By Anthony Gjonaj, Regional Manager, automotiveMastermind

Engage customers with the right message before they even know they’re in the market

Today’s car shoppers are driven by digital and mobile technology, giving them more choice, more power, and greater expectations. Since so much information is available to consumers online, when they’re ready to purchase, they want to spend far less time in the dealership. They want intuitive customer service and ongoing support, but they barely give their salesperson enough time to learn their name. So, what can dealerships do to win their business? Dealers can leverage predictive analytics to use data about potential buyers to create personalized experiences for when they walk in the door.

The Informed Car Buyer

Customers considering a car purchase spend 60% of their time researching online, leaving behind valuable data trails for dealerships. Leveraging this data allows a dealership to get a head start on the customer’s buying journey with access to what vehicles they search for, how they filter, and what results pique their interest.

Taking that one step further, a predictive analytics strategy helps the sales team to get a leg up on the competition by arming them with critical information about a customer’s vehicle preferences, credit scores, monthly payments, family size, etc., upon first interaction. This information allows dealers to provide a personalized experience to address their customer’s unique preferences.

A data strategy not only aggregates a dealer’s CRM information and incorporates big data such as vehicle registrations and social content but looks at demographic information for their entire market. Simply put, a predictive analytics strategy, using data that’s already available within the dealership and combining it with outsourced information, strengthens the overall customer experience and increase sales.

It’s important to note that consumers are willing to share data to improve their experience. Customers expect and respond to offers customized to their needs. In fact, 63% of customers are open to sharing personal data to allow for a more customized experience. So, this means dealers must evaluate all available data that’s available to the (additional data that customers are willing to share to best customize the buying experience). These customer insights, like knowing why the customer wants to buy and what factors influence their decision, in a world when the customer is armed with all the info while the dealer is left guessing, help level the playing field for the dealer.

The closer that dealers can get with their automated marketing (with personalization being key), the better the chances are of winning their business. Cumulative data helps dealerships gain more insightful and meaningful information about their customers and anticipate their needs – leading to a better overall experience on the showroom floor.

Focus on Customer Experience and Personalization

Although customers spend less time in the showroom, today’s customers care about more than just the product, they care about the entire experience and want to feel valued and familiar. Nearly 72% of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests.

Implementing a predictive data science strategy makes it possible for dealers to create unique customer profiles that anticipate their needs and addresses their reasons to buy. Accompanied by the data that customers are willing to share, dealers are sure to be empowered and able to focus on the customer experience.

In short, data gives dealers the power to create that more personal and trusted experience customers are looking for, even as they spend more time shopping online and less time in-store. However, by building that digital footprint, dealers can gain valuable insights about their customers from the get-go, creating a stronger connection with the customer from the very beginning.

Shift to Customer Loyalty

With more vehicles to choose from, more ways to buy them, and more power in the hands of the customer, dealerships must work harder than ever to retain customer loyalty. Predictions for 2019 U.S. auto sales show a decline for the first time in five years, and more than halfway through the year, analysts are still predicting sales below 17 million units. This is even more reason for dealers to consider a retention marketing strategy to help protect existing customers and conquest new customers. Results show dealers who have implemented a predictive analytics strategy see a 15% increase in retention sales.

Once a dealership harnesses predictive data and is able to focus on the customer experience, it’s then necessary to shift prioritization to customer retention, which can lead to increased profits of 25 to 95%. The key is determining what customers will need once they leave the lot. A predetermined strategy will help encourage them to return to the dealership for service or their next purchase.

When margins tighten, the dealerships that built loyalty through excellent customer experience have a measurable advantage over those waiting for the phone to ring or door to open.

Key Takeways:

  • Today’s car buyers are driven by digital and mobile technology. Dealers should acknowledge that research and aggregate their data to create a personalized, trusted customer experience that also addresses their reasons to buy.
  • Predictive data strategies enable dealers to aggregate the data they already have and turn it into relevant, actionable customer insights.
  • Dealers must anticipate consumer needs and behaviors before they start their journey.
  • A retention strategy will help dealers protect their existing customers and conquest new customers while increasing profits.

Leveraging data allows you to reach customers first through more relevant and personalized customer outreach, which will ultimately help drive sales and gross profit.

Sources:

  1. Car Buyer Journey, 2018, Cox Automotive
  2. Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right, PWC, 2018.
  3. Majority of consumers will only engage with personalized marketing messages,SmarterHQ, April 8, 2019
  4. NADA Forecasts 16.8 Million New-Vehicle Sales in 2019, NADA, December 13, 2018
  5. Crowded Car Lots Spur Discounts, But Auto Sales Keep Slipping, Bloomberg, May 31, 2019
  6. Mastermind vs Non-Mastermind dealer retention sales, 2017 IHS Markit
  7. 4 Key Strategies for Customer Retention, Automotive News

About the Author

Anthony Gjonaj serves as a regional manager at automotiveMastermind, the leading provider of behavior prediction technology and marketing automation technology. AutomotiveMastermind is part of IHS Markit.

Author: Contributing Writer

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