Best Practices for Dealerships Using Consumer Data

Marketing using consumer data can be valuable for dealerships. Following up with vehicle buyers on routine maintenance, notifying customers of finance specials, and post-sale benefits are all ways dealerships use consumer data. When done properly, marketing with consumer data leads to more sales and increased customer retention.

Using this data also helps dealers to track the demographics purchasing certain vehicles, the length of a vehicle ownership cycle, and which customers are no longer covered under the factory warranty. Marketing with consumer data is important but can be tricky to do when there isn’t a clear understanding of what data can be used for which purposes and what privacy regulations should be followed. Furthermore, if the consumer data your dealership has isn’t protected, a data breach can destroy a reputation overnight. That’s why it’s important to understand how personally identifiable information works.

What is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that can be linked to an individual. This includes:

  • Name
  • Addresses
  • Social security number
  • Email address
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone

Other applicable data elements include gender, race, birth date, and other individual specific information. A dealership might use all of the above, plus information related to insurance, a driver’s license number, and information about the individuals vehicle such as make, model, etc.

A large amount of consumer data is at a dealers’ fingertips for a variety of reasons. Maintenance reminders, recall notifications, and other communications make it necessary for dealerships to keep this information on file.

PII Compliance for Dealerships

The U.S. has no federal data protection law outside of provisions for medical information, but California and Virginia have laws at the state level and its likely other states will follow suit. Vehicle dealerships typically only have to worry about these laws if they are located in the affected state and typically don’t have to worry about EU regulations (unlike companies that do business globally).

However, the National Institute of Science and Technology has issued guidelines for protecting PII. These include:

  • Identifying the PII you are storing
  • Having a solid policy about how you handle PII and making it easily available
  • Implementing good data security tools, including role-based access. In quick terms, this means only people who need the data should be able to get it.
  • Monitor and respond to threats quickly

Also, while a dealership may not be under specific overarching regulations, a data breach can cause issues. Make sure to practice good cybersecurity to protect your customers.

It’s also important to abide by CAN-SPAM rules. This means that all email sent to customers must include your address and a link to unsubscribe.

How to Leverage Customer Data for Marketing

Direct mail marketing and email marketing are the simplest ways to use customer data. However, these days there are good tools you can use to make use of aggregate data. For example, when you check somebody’s license before allowing them to test drive, it’s easy to make note of age and gender. This can then tell you who is test driving which vehicles. Is one make and model particularly popular with women in their 40s? By storing this data in a pool without any PII information, a dealership can follow driving trends without gleaning too much consumer data.

Dealerships can also use data to segment mailing lists, not just by prospect or former customer, but by what kind of car they drive, demographics, etc. For example, if you have a good deal on maintenance needed by older vehicles, you can send it only to people you already know have a car that is more than ten years old. This is also a great chance to introduce post-sale marketing of F&I products like vehicle service contracts.

Using customer data can help increase your dealership’s ROI, but it’s important to use data in the right way while protecting the PII of your contacts. Make sure to abide by local privacy regulations and by good cybersecurity practices to protect your customers. This will lead to successful marketing using consumer data for your dealership.

Partnering with Automotive Product Consultants

In summary, the rise of cyber threats requires that automotive dealerships become vigilant guardians of consumer data. The FTC’s Safeguards Rule together with SOC 2 Type 2 compliance requirements are necessary steps toward ensuring a comprehensive approach to data protection. With SOC 2 Type 2 designation, APC is uniquely qualified to help dealerships address these needs, and as a result, dealerships can increase consumer trust, safeguard critical data and offer value of data privacy in their overall customer communication and marketing practices.

Automotive Product Consultants is a leading provider of post-sale vehicle service contract marketing for the automotive industry – an ideal partner for dealerships looking to achieve the Safeguards Rule’s ideal protection for customer data. APC has earned SOC 2 Type 2 certification for its entire suite of services and is invested in client privacy as well as robust data protection. This achievement further validates APC as a trusted and secure partner for its users and their data assets.

At Automotive Product Consultants, we offer post-sale vehicle service contract marketing programs at no cost to dealerships. These programs market to dealership customers and educate them about the benefits of buying additional coverage from the dealership.

We encourage dealers and agents to contact us to learn how Automotive Product Consultants can power a post-sale vehicle service contract marketing program that will drive sales and revenue for your dealership. Reach out to us today for a free program demo.

Contact Us Today

"*" indicates required fields

Did you know that more than 10 million electric vehicles are on the road worldwide today? To put this into perspective, that figure was only 53,000 in 2012, representing a massive 18,000% growth in the EV market. As the EV market continues to thrive, exploring the benefits of vehicle service contract coverage, the costs associated with electric vehicle repairs, and the unique technical requirements of these environmentally friendly vehicles is essential.