How to Use Customer Data Like a Connected Car

Let’s do something a little different on the Pardot blog today. Let’s talk cars.

Before we get carried away, I’m not talking sports cars and drag races — though that would probably guarantee me more shares. I’m talking about connected cars, which for all of the tech and marketing nerds out there (myself included), should make for an equally exciting topic.

First, a little background. Earlier this year, Google announced an Android in-car push with their Open Automotive Alliance with Audi and Hyundai. Then, just last month, Apple launched an in-vehicle infotainment product called CarPlay — meaning that the race for the best connected car technology has officially begun. In fact, by 2018, the global connected car market could reach upwards of $50 billion dollars.

By 2025, every passenger auto is expected to be a “connected car” that’s in constant contact with the Internet and even with nearby cars. (LA Times)

So what’s all the fuss, you ask? Connected cars have the ability to access and collect huge amounts of behavioral data from consumers, which can then be used to improve vehicle safety measures, fuel efficiency, and the entire consumer experience (according to the Los Angeles Times, one in five new cars is already collecting driver data for car manufacturers). It sounds like something from the future, but if you’re a B2B marketer, you can take pride in knowing that we’ve been doing this for years with tools like marketing automation.

Where Marketing Automation Factors In

If you were at Dreamforce 2013, or any number of last year’s marketing or tech conferences, you’re probably well aware of the “Internet of Things.” This idea revolves around connectivity; specifically, your data, your devices, and your consumers. Today’s buyers are connected, in-the-know, mobile, and social — and marketers need to have strategies to match.

For B2B companies, a connected strategy begins with a marketing tool like marketing automation. Much like with connected cars, these marketing technologies can collect huge amounts of buyer data, such as:

  • buyer activity on your website
  • content views and downloads
  • demographic data from form submissions
  • social profile data
  • email opens and link clicks.

The real power behind these marketing tools is their ability to execute on this data. Similar to how car manufacturers are using the behavioral data gathered from drivers to improve the overall driving experience, marketers can take the data collected through their marketing automation systems to customize the entire buyer journey, creating a more 1:1 buying experience (you may recognize some parallels with our April theme here!). Take a look at the list below for a few ways that you can use buyer data to personalize the buying cycle for your customers:

1. Respond to buyer actions and inquiries in real time, using prospect activity alerts that let you know when your buyers are taking actions that you’ve deemed important. Your sales reps can tailor their conversations to each buyer using this personalized information.

2Segment your marketing communications based on data collected through your marketing automation tool, like location, industry, job title, and more.

3. Send targeted nurturing content based on your buyers’ stage of the sales cycle. According to our 2013 State of Demand Generation study, 76% of buyers want customized content for each stage of the buying cycle. Marketing automation can help you determine which stage your buyers are in, then send them the appropriate content when they’re ready for it.

4. Based on your buyers’ data, you can display dynamic content on your website that’s appropriate to their interests, industry, location, and more — creating a unique, personalized customer experience for each buyer.

These are just a few ways that marketing automation tools can use buyer data to improve the customer experience. As the lines between B2B and B2C marketing continue to blur, today’s car shoppers may soon find themselves exposed to similar connected marketing tactics when they step into a new vehicle.

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