Opinion: Leveraging Data to Personalize the Customer Experience at your Dealership

By Katie Wilkins, Senior Director of Product Management at Dealer.com

Just a few short years ago, customers perceived the personalization of technology as invasive. Circumstances since have driven more consumers online for their shopping needs, with everything from small household items to larger high-dollar items being purchased online in 2021.

Personalization is now standard and expected when it comes to e-commerce experiences. For automotive, personalizing the digital dealership experience might sound like a no-brainer, but just targeting your local market or a niche demographic isn’t going to cut the advertising noise and clutter.

Utilizing data for personalization throughout the sales process is essential to connect automotive retailers with in-market shoppers everywhere.

With more shoppers depending on digital, a dealer’s best asset is to meet the expectations of consumers wherever they are in their car-buying journey, personalize the content and the conversation, and simplify the transaction.

Successful advertising strategies leverage multiple consumer insights including browsing activity, householding data, and even cross-shopping to deliver ads that fit a shopper’s current needs and recommend what they could want in the future based on their unique profile.

To meet these in-market shoppers where they are, capabilities need to span all devices and services – focusing more on who you’re advertising to than where – which modern solutions should have no trouble handling.

Once you’ve piqued a customer’s interest with a highly personalized advertising experience, it’s time to get them on the site – and get them to their desired destination quickly. Consumers expect a website to be fast, their experience to be flexible and the content to be based on their unique needs, desires, and preferences.

Dealerships must do more than navigate shoppers to inventory. Their digital storefront should be as efficient, as rich, and as engaging as their showroom, but offer the flexibility to do as much or as little as the consumer demands with their personal preferences.

Matching data and expertise to personalize car shopping, alongside the technology, helps dealerships make digital marketing and online retail simple and profitable.

Site-wide search capabilities, advanced vehicle comparisons, and consumer reviews integrated throughout the shopping journey, guide the consumer through the process – reducing friction, saving time, and building customer loyalty while also creating efficiencies for dealers to better serve their customers.

This includes personalizing the website experience for shopping vs. ownership, too. For example, an out-of-market site visitor’s experience should prioritize service, parts, and accessories over vehicle specials and model information.

Another significant way to personalize a customer experience is to make your offline services available online. Think at-home test drives and home delivery as well as pick-up and delivery for service appointments, too.

A common mistake that dealers make is not having enough visibility and promotion around bringing the showroom or service lane to the customer’s front door. It’s important to put these services front and center on the homepage and vehicle detail pages.

Customers seemingly can’t get enough of the convenience that personalization makes possible, and technology can be positioned to capitalize on this desire.

Personalization makes it much easier and faster for a customer to flow through the deal, and for dealerships to make them.  It is imperative dealership websites support the consumer journey, saving time and creating long-term customers for dealers.

Whenever there is an opportunity to put customer insights to work, dealerships should be taking advantage and their bottom lines will thank them for it.

Source: Leveraging Data to Personalize the Customer Experience