String's Automotive Marketing Blog

Why Data Should be Driving Your Dealership's Advertising Decisions

Posted by Ken Kolodziej

Jul 24, 2014 10:52:19 PM

Over the last two decades, the world of data has been experiencing two distinct evolutions. On one hand, we have seen the methods of collecting and storing data improve dramatically. One simply needs to compare the 10MB thumb drives from a decade ago to the flash drives of today to see that storage has become smaller, cheaper, and faster. A “small” amount of data held on an 8GB flash drive can cost under $10.

For car dealers, the more important of the two data revolutions comes in the form of taking the vast amounts of data available and organizing it in a way that gives insights that point towards action. It’s in this discernment of the data that the real magic happens.


Many have been embracing the power of data for some time now. Most automotive website providers give reports to their dealers. Some even have good analytics that come to them from the server or are tied into third-party analytics tools like Google Analytics. While this is a great first step, it doesn’t provide the type of actionable data that dealers really need.

When you combine the data coming in from all of your advertising and marketing channels as well as outside factors such as buyer data, you can make the most intelligent decisions about your advertising direction. Individual data points can have you heading in different directions, but when you see all of the data that is pertinent, real decisions can be made.

The primary reason that we developed the Dealer Positioning System (DPS) is to turn these various pieces of data into real dealership intelligence. This is an amazing time to be in the car business. By combining what we know about the markets, the information that we receive from 3rd-party companies, and the various points of data we receive from the dealership’s own assets (such as websites and search marketing campaigns), we present dealers with the knowledge they need in order to make more educated decisions about their advertising direction.


One thing is clear about most dealerships. You have a natural understanding of your market and you’re able to make good decisions in most cases about how to spend your dollars and where to allocate them. DPS is a tool that enhances those natural abilities by showing dealers data that can be both surprising and reinforcing. When the data is surprising, it allows dealers to redirect their efforts into areas or advertising venues that are bringing a true return on investment. When the data reinforces what the dealer already knows, it gives them the peace of mind they need to stay the course and not get distracted by the various things that pop up on a daily basis.

When a dealership is using properly compiled and organized data to help them make advertising decisions, they get to save time by cutting through some of the normal tasks like testing. Dealers should not have to say, “Let’s go after this city for a couple of months and see what happens.”

The data is available to point you in the right direction from the start so that you can know with near certainty that putting advertising dollars towards a particular city will bring more sales. Perhaps more importantly is the ability that the data gives you to select the right types of marketing and advertising. For example, you can look at a particular zip code and determine that there are a lot of Chevy Equinox buyers that you’re not getting in the area, but that the Tahoe isn’t selling nearly as well in that zip code as others. You can then point more of your Equinox pay-per-click budget towards that zip code and pull back on your Tahoe targeting.

That is a simplified example but it illustrates the type of dealership intelligence that can move the needle. In our industry, many dealerships rely on the data that individual services offer them, but the goals of these types of services are often not aligned with the dealership. A PPC company will rarely recommend pulling back budget even if the data tells them to do so. With DPS and a focus on letting the data guide you, dealers can know that their goals and interests are the only thing that is influencing the recommendations.

In this growth market, it’s easy to get complacent and reap the benefits of the economy, but aggressive dealers that want to make the best decisions about where and how to spend money are the ones that are going to go further during the good times and continue to thrive if bad times return.


Topics: auto dealer analytics, dealer positioning system, data for dealers