I recently attended the 2011 Ignite Dealer Summit in Minnesota and was fortunate to hear a presentation by Jason Ezell, President and Co-Founder, Dataium LLC.
Jason discussed the benefits that dealers can realize today from business intelligence tools based on consumer shopping behavior on the Internet.
The level of detail of each Internet consumer varies based on Dataium’s relationship with the websites the consumer visits. Dataium has partnered with OEM’s, dealers, social media platforms, and automotive website providers to place their tracking code on their websites.
Google on the other hand provides free data on “assisting websites” as part of Google Analytics Multi Channel Sales Funnels, which I will discuss in greater detail in a minute. The data that Google Analytics would provide is at a basic level, like “consumer A” visited YouTube and then Craigslist prior to hitting a dealer website. The software can then help you define the top Conversion Paths taken by consumers which is very valuable information for prioritizing your advertising investments.
The Dataium code is designed to identify and track consumer behavior at a higher level of detail. Dataium tracking would know which specific pages on a website were viewed. Tapping this data to create automated actionable business rules in a dealer’s CRM system will change the face of sale sales, service, and digital marketing.
Recovering Leads In Your CRM System
One application of cloud based business intelligence tools I considered was helping dealers recover value in the thousands of leads that their sales staff have marked “unworkable” or “dead” in their CRM system. This is a major CRM challenge for dealer principals since their BDC has such power over marking leads.
Each month dealers receive new leads to work directly from their website or through 3rd party providers. I don’t have to remind dealers that sales professionals love to cherry pick leads. Consumer leads that are past their “prime” are left alone for more promising, current month leads.
If human labor was not involved, wouldn’t it be powerful to be notified that when your “unworkable consumers” are back online shopping for a car somewhere else?
How Big Is The Potential Network?
Imagine if this network of websites included Autotrader.com, KBB.com, Cars.com, Ebay.com, Edmunds.com, Motortrend.com, OEM websites, automotive chat communities, and website that could provide actionable data like banking or credit websites.
Imagine a day when your sales team is notified that former customer Ms. Jones, that was marked unworkable in your CRM, took 3 minutes to view the product pages for a 2012 Jeep Wrangler on Jeep.com today. Imagine how the sales process will change if the notification also reported that Ms. Jones had also visited Autotrader.com today and viewed nine Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) on 2010 and 2011 used Jeep Wrangler.
What would your chance of reconnecting with this in-market shopper prior to this new type of automated tracking and business intelligence tools? Slim to none.
Imagine the power of a phone call that comes from your sales team, triggered by this data, that starts with, “Ms. Jones, I know you contacted our dealership a few months back about a Jeep and I was just calling you back to see if you are still in the market and if we can assist you?”
Smart Data Warehousing Powers Dataium Model
The key to making this concept work is to connect thousands of websites that collect consumer information. As consumers submit lead forms, their IP address is associated with a data record. Most lead forms have basic contact information, phone numbers and email addresses.
If you have access to enough consumer data you can start matching this data back to consumer records and activity on other websites.
In addition to lead forms, cookies left on the consumer’s browser can provide websites with a rich data stream of which websites the consumer previously visited. This concept creates a data warehouse that will change the face of online sales. Read ahead and let’s see how this may play out.
Changing The Costs Of Customer Engagement and Retention
Dealers can’t afford to call their aged leads with the hope they will find the 2-3% of the list that are still in the market for a car. Dealers can’t afford to call their existing customers back every month asking if they are in the market for a car.
The day is quickly coming when dealers will be notified when their customers and prospects are engaging in automotive shopping behavior. This alert will allow them to insert their business back into the sales cycle.
Automotive sales professionals attempt a timely and compelling response to a consumer who submits a lead form on their website. Imagine the quality of initial engagement that could be achieved if the lead came with the consumer’s previous online shopping behavior.
In the near future, a lead coming into the CRM system will include rich data. For example, it could report that the consumer had visited Chevrolet.com and looked at a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado. It could inform the dealer that the same consumer visited Kelly Blue Book and requested a trade-in estimate for a 2003 Silverado.
Would you change the way you initially greeted a consumer if a richer dataset was available? I bet all dealers would shout affirmatively: yes!
To some degree it is here today and greater advances will be announced in the coming years. Dataium co-founder Jason Ezell stated that approximately 5,000 dealers have their tracking code installed on their websites.
Although he did not include all the data partners in the Dataium network, his model immediately triggered a thought about Autotrader.com and their recent acquisitions. Could they build a powerful competing business intelligence model exclusive to their customers?
The Future of Automotive Digital Marketing
As automotive websites become standardized and commoditized by OEM regulations, it will be more important for dealers to have a rich set of business intelligence tools and automated CRM that assist them with communicating with consumers more effectively.
A well designed website with a compliant SEO structure and the ability to easily update photos, specials, and content will be the norm and no longer cutting edge. This year, the number of website platforms that are Google SEO compliant have significantly increased. Dealers have demanded better websites and the vendors have responded, but as you will read, that conversation is last year’s news.
Companies who offer only website platforms to dealers should take note of the massive changes that are coming. I predict more consolidation will occur in 2012, which will narrow the field of companies providing websites to dealers. Reason will be simple. Data analytics and smarter CRM processes will be the key focus for car dealers and not the shiny object of a “compliant” website.
The Appeal of OEM Website Contracts
I finally understand why companies like Cobalt, ClickMotive, and Dealer.com are so motivated to obtain long term OEM website contracts that mandate their technology for franchise dealers. These contracts enabled the contracted companies to offer business intelligence tools that the OEM’s could use to measure and compare dealers and understand consumer online shopping behavior.
The unique advantage that OEM platform providers have is that they can track on-site inventory searches, page views, and see which paths led to a form being submitted or a call being made. The internal site data and lead tracking is not available to outside analytics companies like Google.
Having access to data across a network of thousands of individual OEM dealer websites is powerful. Access to OEM franchise data is not golden ticket it once was. The real win for vendors and dealers will come from aggregated data from dealer websites and third party sites that influence automotive sales and service decisions.
The automotive industry in the coming years will be extremely focused on developing alerts and CRM event triggers during the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Google defines ZMOT as any websites that consumers visit prior to contacting a dealer that influence their buying decision are included in the ZMOT.
The second part of this article will discuss the players that may be seeking to claim bragging rights to being the first to deliver a rich set of data and business processes for dealer CRM systems based on ZMOT behaviors.
Is there a competitor lurking in the shadows that is ready to take a bit out of Dataium’s lunch? Maybe…but that will have to wait for Part II of this article.