Use Customer Data to Build Better Relationships

For such a small word, the word ‘data’ packs a pretty big punch. Some marketers get overwhelmed when they hear it because they believe it’s complicated. Others give it a bad rap without really understanding the benefits.


Yet it’s difficult to deny the advantages of data-driven marketing:


  • 2 out of 3 leading marketers admit that data-based decisions beat gut instinct
  • 78% of organizations say that data-driven marketing leads to increased conversion and customer acquisition
  • Personalized marketing increases ROI 5X to 8X


Keep in mind that marketing statistics like these are simply a gauge for how strong your customer relationships are—and ultimately, that’s the goal of any marketing strategy.


The face-to-face communications that your employees have with customers during the sales and service process lay the foundation for a relationship. While first impressions and good customer service are important, it’s when the customer is out of sight that your dealership either becomes out of mind, or builds on that foundation.


To build that relationship requires the ability to send personalized, relevant communications to every individual. Sending a monthly email blast or postcards with a single service offer to your entire database is neither personalized nor relevant.


This is where data becomes valuable. Chances are you already have all the data you need to create targeted marketing campaigns. The only question is, are you leveraging that data?


Every customer in your database has a unique profile. Data-driven marketing allows you to analyze each profile and quickly determine what the best message is, the best time to send that message and the best channel(s) to send it through. Of course, these analyses are not done by you as an individual—that would take forever. The entire process can be automated or semi-automated, depending on your preferences.


Let’s review how the right data can help your dealership improve relationships with three sample customers.


Customer Profile “A”


  • Male, aged 35
  • Purchased a vehicle from you 4 years ago
  • Purchased a warranty
  • Owns 2 other vehicles, both the same OEM/brand
  • Actively searching online for 2020 models of the same brand
  • Recently got married
  • Loyal customer to your dealership for service; he has not visited any independent repair facilities (IRFs)
  • Lives 7 miles away from your dealership
  • Consumer spending habits include luxury restaurants, organic supermarkets


Based on this data, we can surmise this customer is a brand enthusiast who always wants the latest, greatest thing out there. He understands the value of OEM parts and service and is already loyal to your dealership for service.


This customer is what we call a “Super Responder” because he is looking for a new vehicle and recently had a life event change (marriage).


Based on his browsing history and previous communications from your dealership, we know he has clicked on Facebook ads and banner ads on his favorite websites.


Now, imagine if this individual received an oil change coupon in the mail from your dealership. Is that relevant? Is it going to put your dealership in consideration for his next purchase?


This customer should immediately be targeted with Facebook and digital ads promoting the 2020 models he has searched for online. This customer is also an ideal target for exclusive car clinics and other VIP events at your dealership. If he is due for service, he’s more likely to respond to an offer with a free loaner vehicle; especially one of those newer models he is checking out online.


Customer Profile “B”


  • Female, aged 27
  • Drives a vehicle that she leased from you 2.5 years ago
  • Did not purchase a warranty
  • Actively searching online for independent repair facilities (IRFs), as well as new models
  • Recently got married and had a baby
  • Last service was with an IRF 4 months ago
  • Recently moved 12 miles away
  • Consumer spending habits include budget restaurants and wholesale supermarkets


This customer understands the value of OEM parts and service and has visited your dealership for some repairs. However, she is also budget-conscious and uses IRFs for oil changes and other routine maintenance.


She is also a “Super Responder” because she is actively searching for a vehicle. She’s also had a baby, so her vehicle needs have changed and safety is likely a priority. However, she has recently moved so you’ll need to make it worth her while to purchase or lease from you again.


This customer is active online and has responded to previous communications sent through email and Instagram. She frequents YouTube and has also clicked on video ads.


This customer needs education as to why it’s best to get her leased vehicle serviced at your dealership. She should also be targeted with an early lease trade-in promotion. Make the 12-mile drive worth her time by offering a free loaner car or shuttle service. Use an omnichannel marketing approach, targeting her with digital and video ads delivered via email, on Facebook and Google properties.


Customer Profile “C”


  • Male; age 63
  • Purchased a vehicle from you one year ago
  • Owns one other vehicle of a different brand
  • Did not purchase a warranty
  • No online presence
  • Unmarried
  • Has visited an IRF for an oil change
  • Lives 4 miles away from the dealership
  • Consumer spending habits show he shops locally and is a convenience shopper


This customer purchased a new car from you a year ago but has not returned for service. The fact he took his vehicle to an IRF for an oil change means that cost and/or proximity are most important to him.


Since he doesn’t have an online presence, it’s best to target this customer with a direct mail piece. From his profile, we know he’s a convenience shopper so create offers that promote convenience, speed and competitive pricing for routine maintenance. Invite him to a car clinic to increase his enthusiasm for your brand.


These examples clearly show how the right offer delivered to the right customer through the right channel at the right time will increase response rates and engagement with your brand.


The ability to leverage data allows you to get to know your customers and connect with them on a personal level, which in turn creates a better customer experience and stronger relationship.

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