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Data mining—or knowledge discovery—is one of the latest buzz words you hear batted about. The definition varies, depending on who’s doing the talking, but basically it refers to the process of collecting and extracting data, analyzing it from different perspectives, detecting correlations or patterns, and predicting future behaviors based on these findings. With all the attention on data mining, you might think it’s the be-all and end-all. But the truth is, it’s just the beginning. Because it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Lead With Your Best Leads
Data mining starts with collecting data about your customers. Remember, it costs much more to earn new customers—and why should you pay for third party leads when your best leads are already in your system? That’s why I recommend making previous customers, and their data, your primary focus.
Keep in mind, however, that simply having data isn’t enough. What good does it do your dealership to know that customers who own a certain model purchase a new vehicle an average of every 3.9 years? Or customers who opt for a pre-owned vehicle upgrade their car an average of every 5.2 years? This type of data is only beneficial when it informs your dealership’s strategies and processes.
Put Data In The Driver’s Seat
It used to be that, in order to hit their numbers, dealers would come up with special offers and then put money into television ads, radio spots, newspaper ads or direct marketing campaigns. Whatever the chosen advertising methods, a dealership would start with offer to be communicated and then decide which viewers, listeners, readers or customers to target. But in today’s marketplace, that’s no longer a strategically sound model. Data should be driving the marketing efforts, steering decisions such as which customers to target, when to communicate with those customers and what offers to make available.
Go From Data To Deals
For data to be a key component of a dealership’s sales process, it must be incorporated in marketing efforts and outbound calls. Many dealers rely on data mining products to accomplish this, but it is important that they don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all solution. I recommend looking for tools that allow you to maximize your dealership’s potential and take full advantage of its unique customer base.
Your data isn’t generic and your marketing shouldn’t be either. Don’t settle for an owner marketing strategy that amounts to an impersonal template being dumped into bulk mail or blasted via email. You’ve got the data, so make the most of it—or partner with a vendor who can ensure that you do. Your data should be fully integrated into a multi-channel marketing strategy that is personalized to each customer and their current situation, determining not only what you communicate, but also when. And each element of a campaign should interact with the other, strengthening your message and ultimately resulting in more cars sold.
Data is also critical with outbound calls. Sales people are much more effective when they know a customer’s history and what a customer’s future patterns are likely to be based on that history.
Build On Your Success
The end game is to sell more cars and data is the bridge that can get you there. Last month I wrote about a dealership that has successfully made data part of their sales process and incorporated it in their marketing campaigns—and I included a thank you note they received from a customer. So not only is that dealership moving more vehicles, it’s increasing customer satisfaction and strengthening customer relationships for future sales. Plus, customers are telling their families and friends they need to buy their next car from that dealership. According to my data, that’s the kind of marketing results just about every dealer I talk to strives for.