For automotive marketers, a move to digital means adjusting legacy marketing, sales and service models to a rapidly changing business environment. It comes as no surprise that more and more vehicle buyers are going online to research, review, and even make purchases. In fact, Google/comScore has found that 95% of US vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information, and twice as many start their research online versus at a dealer.
Of course, it’s not enough to just create digital campaigns and hope that they meet the needs of the online portion of the customer’s journey—and then drive them to the dealership for a test drive or purchase. Building a formal digital marketing team, with the right skills and processes, is essential, given that the lion’s share of the customer’s time will be spent online. This is not a place for half-measures.
Once the team is in place, the next step is identifying what information is actually needed, where to source it and how to drive actionable insights. There is a danger of going through the work and expense of casting too wide a net and ending up with extraneous data that won’t help turn tyre kickers into customers. A second risk is lining up the right info, but not doing enough with it. Lastly, data can often be trapped in disparate data silos, making it difficult to have a holistic view of where customers are in their buying journey.
Building a formal digital marketing team, with the right skills and processes, is essential, given that the lion’s share of the customer’s time will be spent online
Once digital marketing has identified the customer data sources—owned media sites, review sites, analyst firms, insurance systems, mobile apps, etc.—the gargantuan task of cleaning and merging the data begins, which is necessary to draw any sort of useful insights. A customer data platform (CDP) can help simplify the unification of all of this information (including online and offline customer records) in the background, enabling one view of every individual buyer and allowing marketing to pinpoint where they are in their customer journey. From there, marketers can start to derive real, business-shifting insights.
What sort of insights? Isuzu’s truck distribution arm in Thailand, Tri Petch Isuzu, dialled their digital programme from zero to 60 by following the path laid out above: building a team, processes and data collection from the ground up to develop digital campaigns that hit record conversion rates.
Analysis can yield valuable insights into what digital marketing tactics should be used, better audience segmentation, and, increasingly, a more personalised relationship with each individual customer
When the company’s research showed that 80% of the truck purchaser’s journey was taking place online, they pulled together data-driven marketing tactics such as digital ads, but realised they needed to learn a lot more about who they were marketing to. To this end, they used the Arm Treasure Data Customer Data Platform to securely collect and organise data, using pre-built connectors and data pipeline management capabilities to save time. In fact, they were up and running and able to start analysing data in less than four months.
The team implemented a business app on the LINE chat service, delivering a survey to prospective buyers. Using the CDP to segment customers by their purchase timeline and the vehicle model they were most interested in, Tri Petch Isuzu focused its digital marketing efforts, offering targeted ads for test drives resulting in a significant 20% conversion rate.
This is just one example of how innovative automotive companies are leveraging data to deliver a more tailored car buying experience. Analysis can yield valuable insights into what digital marketing tactics should be used, better audience segmentation, and, increasingly, a more personalised relationship with each individual customer from first touch, to sales, to service.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Tom Treanor is global head of marketing at Arm Treasure Data, a leading customer data platform (CDP) provider. He writes on topics related to marketing, Martech and customer data. Connect with Tom on Twitter
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