggest impact. Start small, find the right tools, and build on your initial successes. Soon, you’ll be a pro.

Dr. Jennifer Bunner is the director of insight for Outsell. Jennifer is an accomplished marketing analytics professional currently responsible for driving insights to understand and connect meaningfully with consumers online at Outsell using consumer interaction and behavior data.

Dr. Jennifer Bunner


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