Big data, predictive analytics and machine learning are common topics that have risen within the digital marketing space and are rapidly gaining traction from many industries due to the opportunities it provides.

The automotive sector is no exception to the widespread phenomenon, gather real-time consumer data from sources such as social media, web, previous transactions and more. In fact, the applications associated with data and analytics in the automotive industry are huge for online marketing services, as it can be used to transform the consumer experience through personalised products and services. Therefore, it is no surprise the industry has collectively invested $2.8 billion into big data this year in order to drive value for the consumer.

Evidently, thanks to the adoption of online mediums, the consumer path to purchase has fundamentally changed in recent years. In fact, the consumer journey has become heavily reliant on digital, with some studies suggesting that two-thirds of consumers visit only one car dealership before committing to the high ticket purchase.

The path to purchase has also significantly decreased as a result of digital platforms, with consumers taking only 2-3 months to make a decision with 70% of their consideration and research being conducted online. However, while the journey may be shorter as a result of online mediums, these platforms actually provide automotive marketers with exceptional insights.

Despite this, many of these insights are disregarded once a consumer has made a purchase, with marketers struggling to keep these customers loyal and engaged moving forward. In fact, over 600,000 Australian’s were expected to purchase a brand new vehicle this year, yet only a small portion will continue to engage with marketing messages from their car manufacturer or dealer. Fortunately, the investment into big data is changing this for the automotive industry, with predictive analytics and connected technology allowing marketers to create personalised and captivating consumer experiences that go beyond the purchasing phase.

Personalisation has become a necessity for digital marketing, used as a competitive advantage to provide consumers with the most relevant experiences and avoiding the likelihood of disregarded messages. In fact, arguably, the automotive industry is some of the biggest adopters of various personalisation techniques, which are only strengthened by significant opportunities to leverage big data to ensure a holistically personalised consumer experience from the consideration phase through to brand loyalty.

One of the opportunities for greater consumer engagement is the personalisation of automotive websites. Consumers may be visiting a website to achieve different goals, and by understanding consumer behaviour, their needs may be better met. Mazda recently realised this with their Dutch market and altered their website to present different web pages to both new and returning website visitors, that were more relevant to what the consumer may be trying to achieve. For example, new visitors were presented information and videos on different makes and models, allowing them to consider the various products on offer. Meanwhile, returning visitors were presented with a homepage showcasing previously viewed car models, promotions, financing options and more, which provided additional, in-depth information as the consumer begins to make a decision.

Personalisation can also be strengthened through the use of email marketing. A recent study revealed that currently 24% of car-related emails failed to effectively target the intended recipient and were immediately identified as spam. What automotive marketers need to consider, is that consumers often provide their email address to dealers when they are in the market to purchase a car.

However, once that purchase had been made consumers may not be interested anymore, therefore becoming less receptive to email marketing messages as time goes on. However, through better use of big data, machine learning and predictive analytics consumers can be individually targeted with personalised messages that are more relevant to their changing needs and wants. These marketing messages may target the consumer with aftermarket upgrades or services that are relevant to the behavioural and lifestyle data collected. For example, data sets may allow the automotive industry to develop and market customised insurance policies that are personally suited to the consumers needs.

The introduction and adoption of connected cars will continue to drive personalisation for automotive marketers. In fact, this space is set to skyrocket, with connected cars and services predicted to account for $40 billion in annual revenue by 2020. While currently, the development of the connected car is limited to technology such as Wi-Fi connectivity, it is expected that these vehicles will have the technology and software to be to monitor engine performance, automatically update software systems, identify faults as well as potentially learn consumer behaviours and lifestyle preferences. For example, could there be a potential link between the type of music an individual likes listening to and the places they visit, and what products can be developed to satisfy these preferences?

This has immense implications for digital marketing in the automotive sector, as consumers will be able to be better targeted throughout the whole consumer life cycle, as well as facilitating the omnichannel experience. For example, if connected software throughout the car can determine potential faults, perhaps the automotive marketers can target consumers on Facebook with solutions, providing the consumer exactly what they need at the right time. Furthermore, such technology will have a great impact on integrated marketing strategies and justifying advertising spend. For example, is there any data to justify radio advertising expenditure if it is determined consumers avoid radio advertisements by changing the station or playing their own music?

Furthermore, as consumer behaviour changes at an overwhelmingly fast pace, data collected can often become stale quickly. A potential benefit to the use of connected devices is the ability to gather consumer insights rapidly, allowing for profitable decisions to be made.

Big data and analytics also provides marketers with the ability to identify potential upcoming needs of the consumer, providing automotive brands with greater opportunity and a competitive advantage. By considering data sets such as call logs, buying trends and other customer data, predictions can be made about what the consumer may be purchasing next, ensuring they remain engaged with the brand after the initial car purchase. Through gathering insights and determining customer needs, consumers become less likely to shop around and go with a competitor. In fact, this can go beyond obvious aftermarket services, with some automotive brands utilising localised geographical data to engage with their consumers when there is hail storm expected in their area, for example. By using relevant data to do so, these brands are creating a more engaging consumer experience that goes beyond the path to purchasing a vehicle, and stays relevant to nurture a loyal customer.

Big data and analytics has great benefits for automotive marketers and their digital marketing and advertising services. In fact, some studies suggest that automotive dealerships who embraced consumer data, saw increases of 15% in their sales. As marketers continually aim to improve their consumer’s experiences through more relatable content and message, it is essential to leverage data from various sources to develop more pe
rsonalised strategies to keep the consumer engaged throughout the entire customer journey and beyond.

At RGC Digital Marketing, we are an online marketing agency in Sydney and offer a range of digital marketing services that connects consumers to brands. To find out how we can help your brand leverage data and customer insights to better inform your automotive digital strategy, please contact Richard on (02) 8883 2988 or email