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The words "big data" have been buzzing around the marketing and advertising world for a few years now. Technology has made it possible to do things with data through analysis and proper utilization that weren't very easy a decade ago. It's a good thing, but it's not enough.
In the automotive industry, we see it used for everything from conquest sales to social media promotions. There's nothing wrong with this except for the fact that most in our industry are only seeing the tip of iceberg. Big data is great but the latest advances in technology make it possible to take advantage of both "big data" as well as "better data".
Many dealers are starting to see the benefits of using their internal databases to drive continued business with the dealership. It's great to go out and get new customers but there's a goldmine of opportunity within your existing clientele. Many companies are pushing this through direct mail, email, and other forms of communication, but nearly everyone is missing the opportunities that are created by improving on the data itself.
We have big data. Now, we have to turn it into better data.
For example, there are huge opportunities in appending the data based upon changes in circumstance. Let's say a customer gets married. She's driving the same car and may or may not be living in the same address. Her phone number is probably the same but she now has a different last name. By appending the data based upon the likely scenario that she got married, we can better attend to her needs and send her the right messages to get her back into the dealership.
Another challenge with big data is that it over-categorizes people. Just because the technology is there to put people into categories doesn't mean that it should be done. Dealers should not have service customers and sales customers. They have customers. You should be trying to get those who bought a car from you to also have the car serviced at your dealership. You should be trying to get those who come in for service to also purchase their next vehicle from you. This can be done when you tear down the category walls and tune the messages appropriately to the individuals.
Big data is the past and present. In many ways, it's also still the future, but it can be improved upon in the automotive industry by letting go of some restrictions and focusing on improving the quality of the data itself. Dealers that do this are the ones that will be able to improve their loyalty as well as their bottom line.