When was the last time you evaluated your communications strategy using your CRM? When was the last time you did an audit to see how much your CRM is contributing to overhead costs? It could be time for a reality check, because today’s data can tell a story that your CRM simply can’t.

Data mining has gained a level of sophistication thought impossible only a few years ago, and unfortunately, that may leave many dealerships using old technology – without even knowing it. If you are using a standard data mining tool from your CRM, it is treating each customer communication exactly the same. You are telling each customer – meaning every customer – when they need to change their oil, or wishing them and their kids happy birthday, or mentioning their anniversary. You get creative and find numerous touchpoints. But it becomes the same old communication going out each and every month.

That was a great angle to take in 2000, when such automation was cutting- edge. But in 2017, you don’t want to be doing this for a number of reasons:

  1. It is wasted mail. Getting these types of generic letters have caused customers to instantly discard them in the trash. You are burning money.
  2. It is extremely expensive. Let’s do the math. Your dealership sells an average of 100 cars a month, and each month your CRM is kicking out some type of letter. If you do this over a five-year rolling period, you’ll be sending out 6,000 letters each month. Considering that postage, printing, paper, envelopes, ink, equipment, employee wages and normal wastage could easily total $3 per letter, now you’re busting out $18,000 each month for letters that mostly are going in the trash.
  3. It is a hidden expense. This massive expense doesn’t show up in your marketing budget, because it is likely allocated to normal overhead (postage, paper, etc.).
  4. This practice actually harms your brand and relationship-building efforts. At first, it’s annoying, but then it turns to outright negativity to continually get outdated and non-applicable mail.

No, this isn’t the NSA spying on you – it is no more complicated than looking at Amazon and seeing how that company knows you, or more accurately, profiles you.

The World of Consumer Profiling

In 2017, through consumer pro ling and special algorithms, it is possible to know specific items that consumers are purchasing. Through this, it is easy to determine their lifestyle, how many kids they have, where they work, their income bracket, how much they travel, their age, their purchasing habits, their transportation preferences, what types of pets they have, what they like to eat, and the list can go on and on.

No, this isn’t the NSA spying on you – it is no more complicated than looking at Amazon and seeing how that company knows you, or more accurately, profiles you.

When you buy or search for anything on Amazon, the company keeps a record of every purchase and everything you’ve looked at, then uses this data to make suggestions and to compile an extensive history. Amazon knows the frequency of purchase, so knows when you’re likely to be back in the market. It doesn’t take long before Amazon knows your tastes and preferences.

Of course, Amazon makes it very easy for you to see items to purchase (that you didn’t even know you wanted), and has mobile apps so you are never further away than your pocket for a potential purchase – and more data gathering! Add to this all the tracking that cookies do via web browsing, and voilà! Welcome to the world of sophisticated algorithms and consumer profiling.

Right Message, Right Customer, Right Time

So how does this apply to today’s car customer? Dealers should communicate with their customers in the same manner as Amazon – that is, deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time. This sophisticated profiling can’t be done from your old CRM.

You need a data mining service, especially since data mining is an industry that is in a continual state of change. The sophistication levels of three years ago don’t hold a candle to what data mining can do today, and is nothing compared to where it will be one year, two years or three years from now. The speed, accuracy and detail will only get better. This means as you target customers with exactly what they need, when they need it, your response will correspondingly get better.

The data mining algorithms developed by AutoAlert know exactly when and what a customer needs, based on service drive information, shopping behavior patterns, and other pro ling methods. Instead of sending a monthly notice out, or a birthday card at the one- year mark to your entire database, it knows what each customer needs, be it 9 months or 13 months or 16 months into a new, used, retail or lease.

It also knows and continues to learn each customer’s preferences for communication – and it likely is not phone or mail. It might be email, text or even a social media messaging channel. So not only are you communicating with the right customer at the right time with the right message, you are also using the right communications channel – which will be the difference between customers visiting the dealership compared to them totally ignoring your touchpoints.

When using a company like AutoAlert, you’ll know when car leases are expiring, when mileage penalties are looming, when warranties are expiring, when service needs to be done, when the customer is ready to trade, what types of cars are being searched for, which customers can swap keys for the same monthly payment, when someone might change to a minivan or a pickup, and much more. Data mining can pinpoint the motivated customer, know the exact reasons behind the motivation, know when to communicate, and give you exactly what to say so you can have the right conversation.

Ask yourself, can your CRM do this? Data can indeed tell you a story about your customer you never knew existed.