big data

Using A Customer Database To Gain & Retain Customers

‘Big Data’. It’s a buzzword we in the automotive direct mail field toss around a lot these days, and likely one you’ve heard thrown at you whenever the conversation turns to marketing. But, Big Data isn’t merely a means of targeting customers more effectively with your direct mail marketing (or any other marketing efforts, for that matter).


Building a customer database that’s full of more data than just names and contact information can also go a long way to helping you keep customers satisfied with your dealership and overall brand.


So, how can you, as an automotive marketer, put this ‘Big Data’ to work? By collecting it, of course. The more you know about what your customers – new and recurring – are looking for, you’re better suited to maximize all of the opportunities to please them.


For example, you can run a survey via a dedicated landing page to mine for data about customers that are already engaged. Customers who click to participate can be immediately identified and funneled through a list of multiple-choice questions that will help you to target them more effectively. Ask them what they most want to see from you in terms of marketing offers. Ask if they want to be contacted by a salesperson and by which modality (email, text, phone, by appointment).


Dealers can also take their customer database and see how it stacks up to local demographics. If you see how your own customer data stacks up against more generic data like geographic brand sales or CarFax/Edmunds/KBB searches, the more opportunistic and effective your marketing efforts can become. Figure out certain identifiers, such as age, marital status, income level, education, that make someone in a more likely customer of your brand, and then look to your database and beyond it to find them. This data can also tell you whom your marketing might be missing.


The more you know about your current demographics, the more you can work to improve your take of the market. Compare total brand sales by zip code or even area code and you can see where you over-perform and where you underperform. Big Data on past sales and likely customers can help you make smarter new car orders and trade in incentives based on likely demand. For example, if you know your customer database well and you can align that with historical sales data, you’ll know precisely whose vehicles you’ll want to target for early lease termination deals, trade-ins and new car offers.


Big Data – that customer database – can’t design campaigns like automotive direct mailers for you. But, it can make you smarter about how and to whom you sell the vehicles on your lot.

Jessica Mitchell

Jessica has been working in the automotive marketing industry since 2005. She has helped dealerships all over the country develop effective marketing strategies to retain their current customers and generate new ones.