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Harnessing the Power of First-Party Data to Thrive

As dealerships, we often want what we don’t have, and data is no exception.

Tony Carroll is the Vice President of Strategic Accounts & Marketing Services for iA American Warranty Group.

GDPR. CCPA. Cookies. ITP. Fingerprinting. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard these acronyms and others like them being discussed in automotive marketing webinars and industry publications. There is no shortage of information out there, and if you absorbed it all, you wouldn’t have time to run your dealership. So why are we hearing so much about this now, and why should you and your dealership care? Keep reading.

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In 2016, The European Union enacted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), a move it deemed an “essential step to strengthen individuals’ fundamental rights in the digital age.” Shortly after that, in 2018, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), cementing the right for consumers to know how their data is collected and/or used and have the ability to delete or opt out. Other states followed, and today we have an ever-evolving conversation around the way businesses can market to consumers in a sustainable, compliant manner. 

These pieces of legislation created a firestorm of activity from Big Tech, which doubled down on its investments in AI, machine learning and privacy-first automation solutions to “model” data and allow dealerships to market to consumers in a compliant, sustainable manner. While this conversation is important, it begs the question: What about the customers already doing business with us?

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As dealerships, we often want what we don’t have, and data is no exception. As an industry, we spend significant resources on data. We yearn for access to the walled gardens of Facebook, Instagram and Google so that we too can harness the power of intent or reach those magical targeted audiences. Third-party data providers often fight over dealerships’ budgets, touting their data as superior and raking in hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars per year from dealerships in their quest to send direct mail (yikes), email or other communications to prospective shoppers. Yet resting under a dealership’s nose lies what those Big Tech behemoths don’t have: first-party data. Dealers own the customer relationship. They know when customers need an oil change, a transmission flush, tire rotation, match up with a recent OEM purchase incentive (like a lease pull ahead) or are in an equity position in their trade. 

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If you want to thrive in today’s ecosystem (and more importantly, tomorrow’s), ask yourself these questions:
1. How am I going to market with my first-party data? 
2. Who are my partners (not vendors) in this journey, and have they been vetted by my OEM? 
3. Are we at risk working with any partners who claim to leverage “workarounds” like fingerprinting or nefarious tactics to market to customers? 
4. What equity mining tool am I using? How is my team leveraging this tool, and what does the support structure look like from my partner? Am I using this tool to the fullest and maximizing fixed absorption during this unprecedented inventory shortage?

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