Lots of manufacturers and dealerships have “interest.” Whether interest is counted in Facebook likes, email opens, or website traffic, it is valuable for a dealership to have. The problem is whether or not the interest that is being gathered is translating into leads and ultimately purchases.
There’s a new term being thrown around that defines the process of taking valuable interest and turning it into action through the personalized targeting of prospects — demand generation.
Demand generation picks up where lead generation leaves off. Lead generation, which can clump leads and prospects into the same group, leaves many opportunities for contacts to stall or be lost. This is not the case with demand generation.
If you think of a typical dealership lead generation process, you take your leads, some of which become qualified, and market to them until they either purchase or go elsewhere. With demand generation, the process to become both a lead and a qualified lead is more intensive.
First, look at the interest you have with your dealership, the interest you have from people who have not purchased from you or been in direct contact with you. Think of these interested parties as “suspects.” In lead generation, these contacts may actually be considered leads for just expressing interest. But, in stage one of demand generation, these contacts have not yet reached lead status. Because they are not yet leads, the marketing efforts for contacts at the “suspect” stage are more passive. Strategies at this level consist of things like web tracking to see which pages on your website a suspect has looked at or posting on social media to generate more initial interest.
After initial interest in suspects, we have expressed interest from leads. The second stage of the demand generation process begins. Expressed interest can consist of a lead signing up for further communications from you, contacting you directly, or anything where you have gained their communication information and can now begin to send them personalized communications.
Using the information learned in the first stage, such as what pages a contact looked at on your website, you can tailor your communication to appeal to that lead specifically. The second stage of demand generation consists mainly of typical lead generation practices: automated, personalized messages, scores for each lead based on interaction/interest, and similar communication strategies.
Once you they have proven their engagement and accumulated a high enough score to move to the next stage, leads become qualified. Here is where one-on-one communication comes into play and you build a more concrete, personal connection with your qualified lead. This stage is where marketing stops and sales begin. Since these are the contacts that have shown the most interest, they are more likely to make a sale, meaning they are worth spending more time with individually.
In a lead generation process, at any point a contact can stall and they become lost in the process. Since the stages in demand generation are more defined, fewer contacts are lost and, if they stall, they easily revert to the previous stage. For example, if a contact at stage two stops opening emails, they return to the previous stage and are interacted with more passively through web tracking and social media.
The basis of demand generation is turning interest into action. This is highly important in the automotive industry, especially in the sale of new automobiles. Since these are big decision purchases, people tend to do their research and take their time, which means they will likely spend a lot of time in the first stage of demand generation. This is fine because it means that you are gathering lots of information about them before they progress to the next stage where this information becomes crucial to personalizing and tailoring your marketing messages to appeal to leads on an individual level.
Can you imagine being able to know what type of make, model and features your prospects are interested in before ever talking to them?
Shifting to a demand generation process allows you to learn about your suspects, leads, and prospects in new ways that result in more personalized and engaged approaches to marketing. Being able to offer tailored information early in the demand generation cycle takes the passive interest a suspect has and turns it quickly into expressed interest as you are able to learn about them and target their messages accordingly.
Using demand generation is not the big, time-consuming task it may seem to be for the automotive industry. With new online marketing technologies, like marketing automation, you are able to leverage tools to do a lot of the preliminary work for you. With marketing automation, web tracking and a comprehensive customer relationship manager work together automatically to record what each suspect looks at, when they view and how often they return. Then, in the second step, a web form can be linked to an automatic email campaign based on the lead’s interest. With demand generation and marketing automation, the only thing you need to focus on is step three: sales.
Author: Shawn Ryder
Shawn Ryder works with the Automotive Industry to automatically send communication to customers based on their individual preferences and unique dates, vehicle type, service requirements or other available information. Previously, as Co-Founder of training and coaching organizations, Shawn worked with clients to ensure the training and coaching sessions meet requirements for Volvo North America, Ford Motor Company and retail dealerships using a variety of delivery channels, including workshop and in-dealership implementation coaching.