What is audience targeting, and why do customer insights matter so much? 

How well do you know your customers? They’re on the lot and in the service area six days a week, but have you ever wondered why Ms. Aoki or Mr. Smith chose you over the dealership across the street. 

How about your market? Yeah, you’ve lived here all your life but how do you know that things are the same as they were on the day you sold your first car? 

While we’re at it, how about the way you market? When you were a kid, there were ads in the Sunday paper and a guy on TV talking about Memorial Day weekend deals. Now there’s Facebook

Automotive consumer insights are how modern auto dealerships keep up in changing times. Automotive consumer insights can tell you how your market works, who your customers are, what marketing mix makes the most sense for you, and how to connect with your next customer. When you bring all four together in an actionable way, you’re doing something we can call audience targeting. Let’s discuss. 


How does your market work? 

Sometimes the best way to approach a complex problem is by asking basic, even mundane, questions. This applies to your local market, which can be a baffling place if you try to focus on too many variables at once.  

Basic questions may include: 

  • Which local dealer has the largest market share? 

  • Which vehicle models are top sellers in your local radius? 

  • What are the local demographics (e.g. education, income, gender)? 

Answering questions like these can tell you what has worked in your market. You can use these automotive consumer insights to better understand (and maybe even stick with) status quo approaches; or you can use them to identify hidden opportunities. You can also synthesize local automotive consumer insights with regional and national trends by looking at, say:  


Which local dealers and vehicle models are top performers in zip codes like yours throughout the U.S? 

This is a more targeted form of the question, “what do consumers look for when buying a car?” The answer won’t be the same everywhere, but you can use trend analysis to answer it. This can help you think through local strategies as well. Maybe it’s time to stop showing up on TV in a ten-gallon hat and try customer testimonials instead. Maybe you’d do well to have more, or fewer, hybrids on the lot. The point is that any dealership can establish a niche, and market intelligence is the place to start.  


Who is your customer? 

In most cases, your customer is actively choosing your dealership over someone else’s. What’s getting him or her on the lot? The factors could be as diverse as: 

  • Your inventory satisfies a certain lifestyle (e.g. young parents, outdoor enthusiasts). 

  • Your customers share common demographic features (e.g. working-class white and Hispanic, retirees). 

  • Your marketing highlights a specific community value (e.g. religious preference, connection with a local celebrity). 

  • Your business has a geographic advantage (e.g. close proximity to a military base). 

You can start by identifying what zip codes your current customers come from, and spend some time exploring the demographic data. What may prove more useful, however, are granular insights like hobbies, interests, media consumption, and other data points. The goal is to develop a psychometric model of your current customer and look for ways to attract more people of the same type. 

You can also use data insights to tap into new customer bases. Maybe your community has a lot of retirees but another dealer has cornered the market. Instead of fighting for third or fourth place, you can seek out customer types that no one else is connecting with.  


What’s your marketing mix? 

Most businesses have an optimal marketing mix, meaning that a combination of approaches tend to give them the best results. There’s no hard-and-fast formula for every car dealership, but when you look at what each approach does you’ll see how they all fit together: 

  • Branded Content is a great to reach auto shoppers with meaningful content across different touchpoints in their car buying journey. As we mentioned, most car buyers are doing research and research often leads them to articles, infographics, blog posts, and other types of content. 

  • Social Media Advertising is a way to put your dealership in front of in-market customers. The vast majority of people are on social media these days, and the combination of smart optimization technology and eye-catching creative is a great way to connect.  

  • Search Engine Optimization covers what is generally step one in the car buyer’s journey – a simple online search. Showing up early and often keeps your brand on the customer’s radar as he or she moves forward in the process. 

  • Targeted Email Marketing can be a highly effective form of engagement within the automotive space. Emails increase brand awareness, drive website leads and are an excellent way to get the word out on your next special service offer or sales event.  

  • Targeted Display Advertising gets your dealership on the websites your customers frequent and trust. We happen to have the USA TODAY NETWORK at our disposal, which gives us an unbeatable presence on local news platforms in over 100 markets across the country, plus ad network options. The key to success here is smart targeting and optimization.  

  • YouTube Ads are the twenty-first answer to traditional TV ads. Rather than bidding on a time slot, you’re able to target specific audiences on the second most-visited website in the world. 

  • Addressable Geofencing Ads are designed to connect with customers in specific locations, say shoppers in the massive retail space down the street from you (or the rival dealer across the street). These allow you to connect with a hyperlocal audience at the right phase of consideration. 

So, do you invest heavily in social ads, or is geofencing a smarter investment for you? The best way to get the marketing mix right is to match the consumer insights we discussed above with the right engagement tools. Data tracking and analytic tools can be very helpful; as they let you know how the public is engaging your campaigns. 


When and how do you connect? 

Now that automotive customer insights have told you how your market works, who your customer is, and what your optimal marketing mix might be its time for the fourth step – connecting with the customer with the right message at the right time. 

The key here is something called micro moments. Micro moments are simply individual moments during the customer journey where he or she turns to a resource like a smart phone to answer a question, discover a preference, or make a decision. When you’ve done your homework, you can present your customer with an answer that influences him or her to choose your dealership. It may be a blog post on SUV rollover safety or a video of sports car cruising along in the French Alps, but whatever it is it will be informed by rich consumer insights and delivered via sophisticated targeting. 


Are you ready? 

Not every auto dealership has the time to navigate a sea of automotive consumer insight data, and that’s why you should consider partnering with LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE. We have a wealth of data learnings, proprietary targeting solutions, and experts to guide you every step of the way. Our Dealer Scorecard analysis can help you design a more efficient automotive marketing strategy.

Contact us today to get started.



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