Database: Preventing Breakups
Investing in the Relationship
Nissan wasn’t reinventing the wheel when it decided to make retention the critical component of its marketing dashboard, Welby says. Retention had long been included in the company’s marketing mix when company officials sat down in November 2007 to create the organizationwide measurement tool for the marketing goal.
Months followed filled with measurement, efforts to acquaint the organization with the initiative, gathering and analyzing research, taking the industry’s temperature to figure out if others were viewing the retention challenge the same way, and then developing an initial solution and vetting it through the dealer network and dealer advisory boards.
“When you’re talking about leveraging a dashboard with huge amounts of transactional information, you have got to be buttoned-up on a database,” Welby says. “So if any kind of organization wants to improve customer response, and they don’t have good indications of how customers are currently responding, and they can’t break that down and segment it somehow, they’re going to be very limited in the amount of new intelligence that a dashboard like this will bring them.”
Finally, Nissan had an idea about what it needed to do to make its customer relationships last. So the auto company requested vendor proposals and, in mid-2008, chose its long-time marketing agency, The Marketing Store of Lombard, Ill., to spearhead the project. The Marketing Store worked with McLean, Va.-headquartered LogiXML, a provider of Web-based data software, including dashboards.
Together, the three brought the dashboard online in two phases. Dealership retention performance numbers fully poured into the tool in March, and customer lists joined them in May.
Now dealers can see their retention statistics online and download a list of targeted customers for direct marketing purposes. Welby says for each auto, dealers have a customer name, vehicle identification number, vehicle specifications, vehicle model, model year, last service date, last service mileage and how many service visits it’s had in the last 12 months. The information allows dealers to customize marketing messages.
But “they’re using it for more segmentation than for personalized communications of, ‘Hey, we see your car has this many miles on it and this is the last date you were in and, you know, we’re following you,’” Welby says, alluding to the line where personalization can cross over into creepiness.