To Get Personal, You Need a Personal Touch

A closeup of hands on a computer
Posted on by Jason Cook
Categories: Automotive

Imagine that you had an Ace-in-the-Hole, a hidden advantage over your competitors that positioned your dealership, products and services more favorably in the eyes of prospective customers. Imagine that you could gain insights into the needs and expectations of today’s car-buyers unique to your offerings in order to identify your strengths and weaknesses. What if it would make you the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it came time for a referral. Imagine that; now ask yourself why you have yet to employ the services of an automotive advertising company to create an engaging online presence guaranteeing a higher ROI. Maybe you have. But if so, the question is, are you taking all the right steps?

Whether in-house, or a hired consultant, any marketer worth their salt understands the importance of a personalized experience. Hell, it works both ways. Case in point: we can only assume that they’ve personalized everything from their initial pitch to the manner in which they provide your reporting. Tailoring something to the sensibilities of the audience is the most effective means of courtship and, basically, Marketing 101. Anyone who tells you different is probably looking to do the bare minimum in terms of increasing brand visibility for your dealership.

And such a distinction has never been more important than it is today, because personalization and the creation of a bespoke experience is quickly becoming the base expectation of all consumers. Forged in the e-Commerce transition from ‘brick and mortar’ to ‘click and order’, the expectation speaks to a desire to translate the overall ‘in-store experience’, to online interaction. A dealership is no different. And with more of the due diligence associated car-buying occurring online, at the customer’s time and on the customer’s terms, it’s time to embrace the steps you need to take to “make it about them”.

A recent study by Pure360 indicates that a surprising percentage of retailers (across all industries) still have yet to prioritize personalization. As a result, they are limiting themselves in terms of their ability to engage prospective customers. They are minimizing the audience of any marketing initiatives they might launch. They are failing to put their range of products and services in front of the people in search of them. Bottom-line, they are failing to update their marketing to reflect current methodology.

In fact, it was reported earlier this year that only 7% of businesses considered ‘personalization’ their top priority when designing their online presence. Taking it a step further, only 25% would consider it to be anything approaching a priority. In the report, ‘content and experience management’ earned the top spot, followed by ‘analytics’, ‘audience and data management’ and ‘omnichannel marketing’ respectively. And while those are a crucial part of any marketing strategy, the analytical factors do little to engage customers.  So what if we told you that only 22% of today’s consumers are satisfied with the level of personalization that they are offered? Would you reorder your priorities in order to answer the unanswered demands of 78% of your customer base? More importantly, can you afford not to?

Because personalization can spur a consumer to act on their impulses it can convince a buyer to purchase a product or service they had not originally intended. It can prompt selection of one supplier over another (for the same product or service). It can even help a buyer to rationalize an upsell, or general disregard to pricing. Why? Because simple acts of personalization are crucial in the formation of any relationship.

In a survey of over two-hundred marketers, a staggering 96% confirmed the ability of personalization to further customer relationships, based solely on their own experiences. In fact, 88% were able to confirm a documentable increase in sales as a result of their personalized efforts with a majority also able to document spikes in customer experience ratings.

But we digress. Feeling that we’ve offered a fairly compelling summary of why you need to commit some time, energy and resources in the personalization of your marketing, let’s touch on three areas you should be focusing on.

Build a Language of Loyalty

Whom is your website designed for? Was it designed to emulate that of a dealership that you respect, or possibly a competitor? Is it easily navigable, thorough in the information it provides, and assistive in the tools which it offers? Does it make car-buying easier? Bottom-line: was your website designed with the customer in mind?

Closeup of a smartphone with messaging people above it

Define your social media presence (first off, do you have one?) Do you make use of multiple platforms in order to appeal to a wider and more diverse audience? Do you create content designed to engage your followers? Do you actively engage those followers, communicating with them in order to build a language of loyalty?

The difference between those that do, and those that don’t, is the marketing equivalent of the difference between building friendships or building acquaintances. It comes down to the time, attention and effort that one invests into the relationship. In return, analytics are made available for website traffic and social media engagement. From those analytics you are then able to refine your approach through the creation of customer personas (even sub-personas and multi-personas). In doing so, you are utilizing the tools available to define your audience, their goals and preferences. It also allows you to gauge the dynamics of various campaigns, and target the audiences to which a campaign might prove most effective.

Combined with the strength of your dealership’s culture, these steps can help to ensure that your interaction with customers (whether online, or on the sales floor) are as positive as they can be. And in creating a customer-centric shopping, buying and owning experience you can establish a language of loyalty, setting yourself apart from less conscientious competitors.

Reap the Whirlwind

Still don’t believe us as to the importance (and relative ease) with which you can transform your customer experience by personalizing it? Above, we mention the availability and value of analytics, but it’s worth mentioning that the growth and evolution of artificial intelligence and deep-learning technologies will also play a large part.

Not only is data crucial to determining your own success, and the value of any marketing initiative, but it can serve as the voice of your customer ‘in absentia’. This, effectively, makes it easier to look both backward and forward, determining what your next step should be. This combined with data on industry trends, as well as consumer behavior and intent, could be the most valuable means of strengthening your marketing signal.

The Technology is There

With the accessibility provided by technology, you can make these personalized experienced a central part of your dealerships daily operations. It can fuel performance from the bottom up. Why would any dealership choose to operate as an island, as a self-contained echo chamber oblivious to the voices which should be helping to direct its forward motion?

Understanding that we’ve covered a lot of territory it helps to point out the importance of trusted partner in the continued success of your dealership. One that provides valuable insights as well as the ability to execute them in a manner tailored to your dealership. In this age of technology, it seems penny-wise and pound-foolish to settle for anything less. Especially when that partner could be your Ace-in-the-Hole.