The automotive industry spends more than $35.5 billion in advertising, making it the second-largest advertising category in the U.S. Today’s consumers, however, are paying less attention to bulk advertising and mass messaging, and are more inclined to respond to a message based on their personal interests and online behaviors.
True, traditional media such as television still reaches huge audiences and is great for brand building, but truly effective customer acquisition only occurs when you can reach prospects and customers with highly targeted messages and offers. It’s even better when these consumers are actively in-market and ready to purchase.
Here are three ways you can find in-market car shoppers.
1. In-market social signaling
As you are probably aware, dealers can no longer avoid social media. With today’s socially savvy consumer researching cars online before even stepping into a dealership, having a strong social presence is key. Beyond just a strong website presence, connect with your customers and prospects through social sites such as Facebook by offering contests for free oil changes or car washes, introducing new team members, or encouraging followers with rewards.
Of course, you can’t reach all your social customers and prospects by simply hoping they will come visit your social sites to interact with you. There are thousands of conversations taking place every day on social platforms—people talking about your business and competitors, or asking their peers for recommendations.
Although you can’t monitor each of these conversations, a Data as a Solution (DaaS) provider can source these social conversations, providing in-market consumers to you on a daily basis. This social data can also be linked and associated with a consumer’s name and address, ensuring you are targeting just the right people within a certain radius of your dealership.
2. Life event changes
This is nothing new to dealers: Purchasing a car is often triggered by life event changes. For example, changes in employment—either taking a new job or retirement—often motivate a new car purchase. A child going to college, a move to the suburbs, an increase in income, and a growing family all increase the likelihood of a new car purchase.
In regard to first-time buyers, a 2014 study by Deloitte reports that family need rated as the top trigger for an automotive purchase decision, and is eight times more important as a trigger than a better brand image.
A 2014 report by Cars.com notes additional triggers to consider are age and income. The report found that households earning $75,000 or more are significantly more likely to purchase because of a vehicle milestone or routine upgrade. Households earning less than $75,000 are more likely to purchase because of a life change or being “out” a vehicle.
Discovering these purchase triggers begins with a good source of auto prospect data. For example, an auto data provider can provide details about customers, such as:
- Exact make and model of current vehicle being driven
- Black Book value of car they currently drive
- New movers to a specific area
- Other demographic selections such as income, ethnicity, hobbies, and children
When this data is combined with real-time behavioral data and life event triggers sourced through DaaS, brands can align themselves with in-market auto consumers on their journey to purchase.
3. Follow the Car strategies
By looking downstream for ways to maximize customer and vehicle value, many dealers are beginning to recognize the value in a concept called “Follow the Car,” which focuses on third-party data sources to track a vehicle’s journey as it passes from owner to owner.
Say you sold a particular car initially, performed regular service on it, then it was sold to someone else, and you want to bring it back in for service. By utilizing Follow the Car principles, a dealer can identify the new owner of the vehicle and continue cultivating revenue after the initial sale is made.
When combined with data analytic tools to track the vehicle’s service history, owners can be contacted about maintenance before they even realize there is a need. This keeps your brand front of mind for the consumer, which ultimately increases the likelihood of preventative care and increased revenue for your dealership.
In the world of big data, auto dealership market trends are quickly changing. Data and technology applications provide many new ways to reach current customers, obtain new ones, and market to the consumers most likely to make a purchase today.
Kelly Idol is the senior vice president of sales at Relevate Auto, provider of the industry-leading customer engagement, lead generation, and business intelligence tools. She has more than 30 years of experience developing custom-fit data solutions that turn data into revenue-boosting marketing solutions.