The car buying process has shifted drastically over the past few years. While we’re not talking about marketing Google’s self-driving cars quite yet, according to Google the average car shopper today makes just two dealership visits in search for a car. Consumers have access to more information and resources that aid them in their decision-making process, making visiting the dealership one of the last steps in the purchase process. To sustain loyalty in a low-frequency marketplace, automotive marketers must shift their mindset towards building customer trust and maintaining customer engagement through the entire ownership lifecycle. But there’s a lot for automotive marketers to consider.
How can you gain insight into the preferences of consumers, including the features they prefer in a car along with the manufacturer and model? Data plays a key role in helping automotive brands better understand not only which consumers are in the market for a new car, truck, SUV or crossover but their feature preferences as well. These insights can also help determine post-sales opportunities, like service acquisition to further drive customer loyalty after the initial sale.
Sustaining loyalty in a low-frequency marketplace
Service plans are one area of opportunity for automotive marketers. Engaging customers in service plans starts at the time of purchase. For example, we’re seeing several brands such as Honda, Lexus and Nissan include a service package as part of the sales deal of the car (i.e. free oil changes for the first six months). Additionally, a handful of brands are developing loyalty programs that are tied to service. For example, the more times a customer brings their car to the dealer for service, the more points they earn in dollar discounts. Engaging customers at the initial sale is important to extend their customer lifetime value as part of a long-term service acquisition strategy. If customers regularly come to you for their routine service needs, when a big ticket item (like brakes, tires, etc.) is needed, your customers will more likely think of your brand for service.
Marketers can leverage powerful data assets such as Epsilon’s TotalSource Plus™, which profiles consumers along many dimensions (demographics, lifestyles, etc.) including automotive. With over 1,000 attributes stored in Epsilon’s automotive data target set, you can glean insights into who consumers are and develop a clear understanding of their preferences. Having access to this wealth of information allows marketers to understand the features that consumers are looking for in a vehicle and what else is parked in their garages. Then, you can customize campaigns and focus on the features of interest to specific consumer groups. For example, data assets can be leveraged to build look alike models, which can then be deployed to identify customers who are ranked high by the model. These models help identify who you should target for customer acquisition.
Beyond customer acquisition, effectively managing customer data is the key to ensuring your customer relationship cycle works. Data insights are the fuel to your marketing program’s success and help drive the customer relationship. Consumers establish a ‘relationship’ with their car, and therefore the brand they choose to drive. Make sure you create a relationship with your customers that extends beyond the vehicle purchase. It can result in lifetime loyalty to your brand.