By Jonathan Lucenay, CEO, Client Command
Has your dealership data and marketing strategy been thrown into confusion by any of these statements recently?
“It’s a cookie apocalypse.”
“Digital marketing won’t survive the cookie crumble.”
Any data and digital marketing company worth its salt has seen this day — where consumer privacy moves into the driver’s seat — coming. Safari and Firefox cut ties with third-party cookies years ago. Now, that the day is in sight (early 2022) when the big guy (Chrome) will follow suit, many dealers are starting to pay attention. Add in the full rollout of California’s Consumer Privacy Act, and (non-California) dealers are now anticipating when similar legislation will expand to them.
The trouble is not that dealers are waking up to this reality. It’s that this heightened awareness is surrounded by rhetoric which inflates what is a necessary sense of urgency.
Urgency is fine, but it’s important we don’t confuse urgency with panic.
I can understand how a dealer who doesn’t think about this every day might be caught in the space in between. People like me, who are fixated on helping dealers maximize opportunities with consumers through online data and digital marketing, have been thinking about and planning for this for years. We have been looking ahead, proactively addressing privacy and building solutions for digital advertising, targeting, and attribution on foundations that do not crumble when the cookie does.
The truth is the deprecation of the cookie does require changes for your dealership, and you DO need to make preparations. But we are not facing an apocalypse, as some vendors might say.
There is more to cover on this topic than one article can address, but you must start somewhere.
So, let’s back away from the panic button and walk through three steps your dealership can take right now.
3 Steps Your Dealership Can Take Right Now
STEP 1: Push the accelerator on your first-party data collection, specifically email addresses.
I’m not going to hit you with tech speak, but I am happy to unpack it with you one on one. Suffice it to say, there are ways to identify consumers for 1:1 marketing that are derived from an email address. At Client Command, we proactively built a solution that is not reliant on the 3rd party cookie to be effective in the digital space. The reality is most dealerships have been relying on cookies for their ability to re-target online shoppers and are now playing catch-up. We’ll dig into partners in a minute, but for now, let’s stay focused.
What’s a major thing you can be doing? Double down on email. I know it’s a challenge getting sales teams and service advisors to input data into the CRM. However, the cost of updating those email addresses goes up every day. Every year, one in three people will change their email address.
Not only that, most consumers have more than three email addresses at any one time. These are data connection points, which will drive efficiency when the cookie crumbles. And I don’t have to tell you that 30% or more of DMS or CRM data is inaccurate or incomplete.
Moral of the story: If you are not already, build systems (and incentives) for your teams to update and gather as many current email addresses for your customers as possible.
STEP 2: Get a partner entrenched in data privacy and identity resolution.
The rate of change in data privacy regulations and how providers are responding is consistently accelerating. This is bad news for any marketing, advertising, or data vendor with solutions that are 100% reliant on third-party data. It is especially concerning for vendors who are relying on third-party data to reach those who have never done business with your dealership.
Why? Their solutions were built to meet a standard for a specific time in history and they are likely scrambling to figure out what’s next.
Sounds easy to fix, right? This is where it gets muddy. Not all vendors are transparent about the data they use and where it is sourced.
You must dig in and understand if they use first-party data. And if the answer is yes, you must find out if that first-party data comes exclusively from your dealership. If that answer is also yes, we’ll get to that in the next section.
If they have other first-party data sources, that’s good news for you.
Partners entrenched in data privacy and identity resolution have been proactively working towards today’s reality for years. These are partners equipped to serve you and a consumer’s best interest now — and they are already innovating to remain ahead of the changing landscape.
STEP 3: Resist the urge to make dramatic overhauls of your digital spend.
Chances are, you are working with at least one marketing vendor who is relying 100% on tactics that utilize data provided by third-party cookies. Put your attention here. Start by asking each of your vendors and assessing each of your tactics through the lens – what data makes this work? If the marketing is dependent on third-party cookie data to be effective, begin to wean yourself off now. Direct that investment towards partners and digital strategies that are using first-party data.
If you feel as though we barely scratched the surface of the conversation, you are right. And I agree. My goal here is to offer a starting line for those trying to discern where to start. Saying goodbye to the third-party cookie does require changes for your dealership. The key is to not hit the panic button but take measured and intentional steps now. After all, every day you wait, you fall farther behind in your ability to shape your dealership’s future.
About the Author
Jonathan Lucenay is the founder and CEO of Client Command. Through the Active Shopper Network®, Client Command has a proven track record helping car dealerships leverage online behavioral data to deliver marketing solutions that boost gross profit and ROI.