Marketing automation can transform any business's profitability, including car manufacturers and dealerships.
Yet only one in five companies which implemented it saw noticeable improvements, and one in four perceived it as an expensive failure.
The most common reasons are:
Agency lacking platform expertise
Platform vendors lacking automotive expertise
Over-reliance on out-of-the-box templates
Too-steep learning curve
Low quality of data
Let's explore each in more detail.
1. Wrong assumptions.
Implementing marketing automation is a significant and expensive decision, which is why many stakeholders get involved. And often, they collectively make wrong decisions about the platform, strategy, plan, objectives, customer segment, automation paths, and the rest.
The most common reason is wrong assumptions made.
In automotive, most senior decision-makers never actually bought or serviced a car; someone else always took care of it. And if so, the experience certainly wasn't very recent.
The same applies to salespeople. They don't buy or maintain cars, and regardless of how brilliant they are in selling them online or face-to-face in your showrooms, they wouldn't fail to do it online or automate it through technology.
And the creative people from your marketing or creative agencies don't necessarily represent all your customers either.
It's easy to get it wrong. Start by acknowledging potential bias, and use it to challenge every decision you make.
2. Agencies lacking platform expertise.
Grown-up marketing automation platforms are complex, expensive, and have steep learning curves, so your marketing, creative, or social media agency is unlikely to have them in the portfolio.
They might have a go but will get caught out. Some could admit their inexperience; others will blame the platform. Eventually, their argument, "this is too expensive for what it does," will win the day, and you will end up with a free plugin for WordPress they know well or worse, they've created themselves.
Support your agency by not letting them deliver your marketing automation platform. Get experts to launch it and train your agency and staff on using it properly.
3. Platform vendors lacking automotive expertise.
Most platform vendors are experts in selling and delivering the platform, but only very few in using it to sell cars, parts or services.
Vendors gain experience from implementations, and there are far more platforms running in retail, travel, banking, insurance and telco sectors than in automotive. That's why the vendors' salespeople are unlikely to understand the sector enough to recognise it's far more challenging business than retail, travel, or banking combined.
As a result, they would overlook a crucial complexity related to data integrations or flows, lead time, or integral components of a sale such as a part exchange or financing.
And the same as them, you wouldn't know what they didn't know and only later discover that something can't be done at all, only at the costs that will make you cry.
The solution is simple - find a vendor with deep experience in automotive sectors, especially car dealerships. They would eliminate the risk of failure and, by bringing the learnings and innovations from previous projects, get you a massive headstart!
4. Over-reliance on out-of-the-box templates.
All marketing automation platforms come with preconfigured templates, covering everything from automation paths and segments through content and messaging templates to layouts and styling.
The problem is that they were created and fine-tuned with retailers, travel companies, and banks and their much more straightforward sales process and products to sell.
As a result, the templates would be too simple to help sell cars and will require a lot of expert fine-tuning to make them work for you.
You can either find a vendor with ready-made templates from previous automotive implementations or plan enough time and budget to amend those that come out of the box.
5. Too-steep learning curve
Marketing automation platforms are complex beasts and require a lot of training and onboarding to be embedded into your business and ways of working.
Without it, your teams will quickly get overwhelmed by features and options and eventually only use a fraction of the available functionality. As a result, you will end up with an oversized Outlook.
As before, get help from a vendor experienced in the platform and automotive businesses. They'll train and onboard your teams and help them to maximise the value of the toolkit you've invested in.
6. Immature processes.
Bill Gates once said, "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency."
Even the world's best marketing automation platform can't fix your processes or solve all your problems. It could automate what you're doing, but if you are not doing it right, it will only multiply the problems.
Don't just automate your old manual processes. Rethink and redesign them to utilise the power of marketing automation, deliver better customer experiences and sales more efficiently, and maximise the value of assets you've invested in.
7. Low quality of data.
Same as with processes, marketing automation can't fix your bad data either. It can enrich it over time, but you must start from a clean set.
Without it, you'd risk losing customers because you've misspelt their names, mixed up their transactional history, or spammed them with irrelevant messages and content. And messing up GDPR permissions could get you a lot of unwanted publicity or hefty fines.
Merge your various databases and lists, and then, as a minimum, cleanse old records, label fields and divide names and surnames correctly, validate that addresses and emails still exist, and update marketing and communication permissions and preferences.
Once you have the basics in place, you can enrich the records with interaction and shopping history, service history, and any other relevant you can get your hands on and structure properly.
To clean years' worth of data will take time, and if you don't have it internally, get help from a reputable data processing company. Don't skip this step, because fixing it after you go live is far more difficult and expensive!
We can help you to avoid these mistakes. Contact us.