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From the NCM Institute: The Big Deal About Big Data Written by: Russell Grant

Written By: Russell Grant

From speakers at NADA workshops to automotive manufacturers in trade publications to vendor product advertisements online, everyone is talking about how big data is changing the future of marketing in our industry. But most of the GMs I talk to aren’t nearly as concerned with the marketplace and the direction it’s taking, as they are with their business and where it’s going. They want to know two things—how can big data save me money and how can it sell more cars.

Do Better Things or Do Things Better?
Often automotive dealerships are focused on figuring out what is the latest and greatest, but the truth is, they often don’t need to do new things. They need to keep doing the same things better. GMs can use big data to ensure that the decisions they’re making are being driven by metrics instead of emotions and gut feelings. The key is to use big data to become more streamlined and effective, to incorporate it into everyday decisions, into every decision.

Biggest Data
A dealer’s number one source of big data is their DMS—and it’s also the most valuable. It can be used to identify:

• Inactive service customers
• Customers with service into sales opportunities
• Customers who can lower their payments
• Customers coming off warranties
• Customers coming off leases

But identifying customers and opportunities isn’t enough. Dealerships need to use big data to create big opportunities—or work with vendors who can help them do so. The data should serve as the foundation for a dealership’s strategic plan, driving all marketing decisions and directing future courses of action as well.

Dealing with Big Data
What data do you need? When do you need it? How do you get it? These are some of the questions you want to pose to you and your staff—or the vendors you work with. Just remember, data in a vacuum is meaningless. Simply gathering it is not an effective use of your time and money. Data needs to inform your decisions. It should be applied and integrated into your processes, procedures and plans. Especially your marketing.

Once it has been implemented, data should continue to be collected and studied so that it can be used to help determine what’s working and what isn’t; who it’s working with and who it’s not working with; and when it’s working and when it’s not working. Data has the potential to serve as a guide for continuous improvement.

A Measure of Success
When it comes to tracking the performance of your marketing efforts, there are many methods—including Google Analytics and partnering with vendors that offer robust data analytic programs. Keep in mind, data won’t tell you whether you should or should not be marketing, that’s a given. It will tell you how to be more effective by providing the information you need to answer critical questions such as:

• Do you need to beef up your SEM strategy?
• Increase your direct marketing campaigns?
• Work on your online presence and reputation?
• Take a multi-channel approach when communicating with your customers?

In the end, big data can save money and sell more cars, as long as you let it do the driving.

Russell Grant is Vice President of Sales at J&L Marketing and a Guest Expert contributor to the Up To Speed blog. Contact Russell at

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Tags: Best, Data, Dealer, Dealership, Forecasting, General, Grant, Inventory, Management, Marketing, More…Practices, Russell, SEM, SEO, Strategies, Strategy, Systems, Web, software


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