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Start Using the Right Data to Target Customers

Data-as-a-service companies are enabling brands to engage with people exactly when they are shopping: to understand their behavior, their desires and to be able to make the right offer at the right time, in real time.


Brian Epro is the vice president of automotive for Jornaya.

Relying solely on demographic and psychographic data to target your marketing is expensive, inefficient and very costly in terms of waste and questionable effectiveness. It’s also a leftover from a previous era where this type of data was the best that was available. Not anymore.

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Now, data-as-a-service companies are enabling brands to engage with people exactly when they are shopping: to understand their behavior, their desires and to be able to make the right offer at the right time, in real time.

Behavioral data is superior — and complementary — to traditional data sources. For years, database marketing has come down to a magical algorithm where each additional datapoint theoretically increased the likelihood that a particular person was the right person to buy your product. He had the right demographics, drove the right car, listened to the right music, etc. 

These separate data points were combined to create a “propensity to buy score.” The problem is, even today, that score is more often wrong than right. 

Putting those magical algorithms aside for a moment, what if you were able to understand and respond to the actual behavior of your buying public without having to resort to guesswork? A new wave of data companies is making that possible.

Pain Points for Auto Marketers

Dealers spend way too much time chasing consumers and leads that don’t respond and never had any intention of responding in the first place. This often causes to dealers to ignore leads because they have preconceived notions of the quality of the lead. The problem occurs when someone who genuinely intends to buy a car submits a lead: How can a dealer know who has high intent versus who is a tire kicker?


Here’s the thing: A lot of “bad” leads are better classified as “not ready.” Until recently, there’s been no way of knowing if a “cold” lead has started shopping again. However, the technology exists today to allow OEMs and their dealers to know when a previously “cold” lead has suddenly warmed up.

Deeper Understanding

Understanding the consumers’ level of intent at a given moment, and engaging with them accordingly, will greatly impact the success of your sales strategy. Each consumer is different and should be treated as an individual. If they’re early in their auto purchase journey, the information they seek is different than a consumer who is prepared to test drive.

Access to behavioral data signaling where the consumer is in their shopping journey has moved the top of the funnel even higher. In light of the average car buying journey taking three to four months, what could you do if you knew one of your customers was shopping for her next car in the first week? Imagine being able to communicate with a potential customer months before your competitors can.

Right Message, Right Time 

It’s a common phrase, but it doesn’t make it any less relevant today than it did years ago: Marketing to the right person, at the right time, with the right message is critical.


It’s simple. You can continue to use multiple, disparate and often wrong data sources to try to acquire and retain customers. Or you can engage with individuals the moment they start their shopping journey. With the right data, you can know when their behavior indicates they are in market for their next vehicle.

You can trust an algorithm, or you can trust behavior. It’s time to stop guessing!

Brian Epro

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