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Attract the Best Dealership Auto Leads with Proactive Marketing

There’s no denying that automotive sales leads are the lifeblood of any dealership. 

Working in the field, some of the most common questions we hear from our dealers partners revolve around automotive leads and prospecting, including:

  • Where do qualified leads come from today?
  • How do you get more leads?
  • How do you convert prospective leads into sales?

Research finds automotive digital ad spend increased by 13.7% in 2022, and will increase by another 11.7% in 2023. As that spending continues to rise, the average cost of leads is also rising to over $250. This combination of increased cost and reliance on digital leads means dealerships everywhere should be focusing on streamlining their lead-generation processes to maximize every dollar spent.

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, the best auto leads are typically generated by high-quality data analysis that develops actionable insights into each individual prospect, giving dealers the knowledge and tools they need to power their:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer experience management

In this post, we take a data-driven approach to answering:

  • Who are your dealership leads?
  • What do you know about them?
  • How do you get ahead of them?

Who Are Your Dealership Leads?

Some auto industry veterans may think of automotive leads as people who have somehow indicated to your dealership that they’re in the market for a new or used vehicle. In reality, that’s only one kind of lead.

According to research from S&P Global Mobility, Nomads (who own a brand once and leave, also known as 'One and Done') represents about 58% of the market in the 12 months ending July 2022, which is the highest 'One and Done' rate in at least 10 years. These nomad buyers offer dealerships a massive opportunity when it comes to identifying and engaging auto sales leads. 

To take full advantage of this opportunity, dealers need to effectively view every single person of car-buying age in their marketplace as a potential dealership lead of greater or lesser quality. That obviously isn’t a prospect list you can plop down on a salesperson’s desk and tell them to start calling, but it is a starting point for modern data analytics tools like Mastermind.

By analyzing a combination of first- and third-party data, including insights from a dealer’s CRM, DMS and CDP, Mastermind automatically identifies which customers are preparing to be in-market for their next vehicle. This information is presented in a 0-100 Behavior Prediction Score® that lets your sales team easily prioritize the highest quality dealership leads.

What Do You Know About Your Auto Leads?

When it comes to qualifying dealership sales leads, the challenge isn’t that there isn’t enough customer data. The connection of so many parts of our lives to the digital world means all of us, including your dealership’s leads, are generating almost inconceivable amounts of data.

In fact, according to the latest estimates, 328.77 million terabytes of data are created each day. That adds up to nearly:

  • 120 zettabytes per year (or 328.77 quadrillion kilobytes) 
  • 10 zettabytes per month 
  • 2.31 zettabytes per week 

In 2013 that figure was just 4 zettabytes for the whole of the year, representing a 30x increase over the last decade alone.

That data is spread across the entire internet, and only a fraction is generated for the automotive industry, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a tremendous amount of digital content to dig through. The increasingly important challenge is to ensure you’re using the right data to maximize sales lead quality.

For this reason, Mastermind’s predictive analytics tools rely on high-quality data from various sources, including:

  • S&P Global Mobility
  • TransUnion

This data gives our dealer partners access to insights from 200 million households, 3.2 billion ownership records and 650 million vehicle records.

How Do You Get Ahead of Your Auto Sales Leads?

Dealers have proven to be incredibly resilient, quickly adapting to rapid change and evolving their sales process to meet new consumer demands. While each dealership will face their own unique challenges, getting ahead for the remainder of 2023 requires auto dealers to continue evolving to stay ahead of the competition and their audience.

To find success with auto sales leads, there are 3 key ways dealerships can get ahead with proactive dealership marketing: 

  1. Reorganize your dealership’s BDC

Ensure your BDC is equipped with the right information to proactively identify customers who are likely to be ready to buy, even if they don’t submit a form. 

Reactively, you can use insights into how a buyer interacted with your website, such as any makes or models they’ve browsed online or whether they’ve used your online trade-in evaluator. 

When armed with the right tools and technology to connect these online touchpoints to other data-driven customer insights, your dealership’s BDC can begin proactively engaging prospective leads, turning cold-calls into personalized experiences that speak to a customer’s unique situation. 

  1. Utilize high quality data for proactive auto prospecting

With predictive marketing tools like Mastermind, dealers are empowered to apply this proactive marketing approach beyond their BDC and into other elements of their dealerships, maximizing the quality and quantity of auto leads by identifying when a customer will likely re-enter the buying cycle.

Dealership tools powered by predictive analytics automatically search through your dealership’s DMS and CRM to identify prospective buyers with the right credentials to match your available inventory. When these datasets are combined with third-party financial and demographic data, a prospective auto lead can be identified through various factors, enabling your team to seal the deal with actionable and personalized offers.

These insights must be up to date to be effective, meaning the success of a proactive marketing approach hinges almost entirely on high-quality data fed directly into your system. Mastermind’s tools simplify this workflow by integrating directly with a dealer’s CRM, DMS, CDP and more. 

  1. Focus on long-term customer loyalty

Inevitably, some of your dealership’s best customers won’t be ready to buy again just yet – especially as buyers are holding onto vehicles longer than ever. According to S&P Global Mobility, the average age of light vehicles on the road in the U.S. rose again in 2023 to 12.5 years, which is up by more than three months compared to 2022 and the highest yearly increase since the 2008 recession.

This doesn’t mean you should forget about them in the meantime, however. With unique access to their purchase and service history, dealers can get ahead of loyalty customers to prevent future defection.

With the service drive strongly supporting loyalty efforts across the calendar, this strategy is particularly powerful when applied to a dealership’s strategy on working the service drive. Using this approach, dealers can better determine which of their upcoming service appointments are well-positioned to begin shopping soon. This allows your service team to proactively connect with prospective service-to-sales leads before they enter the service drive, kickstarting their buying journey. 

While no two dealerships are ever going to face identical challenges in the year’s remaining months or beyond, recent vehicle shortages proved one lesson universally true: Dealers who wait amid so much change are the ones who get left behind.

To attract, engage and convert the best sales leads, dealers need to get ahead of prospective customers with proactive marketing.

Interested in learning how Mastermind can empower your dealership to attract and engage the best leads in your market? Contact us for a free demo.