Today's Automotive Data Science: The Future Is Now
There is a lot of discussion going on these days regarding how big data will be a benefit to dealerships, manufacturers, and consumers in the future. Some of these claims include:
- Auto manufacturers will be able to tell drivers immediately — and remotely — when they forgot to change their oil or have an oxygen sensor malfunction.
- Drivers will be able respond to an important email or manage their household finances from the comfort of their cars.
- Using vast amounts of data, city planners and engineers will be able to better plan out roadways and traffic flow.
- Custom travel data can be used to deliver marketing messages and assistance such as “nearby Starbucks that you visit has a 20-minute wait, but the store one mile away does not.”
But what about right now?
Good news: The future is here. About 80% of the data dealers need to access and leverage for their business is readily available now.
It’s exciting to visualize what the future of data can do for you, but know that you have choices now that make a direct impact on customer acquisition, trend insights, and your ability to communicate with shoppers to stay relevant.
Marketing with data science
Let’s start with customer acquisition. Historically, dealerships have approached marketing by sourcing their data from their dealer management systems or purchasing expensive marketing lists to focus on customer retention and mass direct mailing, then followed up with newspaper and radios — you get the picture.
Marketing to the masses: The effectiveness of this approach can be slow, budget-consuming, and very hard to track. In short, not much bang for a lot of bucks.
Data science is technology available today that is productive, as well as reliable, for finding and engaging with active buyers. Data science and predictive analytics monitor thousands of information touchpoints, which analyze everything from financial score models and trajectory, discretionary income, vehicle data, brand loyalty, online and offline research behavior, and lifestyle changes. This gives you the ability to develop a strategic marketing program that creates engagement and relevance to buyers’ needs, and keeps you top of mind once they decide to take a test drive.
These touchpoints put emphasis on individuals who are actively in the market to buy. Empowering your marketing and sales team with this insightful information will enable you to streamline your marketing efforts while achieving expense reductions. This ultimately means you’re spending money to be in front of the prospects who have the highest likelihood to convert.
In turn, your marketing is more cost-effective and efficient, and which is particularly relevant to dealers with the current price pressure in the market related to SAAR and used inventories.
Yahoo’s 2017 Consumer Marketing Playbook Study reports that 86% of consumers spend their vehicle research efforts online. In addition, Yahoo reveals that 37% of auto converters prefer to use their mobile devices for research, while 60% are desktop users. Furthermore, 30% of consumers are actively researching, identifying, and budgeting to make a purchase within one year, while 60% are highly active online within three to six months of purchase.
In an era where everyone focuses on getting things done more quickly and accessing information faster, consumers are doing their homework by using all the digital devices available.
Thus you need to develop a communication strategy that keeps your brand and product relevant as they formulate their next steps or buying preferences. Your target marketing strategy should include an arsenal of touchpoints: email, digital display, text messaging, and direct mail. Google reinforces this, saying 92% marketing leaders believe that to truly deliver best-in-class experiences, dealerships [marketers] must be responsible for all customer experiences, including digital and offline.
Consumers are giving you the opportunity to wow them and provide a seamless experience every time they interact with your brand. So, you need to be able to touch them at every point of the sales funnel and their life cycle.
Avoid sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the future to arrive — it’s here and ready for you now. And target marketing powered by data science does not have to be costly or cumbersome to deploy. You will be surprised how easy it is to gain more buyers without the financial stress of traditional mass marketing.
As senior manager of marketing for National Credit Center (NCC), Susan Lovett specializes in brand development, digital marketing strategy, and customer acquisition. A graduate of Ohio State University, Susan has over 13 years of automotive experience with emphasis on dealership marketing, F&I, and fixed operations.