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The more I read and study about new ways to micro-target an audience and dissect data down to the smallest degree possible, the more I think back to foundational principles of marketing which contain a component of reach and frequency. In order to create awareness, consideration and motivation you must talk to a big enough audience enough times so that you can drive a portion of the market that is intending to buy. Especially if you plan on selling any product in volume there must be enough consideration to drive the motivation.

When you are promoting any item, especially an automobile or a particular dealership there must be components of both macro-targeting and micro-targeting. Meaning you must use all the data available to talk to enough in-market customers who are considering purchasing a vehicle from your dealership. Many people today get confused with what micro-targeting really is and its purpose. People tend to assume that micro-targeting means narrowing down the scope to as small an audience as possible in order to only have your message presented to that sphere of influence. The popular trend today shows marketers are more concerned with a highly targeted narrow audience rather than a broad targeted larger audience.

So that begs the question: what if the cost was identical to target a small audience or a large audience, which would you prefer? Think about it for a minute. You pay the same exact dollar to make an impression to a smaller more dialed in audience or you get 10 times the audience with the same amount of frequency. Which one would you choose?

It’s a question that deserves a lot of thought and is very relevant to automotive marketing decisions. I sat with a dealer this week who had discounted the concept of email marketing. In the past he had to advertise through outbound emails and had not been effective. The premise was based on sending a few thousand emails to very highly qualified prospects and it had yielded no response. We discussed the way I prefer to market to email targets – through sending over a hundred thousand emails to anybody that I can find to drive up the relative size of the market – and he asked why I would want to target so many people without knowing their buying habits and shopping traits. After discussing that the price was nearly identical to do it my proposed way I just asked, “Have you ever bought any form of advertising and wanted to pay more to reach less people?”

That question has stuck with me all week as the subject of Big Data. The levels in which you can zero in on a prospect is truly amazing but when using advertising dollars to generate traffic for automotive dealerships, you have to thoroughly evaluate how small an audience is too small versus how big is too big. It’s important to remember that cost is the same in macro-targeting and micro-targeting. So cost per thousand and size of market will always sway the decision but the key here is to know how to consciously evaluate how you are using your data to target.

The dealer I mentioned earlier decided not to do email marketing because it had failed him in the past. He will be missing a very effective opportunity based on a previous program he did that in my opinion was destined to fail from the start. But the positive thing in this instance is to know that he will look at data in a very different way in the future as he measures and evaluates micro-targeting programs in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, the world of data and being able to use all the available data to market to automotive intenders is amazing but you have to not get fooled by the new bright shiny objects. Remember basic principles of the automotive shopper funnel that only one to two percent of the market is actually in-market at the time that you are marketing to them.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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