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How data collaboration is helping the automotive industry catch up with customers

For years, car manufacturers have tried to accurately predict when people begin the new car buying process based on siloed data

Like many sectors, the automotive industry has had a difficult year. With stay-at-home orders and national lockdowns in place for much of the last 12 months, purchasing a new car has not been high on the public’s shopping list in 2020, and UK car production dipped to its lowest levels since 1984 as a result.

However, as the UK takes its first hopeful steps towards normality, we are seeing the beginnings of a rebound, with car sales in March 2021 rising for the first time since the summer.

Car manufacturers are re-grouping on marketing strategies to ensure they make the most of the opportunities ahead.

For this sector, digital marketing can pose unique issues. Unlike in other industries such as consumer goods or fashion, when purchasing products can be an everyday activity, most customers purchase a new car every couple of years at most. For car marketplaces like carwow, brand loyalty and retention is a top priority and timing is everything. Targeting an existing customer through digital advertising at the exact point they begin to look for a new vehicle can be the difference between keeping a customer or losing them to a competitor.

For years, car manufacturers have tried to accurately predict when people begin the new car buying process, but they have been making these predictions based on siloed data and, as a result, mistime their marketing outreach.

If these companies are to capitalize on the rebound in car sales now, they need more sophisticated data insights that can provide an overarching picture of existing and potential customer behavior.

One way that car manufacturers can tap into a deeper approach is by creating strategic data partnerships between dealerships and car-buying platforms that hold a wealth of insights into the wider market and customer buying habits.

Pioneering this approach is carwow, an online car marketplace that leverages the LiveRamp Safe Haven platform for data collaboration, enabling car manufacturers to gain more insight into their existing customers and align marketing strategies accordingly.

To illustrate the process, one leading car manufacturer had a theory that their targeting was mistimed, and that they were missing signals from existing customers who were looking to purchase a new vehicle. By connecting their CRM data to insights derived from carwow user engagement in a trusted environment, the car manufacturer discovered that their own database identified only half the number of in-market customers. Furthermore, they found that their prediction models identified auto intenders too late in the purchase cycle as much as 60% of the time, leading to poor customer experiences – for example, sending an email after a purchase had been made from a competitor.

Gaining these invaluable insights is a crucial step for car manufacturers looking to maximize on the rejuvenated engagement of customers, but it is not the only benefit. Such insights can greatly improve targeting for online advertising, identifying relevant audiences that their own dataset could not, and improving website visitor recognition. By connecting advertiser CRM data to visitors browsing on their website, carwow can recognize existing customers that would otherwise be invisible. All this is done through a privacy-safe and secure environment, with no transfer of personal data.

As industries become increasingly digitized, there are some sectors that have already tapped into the possibilities that come with strategic data partnerships. E-commerce and online-only retailers that have undergone major digital transformations in recent years have uncovered massive business opportunities enabled by data collaboration, allowing them to better meet fierce competition head on.

Until last year, the automotive sector had not experienced this urgent push towards digitization. But in this new post-Covid digital and business landscape, it is now imperative for car retailers to follow suit and embrace data-led digital marketing with open arms. In a competitive market, knowing your consumers better will be crucial for retaining valuable customers, and these deep insights are setting up car manufacturers to benefit from the rising post-lockdown demand.