BIG DATA: Are We Using it All Wrong?

By David Metter

Big data is a buzzword that’s been floating around the auto industry for some time now. Every dealership’s DMS is filled with opportunities. Through segmentation, data and equity mining, combined with a little bit of common sense, dealerships can target customers with relevant messaging and see great conversion rates. But what about reaching those people that aren’t your customers, or that aren’t in your database?

The typical answer has been to leverage other sources of data. Think of Facebook. It probably has the single largest repository of consumer information in the world. I’d be willing to bet that the depth of knowledge on any given Facebook user – demographics, behaviors and interests – would put any FBI file to shame. Smart marketers leverage this incredibly large database to market to individuals in their PMA with a high likelihood of purchasing a vehicle in the near future.  

But, what if everything we’ve been doing with demographic targeting has been wrong? 

According to a new blog article by Google, while demographic targeting has its uses, “marketers who try to reach their audiences solely on demographics risk missing more than 70 percent of potential mobile shoppers.” The blog goes on to explain that a customer’s identity is less important than a customer’s intent. The blog offered an example of how many may think that the largest demographic for video game users would be males, ages 18-34. However, if you were a video game (or related) company using demographic data alone to target customers, you’d be missing out on the 69 percent of searchers that aren’t in that group. It was certainly surprising to read that 56 percent of sporting good searchers on mobile were female; 45 percent of home improvement searchers on mobile were women; and 68 percent of skin and body care influencers in the past six months were men.

Essentially, the blog states that consumers aren’t necessarily doing the searching/shopping for themselves. For example, in the baby products category, 40 percent of purchasers live in households without children. Yet, who would think to target homes without children for baby products?

Google advises that businesses research their categories through Google Trends and adjust any marketing strategies accordingly. Identify relevant search terms and ensure that when a consumer searches for information on those terms, your business is present. According to Google’s research, “51 percent of smartphone users have purchased from a company/brand other than the one they intended to, because the information provided was useful.”

Targeting based on intent works well because typically, mobile searchers are very close to the point of purchase -- if not already in the process of purchasing. These are super low funnel consumers. For all you know, they are researching a vehicle, or gathering information, while at the dealership next door, or across the street.

While it is certainly in Google’s best interest to provide this message, it makes complete sense. That doesn’t mean you ignore demographic data in your marketing. It simply means that to take your marketing to the next level, consider incorporating intent-based marketing in the mix. This will help to ensure that you reach the customers you know about, but also the ones you don’t.