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OEMs need to understand the omnichannel car-buying journey better.

It's clear from our recent Online Readiness Scorecard for the UK that most OEMs have only just started developing their digital journeys. Although there are quick wins available to implement immediately, significant improvements will require better use of customer data and scientific principles already well-established in retail.

The task at hand is to connect campaigns, web analytics and CRM data and go beyond the main conversion points, such as the test drive request form or configuration summary, to the level of micro-conversion points that preceded them. By understanding precisely what the customers interacted with on their journey, OEMs can more easily comprehend what happened during the process and why.

It's also essential to eliminate all the false signals (such as differences between dealerships in follow-up timings and quality of response) and group customers into audiences large enough to be representative but still sufficiently granular and precise.

The diagram below shows the general principles applicable, where customer interaction points are plotted against the customer life cycle curve, and each bar length represents its relative contribution towards the sale.

Source: Auto Zebra, January 2021

Understanding what influenced your customers' decision to buy (or not) on a granular level will tell you exactly how each channel, interaction point and individual button on the website contributes to the sale online and offline.

With this information, OEMs can prioritise roadmaps and reliably calculate the sales uplifts and ROI of improvements before making them. It will also help create effective lookalike audiences for marketing, optimise marketing budgets and campaigns, develop the right content, deliver better personalisation scenarios, and ultimately transform existing operations into a real omnichannel sales machine.

The customer behaviours that matter are already captured in OEMs' data. Scientifically interrogating the data will tell them precisely which audiences buy each model, trim and engine and, more crucially, why.

There are many quick wins that OEMs can achieve from the beginning of 2021. In parallel with this, they will also benefit from a focus on building capability so that at the beginning of 2022, they can say yes to these three questions: Do I really know what contributes to my sales? Does it match my spending and focus? Am I even in a position to answer these questions?"

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