Explainers

5 Steps to Launch a Customer Data Platform

October 31, 2023
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In today's digital age, a clear understanding of your customers can be the deciding factor between business success and failure. For automotive dealerships, navigating the complex world of customer data can be challenging, because a dealership usually works with a handful of vendors that all house customer data in separate databases. So how do you get all of your customer data into one place? Enter the Customer Data Platform (CDP). These powerful tools play an integral role in the automotive industry, providing a unified view of customer data, enabling better understanding of customer behaviors, personalizing customer interactions, and driving sales and profitability.

CDP’s Role in the Automotive Industry

Unified Customer View: By consolidating data from various sources into a single customer database, CDPs provide a 360-degree view of each customer's interactions. This complete customer journey map enables a deeper understanding of customer behavior and needs.

Personalization and Customer Engagement: Dealerships can use the data unified in a CDP to deliver personalized marketing messages and customer experiences, leading to increased customer engagement and loyalty.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Access to comprehensive customer data enables dealerships to make data-driven decisions, improving marketing strategies, customer service, and operational efficiency.

Predictive Analytics: Some CDPs offer predictive analytics capabilities, allowing dealerships to anticipate future customer behavior and tailor their offerings accordingly.

Compliance and Data Security: CDPs help dealerships comply with data protection regulations and ensure data security.

Steps for Launching a CDP:

Step 1. Determine Goals

Determine Goals

Identify the specific needs, challenges, and goals that your dealership wants to address with a Customer Data Platform. Your CDP vendor should understand these objectives and provide insights into how the CDP can meet those needs.

Here are a few examples of why dealerships sign up for Customer Data Platforms.

Example 1:

Need: Enhance the understanding of customer behavior throughout the car buying journey, from initial research to post-purchase interactions.

Challenge: The dealership has data scattered across various systems - website analytics, CRM, DMS, email marketing platforms, and more. This fragmentation makes it difficult to get a comprehensive view of the customer journey.

Goal: Create a unified customer profile that captures all interactions a customer has with the dealership, enabling more personalized marketing and sales strategies.

How a CDP Addresses It: A CDP can integrate data from all these sources, providing a 360-degree view of each customer. This unified profile allows the dealership to track a customer's journey, understand their preferences, and tailor interactions accordingly.

Example 2:

Need: Increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns to generate more leads and lower the cost to acquire customers.

Challenge: The dealership's marketing campaigns are broad and not targeted, leading to lower conversion rates and wasted marketing spend.

Goal: Segment the customer base to deliver more personalized and relevant marketing campaigns, thereby increasing conversion rates and ROI.

How a CDP Addresses It: A CDP can segment customers based on various criteria like past purchases, online behavior, service history, etc. This segmentation allows the dealership to create targeted marketing campaigns, such as special offers for customers looking to upgrade their vehicles or service reminders for those due for maintenance.

Example 3:

Need: Improve post-purchase customer engagement and loyalty.

Challenge: After purchasing a vehicle, many customers feel disconnected from the dealership until it's time for service or a new purchase, leading to missed opportunities for additional sales and decreased loyalty.

Goal: Foster ongoing relationships with customers post-purchase, leading to increased loyalty, repeat business, and referrals.

How a CDP Addresses It: By consolidating data from various touchpoints, a CDP can help the dealership identify opportunities for post-purchase engagement, such as sending personalized accessory recommendations, updates on new models, or invitations to dealership events. This continuous engagement strengthens the customer-dealer relationship and encourages repeat business.

Step 2. Data Audit & Integration

Data Audit

Your dealership likely has a wealth of data spread across various systems. The next step is to consolidate this data to provide a holistic view of your customers. Start by conducting a thorough audit of all existing data sources, such as a CRM, DMS, Digital Retail Tool, Service Scheduler, etc. Keep in mind that there are different types of data, and to harness the full potential of a CDP you will want to integrate all of your first-party, second-party, and third-party data.


First-party data includes information directly gathered from your website, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, or any other proprietary source.

Second-party data is a type of data acquired through exclusive partnerships or alliances.

Third-party data typically involves data purchased from vendors that specialize in data collection.

Examples of First-party Data:

CRM Data: Information about customers who have interacted with the dealership, including their contact details, purchase history, service appointments, and communication preferences.

Website Analytics: Data about visitors to the dealership's website, such as pages viewed, time spent on the site, and actions taken (e.g., filling out a contact form or browsing inventory).

DMS: A system that consolidates CRM data, website analytics, and in-store feedback, providing dealerships with organized and accessible insights.

In-Store Interactions: Feedback or information collected from customers during in-person visits, such as test drive experiences or reasons for visiting.

Examples of Second-party Data:

Vendor Tools: Some vendors host a subdomain that your website links to or embeds an iFrame in order to interact with the tools. Example: Digital Retail Tool, Trade-in Calculators, Service Schedulers and more. All of these tools are also collecting data on the dealership customers as they use their tools. Contact your vendors to ensure you are gathering all of the data about users that they are.

Partner Dealership Data: If the dealership is part of a larger chain or has partner dealerships, they might share data on common customers, vehicle preferences, or regional sales trends.

Event Sponsorship Data: If the dealership sponsors local events or trade shows, they might receive attendee data, including contact details and interests.

