In the coming year, dealer principals, general managers, and marketing managers are going to be hearing more and more about the need to use big data—the ability to leverage insights on huge amounts of information across a large period of time to make decisions—at their dealerships.
On one hand, this is quite exciting: The possibilities of big data are endless. For example, large retailers like Target can identify from a customer’s purchases that she is expecting a baby—often well before it is public information, so to speak. This allows these retailers to market appropriate products to their consumers.
On the other hand, big data presents enormous challenges relating to the overall process of acquiring and interpreting data to implement changes and decisions. This is true even though big data has been a part of the automotive industry for years.
For instance, OEMs have used big data to make decisions about their vehicle lineups. Also, more advanced dealer management systems (DMS) and OEM-level marketing operations often leverage big data tools to associate buying personas to different car models.
Nonetheless, when it comes to dealership marketing, the use of big data is still lagging behind other industry verticals like e-commerce and real estate. The challenge of big data for individual dealerships to overcome is accumulating enough data to run the sophisticated queries that Target or OEMs can easily implement.
That said, dealerships are not totally high and dry when it comes to big data. Here’s how your dealership can get around big data’s pain points to catch up with big retailers and OEMs.
By properly structuring and taking advantage of your dealership’s data, you can set it up to gain insight that will help you market more effectively—even if it’s not the level of data the OEMs have at their fingertips. Take advantage of the data pool you have access to, and you’ll be able to stay ahead and make informed business decisions.
To prepare your dealership to leverage big data, you should look to vendors or hire staff members that can help you put a core infrastructure in place. Here are key components of such an infrastructure:
- A clean warehouse for all your marketing data where you can own, access, and export the data as needed. This will create a big data “bucket” for you.
- A repository for your user data that is associated by cookies or other ethical information-gathering methods with the actual users on your website. In other words, this is legally obtained data about your users’ behavior flow and activity, which helps you understand the bucket of data in your warehouse.
- Software vendors that know how to utilize this data for analytics and engagement. Without them, it will be challenging to leverage big data to make more sales.
These components are not impossible to achieve; there are technologies and software in the automotive space that provide the resources for you to build and understand your big data warehouse.
Once you have the data, you should be able to supercharge your marketing campaigns in these ways and more:
- Target emails to specific consumer interests and behaviors.
- Target on-page offers to specific users based on their past behavior.
- Create new campaigns to target new segments of your traffic as new data is fed to the system.
- Leverage inventory insight to know what cars to promote to which demographics in real time on your website.
So, yes, big data is exciting—it provides your dealership with the ability to dig deep into analytics to make informed decisions. You need to know how to dissect these analytics, however, to turn them into smart actions, and to understand that data is sensitive, yet powerful.
Let’s take the automotive industry to the next level with big data.
Doug Pataky is the director of sales at AutoLeadStar. With more than 13 years of experience at leading automotive industry vendors and sales organizations, Doug has consistently led his teams to become top-tier performers. In addition to his field and key account management experience, he’s a 2014 NADA Dealer Academy graduate. Doug brings a science and mathematics background to his approach, making him particularly suited to digital strategy. Contact [email protected] to get in touch.
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