9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Predictive Analytics for Sales Part 1: Inbound Marketing

This is the first in a series of three posts that will explore the concept of predictive analytics and the three ingredients that will help you drastically increase your effectiveness online. Subscribe to our blog to ensure you get all three posts!

If I told you I knew how you could double your email open and click rates and also increase your sale quota fulfillment by almost 10% — would you listen to what I have to say? I hope so, because this blog series is going to show you how to unlock your marketing superpowers to give your customers what they want before they have to tell you.

The key to unlocking these superpowers is using the secret sauce in the ingredients of your marketing recipe — predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics shows you how to know which customers are interested in your products before they fill out a form. You can then use that data to create smart marketing which uses your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) data to tell your salespeople who they need to talk to.

The Marketing Cliff Problem

The goal of predictive analytics is to become more efficient because we're faced with The Marketing Cliff, which basically means that the harder we work, the less effective we are. Screen-Shot-2015-03-13-at-10.41.34-AM

Back in the early 2000s we were hardly sending any email. Worldwide there were around 20 billion emails sent each day and the open rates for these emails were almost 40%. But today there are nearly 170 billion emails being sent each day and our open rates are around 20%.

The problem is that we just get too many emails. We're getting blasted by companies as soon as they snag our email address. They're marketing to us without care for what we're interested in or what stage of the buying cycle we're in. When they send email so frequently like this, they scare us away and we stop listening to them all together.

As automotive marketers, this is extremely important for us to consider. We are asking people for their emails and promising them we will follow up with them. But they are sick and tired of receiving email after email about everything you have to offer.

If you think about it, we probably all have an old email address. Scott's is bigtwig16@hotmail.com. This is still his Skype name which is a bit embarrassing. But Big Twig was his nickname playing basketball because he liked Big Country, a big basketball player and he was not very large, so Big Twig is an apt description. He always gives this email to companies when he purchases from them or when he needs to fill out a form online to get what he wants. But he doesn't even open this email account anymore because he gets so much junk mail that it hardly loads.

All of us have this historic email address that is just littered with junk mail. We’ve learned to ignore it over time because businesses are inundating us with email after email after email. As businesses, we need to learn not to scare people away. We need to change the way that we market to avoid running off this marketing cliff.

Give Customers What They Want

The problem is that most of us don't realize that our customers actually show us what they want. If you remember only one thing from this post, it should be that your customers don't tell you what they want online — they show you what they want. So instead of waiting for a form submission to start marketing to someone, we need to listen and watch to know who is ready to work with us.

customers-show (1)

In this blog series, I will share with you three ingredients that will really help you use what I call predictive analytics: Inbound Marketing, predictive analytics and personalized sales. I'm so excited for you to learn how to use these three ingredients because they are the key to unlocking your superpower. You have the ability to predict the future. You have the ability to know who to talk to even if they don't tell you, but you need to use these ingredients to get there.

If you're able to unlock your superpowers, I can guarantee you will get the following results. You'll be able to double your email open and click rates. You'll be able to increase your sales quota fulfillment to almost 10% higher than it is now and, most importantly, you will know customers are ready to buy before they tell you.

From Reactive to Predictive

That sounds pretty good, right? But what do you have to do to get there? You need to change, because right now many people are using reactive marketing and that's the first thing that I want to discuss.

Reactive marketing is what we're used to using — blasting emails hoping that someone converts and then following up with them. We spend a lot of money on TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, Google AdWords ads, etc. What we're really doing is interrupting people with outbound marketing, which gets in the way of someone as they're trying to do something. For instance, when I want to watch the Super Bowl, your ad gets in the way of me watching the game. When I want to listen to my favorite song on the radio, your ad interrupts me. Right now, most of us use advertising that interrupts.

The word advertising is so important. We need to make a distinction between advertising and marketing. Advertising is when we're trying to interrupt and sell someone something that they don't necessarily want. Marketing, on the other hand, is teaching someone about the market or the industry so they realize that they need or want your product. Instead of going the advertising interruption route where we're waiting for contact form submissions so we can call, email, and send them postcards, we need to change our approach and focus on an Inbound Marketing approach.

