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Stop Marketing to Ghosts! The Importance of Cleaning House

In a world filled with companies vying for consumer attention, many marketing agencies advise that making more noise is an efficient strategy.

Think about many dealerships’ sales strategies in handling customers who have actually expressed interest in a vehicle. Many dealerships employ templates and strategies designed to bombard consumers for the first week or so with a continuous flow of phone calls and e-mails hoping to beat their competitors to the punch. The problem is that, in many cases, the messages they are delivering have no useful information. There is no difference in a digital marketing strategy.

To achieve success in digital marketing, a business must be sending relevant and targeted messages to groups of people most likely to be interested in the offer. To do that, a dealership needs to take advantage of their database – whether it’s the DMS or CRM – and actually analyze the data, and drill down to the customers that are most likely to convert.

The problem is that many dealers don’t take the time to make sure that the data in their system is actually good.

As we work with clients, we see databases so mired in useless or outdated information that simply taking the database and using it in a raw format to market not only wastes money but it’s also ineffective. Duplicated records are being created at many touch points – in sales, service and parts. People move. Their phone numbers change. They change employers that could affect their e-mail addresses. Perhaps a husband and wife both exist with the same contact information.  Many vendors, however, simply take your list and send your message – whether that’s via e-mail or direct mail – to the contact information you provide. The real problem lies in the fact that not only is this costing you money; in many cases it never reaches the customer. In addition, it could be serving to actually annoy your customers by delivering the same message multiple times.

Many dealerships employ policies of non-duplication and collecting full and complete information from customers, but not many enforce it.

They rely on their CRM to catch the duplication and prevent it. It’s much too easy, however, for a salesperson to bypass this duplication by simply entering different information – whether it’s intentional or not. Multiple customer IDs for the same person in a DMS are not uncommon. There are many opportunities in which duplicated or erroneous information can be introduced into a dealer’s database yet there isn’t typically anybody at the dealership with the time and skillset to analyze and prevent this. How many times have you seen a sold vehicle RDR’d with a fake e-mail address simply because nobody bothered to collect the information?

Whether you are doing your own digital marketing or partnering with a vendor, it’s imperative that the information you are using is accurate.

Sending your message to tens of thousands of people in an e-mail or direct mail campaign to bad email or physical addresses accomplishes nothing but costing you more money and setting your campaign up for failure.

Dealers should make sure that their CRMs are current with the most up-to-date information possible and avoid duplication.

By doing this, they will see reduced marketing expenses and higher conversions. Accompanied by highly targeted campaigns, not only will dealers see higher conversions and more ROI from their marketing efforts but they will also be able to ensure that their message is being delivered to the right people at the right time.

Simply thinking about achieving this goal may deter dealers from tackling it but I assure you that it will cost dealers more money to not do it then they realize. That one mailer that didn’t get delivered could cost you a sale. How many of those do you want to miss?

The Timing Is Right

In our 15 years of consulting on this topic, we’ve stressed the importance of data cleansing and hygiene many times. Our industry, however, is continuously seeing changes as a younger generation begins to take the reins at many dealerships. While this generational shift is seeing an increase in leaders who recognize the importance of digital marketing in their growth strategies, it’s important they recognize that, not unlike a house, their digital marketing is only as strong as the foundation it is built upon.

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Tags: CRM, DMS, analytics, automotive, cleaning, data, dealerships, effective, hygiene, marketing, More…revenue, targeted

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Comment by Brian Bennington on May 14, 2014 at 6:14pm

Hey Misti, Your post really "hits home" to me, as basic dealers data is critical to the Relationship Centered Marketing we've done for a small group of dealer clients for over 20 years.  As an illustration to how goofy some of what we've seen being done is, let me relate a recent incident we discovered when we were exploring working for a mid-sized dealer group here in SoCal.  Having their BMW store's dedicated IT person pull customer data on a particular rep, we noted the following:

(1.)  There was no title or gender ID for their customers.  This eliminates being able to use a title to address customers in electronic or hardcopy correspondence, as even with the custom manual algorithm we've developed to ID titles, we can still get it wrong, especially with the ethnic diversity in our area where many names are unisex.  And, there's nothing quite as "endearing" as addressing a "Dr." as a Mr. or Ms.  (Fault: The title field wasn't a mandatory prompt.)  With a gender field, you're a little closer to a solution, but not as good as having a confirmed-by-the fin mgr. (who spends time directly in front of the customer) title.

(2.) Next, we noticed there wasn't any co-buyer info, and when we asked the IT person about it, he said "it was in the data somewhere, but he didn't know where."  This increases the possibilities of relationship-damaging contacts.  (Example: The wife decides on a BMW, shops the store, makes the buying decision and drives the car, but the contacts are only directed to the husband, who was just there to sign papers.  It shows a flagrant disregard for “married/partner” relationships.

Then, when we pointed it out to management, their eyes "glazed over"!  This is extremely basic customer info, and if you don't think it's an industry wide problem, just ask a dealer to see a sample of the data they collect in their finance dept. and ask if "customer title" is a mandatory prompt.

By the way, Misti, when I read your bio which I always do when I read a post, I noticed that below your picture, you ID'd your company as "J&L Marketing, Inc.", but in your bio it was J&L Marketing.  Why the difference?

 

   

Comment by Michael Bilson on May 6, 2014 at 8:52am

Using your CRM tool correctly seems to be a common challenge for most dealerships these days.  Ensuring that email addresses are collected from walk in and phone in customers is also key to being able to market effectively.  If you are using a third party vendor for your marketing efforts be sure to use one that will parse out duplicates and bad leads.  Great article and right on target as always.  Thanks Misti.

Comment by Ralph Bradford on May 6, 2014 at 7:12am

We're in the process of cleaning house right now

Comment by Alexander Lau on May 6, 2014 at 6:30am

Surely, why not...? It goes back to strategy and management. How powerful are the tools at hand and the individuals at the helm. Agreed, Ralph.

Comment by Stephanie Young on May 6, 2014 at 6:26am

So can a small business create data integrity and hygiene?

Comment by Alexander Lau on May 6, 2014 at 6:21am

Stop marketing to ghosts, you say...? Ohhhh right, Facebook. LOL! Good article nonetheless. I just barked on how Facebook's Power Editor is a bit of crap as well. If you've data that doesn't match up / cross-reference with their data, what good is it, even though it's probably the same people.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 6, 2014 at 5:09am

Misti, thank you for your post... Data Hygiene may not be the sexiest of marketing subjects, but it is critically important and a key ingredient to most targeted dealership advertising campaigns. As an industry, we have been fighting for data integrity ever since the first DMS and CRM systems came to market... To some extent it has been an uphill battle, but I agree with you... The timing may be right today, more than ever before for dealers to embrace data integrity as a key operational function of their dealership teams.

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