Co-Marketing Campaign Data: Data obtained from joint marketing campaigns with non-competing businesses, such as a local bank offering auto loans or an insurance company providing vehicle coverage.

Examples of Third-party Data:

Demographic Data: Information about the general population in the dealership's area, including age, income levels, family size, and more. This can help the dealership tailor its marketing and inventory.

Credit Score Data: Data from credit bureaus that provides insights into the creditworthiness of potential customers, helping the dealership offer appropriate financing options.

Vehicle Ownership Trends: Data on popular vehicle models, emerging trends, or average vehicle ownership durations in a specific region.

Online Behavior Data: Insights into how consumers in the dealership's target market behave online, such as websites they frequent, online searches related to vehicles, or digital ads they interact with.

Step 3. Configuration & Customization

Configuration & Customization

Every dealership is unique, and your CDP should reflect that. In this step, you will specify any custom features, reports, or dashboards required to ensure the CDP aligns with your specific needs and operational nuances. Here are a few examples of reports that dealerships expect to see from CDPs.

Source-Based Conversion: Track the number of leads generated from various sources such as online ads, website inquiries, social media campaigns, and walk-ins.

Time-to-Conversion Analysis: Measure the average time it takes for a lead to convert into a sale from the initial point of contact.

Service Visit Frequency: Track how often customers return for scheduled maintenance or repairs.

Average Revenue Per Customer: Calculate the average amount a customer spends at the dealership over a defined period, including vehicle purchases, services, and other products.

Referral Value: Measure the value generated from your referral traffic to allocate your strategy and budget accordingly. 

Step 4: Training & Onboarding

Training & Onboarding

Integrating a Customer Data Platform (CDP) into a dealership requires tailored training for distinct teams. Sales teams should focus on customer profiles, while marketing delves into campaign analytics. Hands-on workshops allow employees to practice real-world CDP scenarios, and a feedback loop ensures continuous alignment with user experiences and challenges.

Sales Team Focus:

Customer Profiles: Sales representatives will primarily focus on accessing and understanding comprehensive customer profiles. This includes historical purchase data, service records, communication preferences, and any other relevant touchpoints. By having this information at their fingertips, sales reps can tailor their pitches, recommend suitable vehicles, and anticipate customer needs.

Lead Management: The CDP will also assist the sales team in tracking leads, their sources, and their current status in the sales funnel. This ensures timely follow-ups, understanding lead quality, and optimizing close rates.

VDP Insights: Using VDP insights, sales teams can pinpoint less-viewed vehicles online, guiding in-store shoppers to consider them. This prevents prolonged lot stays and potential profit losses for the dealership.

Marketing Team Focus:

Campaign Analytics: The marketing team will delve deep into analytics to gauge the success of various campaigns. This includes tracking metrics like engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. By understanding which campaigns resonate with their audience, they can allocate resources more effectively.

Segmentation and Personalization: Using the CDP, marketers can segment their audience based on various criteria like purchase history, vehicle type, or service frequency. This allows for more personalized and targeted marketing campaigns, increasing their relevance and effectiveness.

Feedback and Reviews: The marketing team can also monitor customer feedback and reviews aggregated by the CDP. This provides insights into customer satisfaction, areas of improvement, and potential opportunities for reputation management and promotional activities.

Step 5: Launch & Review

Launch & Review

Announce the official launch of the CDP to your entire dealership, highlighting its benefits and capabilities. Ensure that all teams understand the value it brings, fostering a sense of collective ownership and enthusiasm for the new tool.

Monitor the platform's performance against the goals set in Step 1. Use built-in analytics to track metrics like customer engagement, sales conversions, and marketing ROI. Regularly comparing actual outcomes with initial objectives will ensure the platform remains aligned with the dealership's evolving needs.

Hold regular review meetings to discuss the CDP's impact, gather feedback, and identify areas for improvement or further customization. This iterative approach ensures that the platform remains dynamic, adapting to changing market conditions and customer behaviors.

Continuously integrate data sources as your dealership signs up for new software or deploys different marketing strategies, ensure that you are collecting as much data as possible and integrating it with your CDP.

Implementing a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is pivotal for modern dealerships to enhance customer engagement and drive sales. By setting clear goals, integrating data, customizing the platform, and ensuring thorough training, dealerships can harness the full potential of a CDP. This streamlined approach not only optimizes operations but also elevates the customer experience. Embracing a CDP is a strategic step towards a data-driven future in the automotive industry.

How Orbee Can Help

Data Collection and Integration: Orbee collects data from various sources, like DMS, CRM, websites, and third-party providers, and integrates it into a centralized CDP for a comprehensive view of customer information.

Data Unification and Segmentation: Orbee's CDP eliminates data silos, unifies customer data, and enables segmentation for personalized marketing campaigns.

Customer Journey Mapping and Analytics: Orbee's CDP tracks customer engagement across touchpoints, providing valuable insights to optimize marketing and enhance the customer experience.

Personalized Marketing and Engagement: Orbee's CDP enables tailored communications, offers, and recommendations, strengthening customer relationships and driving sales.

Partner with Orbee to launch a CDP, leverage customer data, and elevate marketing strategies for business growth and exceptional customer experiences.

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