Subarus are not particularly sexy. Neither is the subject of data, for that matter. 

Surprisingly, a combination of the two topics made for one of the most interesting sessions at this week's DataIQ Summit.

Led by Iain Lovatt from BlueVenn, it was all about Subaru’s data-driven marketing strategy. More specifically, how the automotive brand uses data to create an emotive and personalised customer experience. Here are a few key takeaways.

Utilising actionable data 

One of the main talking points of the whole conference was the importance of using all types of data. Or rather, not being limited to a certain kind. 

Hard data, such as gender or age demographic, is obviously helpful for gaining general insight into the consumer. Soft data, meanwhile - things like personal preference or opinion - is equally important for fleshing it out.

While this is a good basis, actionable data is what ultimately helps to drive and inform real-time marketing. For Subaru, this type of data might involve how often a consumer is browsing the website or what type of car they’re looking at. 

By taking all this data into consideration (and from all sources), Subaru can build a single customer view. This enables the brand to treat all consumers as individuals rather than large segments, meaning they are able to deliver more timely and relevant content based on real-time needs and desires.  

Creating relevancy

So, how exactly does Subaru deliver this?

One thing that has dramatically helped the brand has been its decision to centralise and combine both online and offline marketing data. 

Let’s take Tomas - an example Subaru customer that might have first been identified via online browsing behaviour. While using this data might help to inform relevant email targeting – it also means that Tomas would be treated entirely differently if he were to visit an offline dealership. 

On the other hand, Tomas’s offline persona would not be taken into consideration online either.

The solution for Subaru has been to create a unified customer-base that integrates dealership information with online data. This has enabled the company to tailor email newsletters based on exactly where the customer is in their journey, as well as monitor customer behaviour and satisfaction levels.

Ultimately, marketing becomes all the more relevant as the customer further engages with the brand – regardless of the channel or how fragmented their path to purchase is.

Turning test drives into sales

Alongside general customer satisfaction, Subaru has seen a marked increase in conversion rates as a result of its multichannel data-driven strategy. The number of enquiries leading to test drives has risen by a factor of 3.2.

With the experience of buying a car being highly based on both senses and emotion - involving everything from the sound of the engine to that new car smell – test drives are a hugely important factor.

Of course, encouraging test drives is not enough. By using data insight to match consumers with the right car – one that suits their specific lifestyle, budget and needs – Subari has managed to increase the number of test drives leading to sales by a factor of 1.6.

This shows that data-driven marketing is not only about attracting and engaging customers in the first place, but using data to deliver a more rounded and emotive experience across the board.

What does the future hold for the automotive industry?

Iain finished by asking what the future of the automotive industry might look like. From driverless cars to telematics, there’s no doubt that data will be at its core. 

Last year, the company partnered with IBM to explore the idea of a data analytics solution involving Subaru’s ‘EyeSight’ driver assistance system – a feature that uses stereo cameras to detect other vehicles and pedestrians. The end result could be the creation of a ‘connected car’ network that shares and communicates data between cars and control centres. 

Whether or not it actually comes to fruition, Subaru insists that – much like its use of data in marketing – technology will always be built around how it can truly benefit and enhance the customer experience.

(Ad for the Subaru Impreza with EyeSight)

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 25 May, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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