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Auto Dealership Direct Marketing Data Choices

Posted by Brian Berg Google+


The Shelby Bill Explained


In June of 2000, the Shebly Bill was put into law which changed the way marketers are were able to use current Department of Motor Vehicle database information. Though the DMV data is still readily available for research purposes, one can no longer identify specific car owners from this database and mail to them. The Shelby Bill did leave some use of this data still intact. It allows “pre-Shebly” data (DMV data made available prior to June of 2000) to continue to be used, and it also allows the current DMV to be used to create predictive models to build a “look-a-like” database that attempts to get close to the real thing. The passage of this bill has spawned a number of new data products for the auto direct mailer.


Polk’s Auto Data Product Line Auto Garage Predictor


The Garage Predictor is an attempt to predict what kind of vehicle a consumer currently owned. This product was created in an attempt to replace the DMV data that was removed from the Shebly Bill passage of 2000. It is created by using current DMV data and creating a predictive model and is said to be approximately 85% accurate. This product is widely popular among auto dealers, is available in all states, and is the closest auto dealers can come to the true auto ownership data from the DMV.


Target Purchase Predictor


The Target Purchase Predictor is an attempt to predict what kind of vehicle a consumer might be in the market to purchase. The data product incorporates a number of additional elements than the Garage Predictor. It looks at the patterns of car purchasing and how people purchase vehicles in succession throughout their life span. This product can also be incorporated with two other interesting features; the Auto Exclusion and the Score Predictor.


• The Auto Exclusion takes into consideration that if a consumer has just purchased a vehicle in, say, the past 12 months, they are likely not going to be in the market today and should be removed from the mailing.


• The Score Predictor takes into consideration a modeled credit score identifier that clusters those lowest credit score individuals and removes them from the Target Purchase Predictor query. Those lowest score below 550 may look as though they are in the market to purchase, but they too will have trouble in the finance department.


Actual Credit Score


Often referred to as Credit Mailers, the use of credit is popular among auto dealership mailers. This is because it focuses only on those potential candidates who will qualify for the financing. There may be less foot traffic in the showroom but there’s a far greater likelihood that if they apply for financing, they’ll be approved. There is one caveat with the use of credit score data and that is that the mail piece must include a “firm offer of credit” as well as disclaimer information noting the opportunities for the mail recipient to “opt-out” of receiving this kind of direct mail solicitation. Your data consultant can describe how the rules apply in greater detail, but be sure not to print your mail pieces before it is approved for credit data.


Modeled Credit Score


For those auto dealerships not interested in making a “firm offer of credit”, a watered down version of the actual credit score is the Modeled Credit Score. This product uses actual credit score data to make a prediction of what other individuals credit score might be. With any predictive modeled data product there will be a degree of error associated with score accuracy. Direct mailers using this product should never use it with a “firm offer” mailer.


Make / Model / Year Self-Reported


Since the Shebly Bill only pertains to the DMV data, other means of collecting automobile make / model / year built data can be used for direct marketing purposes. Self-reported data is captured when the auto owner him/herself declare their vehicle ownership. This is usually done with a 3rd party who makes this data available for a fee. Oil change service centers, auto parts stores, online website survey’s, etc are all examples of self-reporting type 3rd party originators. Collectively, the database of self-reported vehicle owners is still not very large relative to the true number of vehicle owners in the U.S., but as the number of contributors continue to grow, so does the size of the database.


Resident / Occupant


Resident Occupant database information is a saturation level database made available in walk-sequence. The database contains every deliverable household, business, and Post Office Box in the U.S. Since people are constantly relocating and keeping track of their names is difficult, the Res/Occ file doesn’t include names, but instead will include the title “RESIDENT”, or if you prefer, “Dear Car Buyer”, or what have you.


The beauty of this database is that since it is every household, and sorted in walk-sequence, the USPS provides a discount on postage when using this data. It is also the lowest cost database available. These two attributes make it very attractive to many mailers wanting to mail to everyone in a given market territory. Some auto dealers in rural area’s will use this data to reach everyone in there market since the number of people in their market is so small. Mailing to people who are not ideal candidates for your dealership is off-set by the cost savings in postage and mailing list data.


Saturation mailings are also popular with large event mailers where the goal is to bring everyone to the event, regardless of if they qualify for financing. If conducted properly, larger event sales will have a wide variety of cars in stock, many of which available at reduced prices, and a greater number financing options to choose from. Resident / Occupant data can also be enhanced with personalized names where they are available. This is called ResPlus and allows the mailer to deliver a more personalized message.


Where a name is not available, the address simply stays coded with “RESIDENT”, or “Dear Car Buyer”. For more information about what you can do to make improvements with your auto dealer direct mail campaign, talk to one of the many helpful consultants available to you at BB Direct. Visit our website at, call (866) 501-6273, or email us at [email protected]