An Inbound Marketing approach is better than a reactive marketing approach because it's not as desperate. If we can create content that attracts people to us, we'll create a better opportunity for people to show us what they want and we'll have higher open and click rates.

Scott told me this great story about Inbound Marketing. There were two guys in Ireland in 1953. They went out hunting one day and they couldn't find anything to shoot. So, of course, they started having a debate about which bird is the fastest game bird in Europe. They had this debate back and forth and, because this was before the Internet, they went to the library, looked up the answer and discovered it's the golden plover.

Then they had this idea that there were probably other people out there sharing crazy debates about random, weird things. So they said, “what if we put all the answers to these stupid questions in a book and gave it away?” So they did just that. They gave away 1,000 copies of the book and it became so popular that people started to ask if they could buy it. That book became one of the greatest selling books of all time — The Guinness Book of World Records. One of the guys who was out hunting that day was the brewmaster of the Guinness Brewery. It took Scott 31 years on a visit to Dublin to realize that The Guinness Book of World Records was actually started by the Guinness Brewing Company.

When you think about it, this is the perfect example of Inbound Marketing or content marketing. The two men realized that people are probably drinking when they are engaged in crazy debates. And, especially in Ireland, they are probably drinking a Guinness.

This is what we need to do as automotive dealers. We need to educate people about why they need a new car with better gas mileage and how they can keep their car safe no matter what brand it is. Because we know that if more people are interested in driving and servicing their vehicles, some of them will come to us. This is what Inbound Marketing is all about. If we're not using the Inbound Marketing technique, what we're doing is essentially spam. I love this photo because on the box that says crazy tasty as if Spam needed that as a reason for people to buy it. The number one ingredient as you can see is pork with ham.


Spam has a close place to Scott's heart. His grandpa actually worked at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota. He was a hog buyer. That meant he drove around the farms and bought hogs from farmers. On one of his trips, he had this moment of infamy. He was at a farm with his shotgun in the back of his Hormel station wagon. Imagine one of those long, white, '50s station wagons and all of a sudden, bang! The shotgun goes off and his station wagon becomes a convertible. About a week later, the head of Hormel sent a letter to every single sales rep in the country saying Marvin Meyer shot a hole in his roof — meaning you can no longer carry firearms in your station wagon.

Buying Has Changed

This method of targeting people in a negative way is not the type of marketing we want to do. Instead, we want to create content that brings them to us so we can talk to them in a positive way. And we don't want to spam them. We need to do this because buying has completely changed.


The 2014 DMEautomotive survey found that 80% of buyers use the Internet to buy a vehicle and, on average, they visited at least 10 web pages. That means your customers are asking Google questions about their cars. Should I get an SUV or should I get a high gas mileage car? Should I get the winter package or not? What kind of tires do I need? They are learning about all of these things on the Internet. If they can learn them from you instead, they're much more likely to trust you and come purchase from you.

So if you put out your Guinness book or your content that's going to get them talking, you'll be the one that they'll come visit. And it’s likely they won't visit anyone else because 68% of people visited two dealerships or fewer when they were buying in 2014. And almost 50% either took no test drive or only one test drive, with one car. So if you can get them into the store based on your online information, you are going to increase your sales quota dramatically.

We need to adjust to this buying cycle and our email marketing practices because email actually has the highest conversion rate of any traffic source — almost two times more than search and three times more than social. So if we're able to not scare people away but bring them to our site so we can watch and listen, and then send them the exact information they need because we know what they're interested in.

Ultimately, our customers are unique snowflakes. Just like a snowflake, you need to look closely to see that each one is different. When we apply this to our customers, it’s apparent that we can't just blast an email to everyone but that we need to actually look at their contact information and treat them like the individuals they are. If we can do that, we will set aside the reactive marketing practices and begin our Inbound Marketing journey.

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This post only covers the first ingredient of the predictive analytics recipe — be sure to head over to our blog homepage and subscribe via the form that pops up at the bottom so you get the second and third ingredients in your inbox!