Balancing car buyer expectations and data privacy changes in automotive marketing

Jul 19, 2021
Jillian Davis

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Welcome to the new normal. Digital marketers are at a crossroads where car buyers’ digital expectations are meeting data privacy regulations and changes — and you need a road map to navigate this tricky and often technical terrain.

In our recent webinar, “Welcome to the New Normal,” our panelists of automotive industry marketing experts discussed how OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) clients and agency partners can balance car buyer expectations with the data privacy changes taking place in digital marketing.  

How car shoppers have changed since 2020 

It’s no surprise that as a direct result of the pandemic, shopper motivations and behaviors have shifted dramatically, pushing our industry head-first into the digital future we’d been inching toward for years. Remember, the digital shift was already happening — the pandemic just sped up adoption due to necessity. 

Time, convenience, and accessibility are priceless commodities that have risen to imperative status. Our Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study found higher digital engagement proved to build trust, save time and impact loyalty. In fact, new car buyers who are more likely to engage in automotive e-commerce tend to be more brand loyal.

The same study also found that the pandemic accelerated positive change in consumer satisfaction through the digital shopping experience. Nearly 3 in 4 new car buyers were satisfied with their car shopping experience, representing the highest satisfaction levels we’ve ever seen.? So now that car buyers have had a taste of how seamless and on-demand car buying can be, there’s no going back to the pre-pandemic way of purchasing.

Customers now prefer to shop and purchase a vehicle online. They like, want and expect digital retailing to stay — with two-thirds of shoppers more likely to purchase a vehicle 100% online today than pre-pandemic.? 

Moving forward, OEM marketing strategies will need to leverage sites like Autotrader and for branding actions at the top of the funnel to influence Make Model and Trim to influence the shopping journey. The ability to monitor audience actions through buying signals becomes essential for success. Platforms that can interpret those signals and use predictive technology to anticipate the consumer’s next move will win.  

What’s changing in digital marketing technology and data privacy

So how do you reach the right customer at the right time with the right message? By tracking digital behavior and buying signals. Tracking and measuring is key to allowing digital marketers to deliver more relevant messages to the right audience.  

But while digital retailing and more online activity is on the rise in the automotive industry, consumer concern over personal privacy and data is also on the rise. 

As new regulatory laws have been passed, companies have had to adjust. Between browsers like Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome ending support for third-party cookies (Chrome will end support for third-party cookies by 2023) and states taking regulations into their own hands, the way marketers can track behavior online is constantly changing.  This blog post explains at a high-level what browser cookies are and what’s changing.

Win with first-party data 

The good news is that with the crumbling of third-party cookies, leaning into first-party data (the data that you own in your CRMs and other systems) is essential for digital marketing success. 

First-party consented data (like users creating an account and logging in on a website) is the new foundation of audience segmentation and activation. Shifting from third-party (or cookie-based) audiences to consumer-first consented marketing is imperative to adjusting to the privacy-centric ecosystem.  

And your shoppers don’t mind giving you their information either. 67% of new car shoppers find personal data collection acceptable if it’s from a website they trust.? As a best practice, make sure you are clear and forthcoming about what information you’re collecting and for what purpose. 73% of consumers are willing to share even more personal information if brands are completely transparent in its use.?

Team up with high-quality data partners 

In addition to using your own data to build audiences and create digital marketing strategies, you should find meaningful partnerships with high-quality data providers. Look for data partnerships with companies who allow access to their walled garden and “share” first-party cookie information. 

Cox Automotive has one of the highest-quality walled gardens of data in the automotive industry. We track car shopping behavior down to the hour with the ability to identify “ready-to-buy” shoppers who are 15 times more likely to buy than the average person in-market. We’re also able to correctly predict which make the shopper purchases over 91% of the time.  

That’s the power of building meaningful, quality audiences specific to the auto industry. 

The future of your digital marketing strategy  

Your digital marketing strategy is all about using smart first-party data and leveraging quality partnerships to build high-quality audiences. That’s how you reach the right consumer at the right time on the right channel. 

And if we’ve learned anything over the course of the last 18 months, it’s that empowering the shopper drives success. Shoppers are more satisfied when they can drive more of the shopping activities online.  

Your marketing content and strategies should empower shoppers to feel confident in their decisions. They want to feel like they’re completely in the driver’s seat of the car-buying process — and we can help you get there. Visit CAMP 360 to learn more about how to build your digital marketing strategy with CAMP 360.  

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