Industry News

Big Data and the Automotive Industry

Large-scale data sets, predictive analytics, massive figures and complex equations…

For some dealers, understanding marketing and utilizing big data can be complex and overwhelming. Let’s face it: we are not statisticians, engineers or mathematicians. For the most part, we are sales people, accountants, service advisors and techs who have grown our way into management and or ownership somewhere along the way. Big data can be scary and so is the “fear or the unknown.”

Big numbers, big data don’t need to intimidate you – they will help you and your business unlock your future potential and provide valuable business insight. As we venture into the most robust information age ever, this couldn’t be more-true as it pertains to rapidly changing marketing and advertising.

Yellow pages and print are all but dead. Cable and TV ads? Except for live sporting events and the news those mediums are rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns. And if you’re like me, you DVR these and other programs to fast forward past the ads, don’t you? Our kids (millennials) rarely even watch TV/Cable. They choose Netflix, YouTube and other mediums. Radio? Which one? XM / Sirius / Pandora or over the air?

Let’s face it – third party providers, like True Car, are branding themselves and not you. This should really concern us, if it doesn’t flat out scare you already! The third party folks will assist any prospects by sending a coupon and pricing to the “their” customer for three to five dealers. Candidly, they don’t care if it’s your dealership or the other dealership. The third party folks want only fee income from you, but what they really want is to totally control and “OWN YOUR CUSTOMER”. You pay the floorplan on the inventory, have all the risk and fixed expense and they sell your inventory and charge you to do it!

Today is where future auto industry leaders will learn to use analytics to transform their organizations.

First: we must start to deliver a one-to-one message to smart phones, pc’s and other devices. One-to-one means you will need to know specifics about the customer you are targeting and then tailor and personalize that message to them. One-to-one also means you must know exactly who the visitor is, and what their name, address and IP addresses are. Once you know that you can personalize the message. One to one marketing IS NOT the banner ad or retargeting to an anonymous shopper.

Second: once we know who the customer is specifically, we really need to understand where the customer is in the buying cycle then deliver a message relevant to their stage. The current buzz word about this customer buying cycle is what is known as THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY.

The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.


Journey marketing simply is coupling big data and analytics with a personal message and knowing exactly where a customer/prospect is in the buying cycle. The technology and algorithms are now so robust they can even tell us a client is in the market before the customer even knows they are. 2-3% of Americans will buy a car each month, but traditional ads go after 100% of the audience. Wouldn’t a better use of your “ad spend” be directed at the 2-3% and wouldn’t that really increase your ROI? Big data, analytics, mapping and technology coupled with journey marketing will help your business and eventually force dealers to reevaluate your “ad spend” and ROI on those precious dollars. This real business issue for the Auto Dealers today is to understand the implications of big data, analytics, mapping and journey as it isn’t going away anytime soon. Journey marketing is primarily being done today by fortune 500 companies and less than 1% of dealerships are anywhere close to this solution. However, the solution does exist! Your marketing today can create a huge competitive advantage for both today and tomorrow.

Chuck Scalies

Vice President and Head Coach

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