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While driving in with the tow guy today(car broke down :(), we chatted about Google. He said an odd thing happened to him while he was surfing for a vehicle. He clicked on xyz's dealership website and browsed around at the various vehicles. He never filled out a form or provided his email. Later, he received information from the dealership about his interest in a vehicle. I asked if he had ever provided perhaps his email in the past because I believe some software out there can pick up on previous customers that are revisting. He replied "no".

Any ideas on how this could have happened?

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Not sure. Was he logged into Google? I would think that if they were doing this (not sure how) that the dealership would be breaking some kind of privacy law. Something about that doesn't seem right...

I am not sure. He did this search back in 2009. However, I think VinSolutions has the ability to retarget customers that are already in a dealership's CRM system through tracking. Anyone know?

As you originally suspected, chances are he was already in the dealership's CRM database from a third party lead provider, which explains why he believes he never previously contacted the dealer. This is one benefit of 3rd party leads... Access to prospective buyers that have not contacted your dealership on a direct basis.

However, I always encourage dealers to clearly specify in email templates used for such automation a reference to the customer's original lead source as a way of eliminating the exact distraction created in the customers mind that you witnessed first hand... ie: "...a while back we received an inquiry from you that was referred to our dealership by Dealix. We noticed that you recently visited our website and wanted to thank you for doing so..."

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