The Consumer Journey Is Your Opportunity to Seize Greater Yield

Original Article by Frank Goldberg for DealerMarketing.

Our evolving cross-channel reality has transformed automotive sales—at once making what we do more complex, but also potentially more abundant.

Ask yourself and your marketing team: Do we have a clear understanding of our entry and growing opportunity in the automotive consumer journey?

The new reality? Today, your typical auto consumer receives a tickler reminder via email from their OEM before or right when it’s about time to re-up to the next year model.

If it hasn’t already, boom, online research now begins in earnest, and then your prospect is over to the OEM site—and a few competitor sites—to gather as much information as possible.

It’s likely their customer journey then takes them to a few local dealer sites to review the immediate perk, priced-in, and financial possibilities—the “money on the hood” details.

A physical lot visit or two might happen, but these days, the third-party publisher sites for hardcore, highly engaged comparison are next. Cars.com, Autoweb (Autobytel), Kelley Blue Book, CARFAX, Autotrader, and the whole lot are high-focus stops on the journey.

Our research shows that activity on these sites, as a key passage in the auto consumer journey, constitutes growing levels of meaningful engagement.

So, what’s the opportunity for greater yield on this journey?

Thanks to the latest cross-channel, data-driven marketing infrastructural improvements and methodologies—not to mention the state of audience data science itself—two groups in this journey have particularly powerful opportunities: the dealer groups themselves and the third-party auto publisher sites.

Dealers, imagine that you could, by using more consumer behavioral knowledge, optimize against this journey and draw more leads.

And third-party folks—what if you could, through the thoughtful handiwork of more targeted data-driven consumer marketing in online channels, bundle and send more leads to your OEMs, exponentially growing your top-line opportunity?

We’ve seen examples of OEMs using data to better leverage specific marketing methods, such as things like proactive, offer-based lead forms to increase sales conversion with tailored monetary offers, or audience score–powered display ads to boost lead volume and tighten cost per lead.

In fact, one OEM, by using proactive lead forms, was able to grow its fill-in rate on traffic moving via its Tier 1 site to its Tier 3 dealer sites by more than 70%.

As for third-party publishers, those who’ve taken the initiative to leverage audience science and score their audiences in order to more effectively target have already started to improve their yield.

In the auto marketing equation, score accumulates based on recency, frequency, duration, models viewed, and more. Proactive lead generation forms, with offers and incentives tuned to very specific audiences, can be delivered.

And time and time again, the publisher is able to deliver a greater volume of qualified leads. With this greater focus on using the data tools available, we’ve seen publishers drive more leads, boost the close rate, effectively sell more cars, and hit higher top-line revenue.

Although the strategic scope and tactical choices may vary, there is a common thread: Marketers are taking advantage of the latest audience data science and tools available.

The auto consumer journey traverses channels and comes with (marketers take note) an expectation for personalization and precise messaging to nurture the close.

Data-driven marketing already is transforming the efficacy of the most progressive auto marketers, whether at the OEM, dealer group, or publisher level. It will only continue to evolve.

No matter where you sit, now is the time to get cozy with the options if you want to benefit. The smarter and more skillful you are in engaging with the new auto consumer journey, the more your prospects and yield can do nothing but improve.

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