Data offers amazing opportunities for brands to understand current and potential customers better, engage in more relevant ways, and by doing that, make marketing budgets stretch as far as they possibly can.

Companies that pre-date the Internet often face the problem of data being siloed within departments or being retained on systems that are outdated and/or incompatible with each other. Useful data and its location can also be forgotten due to staff churn. Poor or inaccessible data results in impaired decision making. In order to effectively use your data in your marketing efforts, it’s important to have all of your data in one place.

Hertz recognised it needed to improve its data gathering and analytical capabilities so that its decision making could be improved. The firm had to audit its current data sources, figure out what new data touch points it might need to access and bring as much data as possible together in one platform. Hertz realised it needed a flexible and single source of truth.

To kick off its action plan to be a “best-in-breed” digital business and understand potential customers Hertz chose Google Analytics Premium (GAP). This meant that the Hertz marketing team could easily integrate analytics and customer data, via Google Analytics, in its online marketing strategy.

Hertz, along with London-based agency Forward3D, started working on customising their Universal Analytics setup to record as much information as possible via the custom dimensions feature. The use of custom dimensions allows a team to import data from the website into Google Analytics.

Amongst other signals, Hertz started recording a customer’s loyalty programme status, the number of rental days they booked or searched for, preferred vehicle category and the location and date of pick-up.

Then the company invested in making sure Enhanced Ecommerce was implemented and that the numbers matched up with internal sources. The Enhanced Ecommerce functionality allows a team to see when customers added items to their shopping carts, started the checkout process, and completed a purchase. It can also identify segments of customers who are falling out of the shopping funnel.

Hertz also connected its Google Analytics Premium (GAP) account to DoubleClick Campaign Manager, which allowed display impression data to flow into GAP. With this process in place, it was time to start making smart use of the rich data now being collated.

Hertz wanted to discern which visitors were sending the clearest signals of intent, where extra investment could lead to more business and how business could be directed towards certain locations on particular days of the week.

Extracting answers from Google Analytics requires analytical and interpretation skills. The ability to measure and understand the impact of changing the weighting of different marketing channels is essential. This is where a genuine partnership with a tech provider proves its worth. A Google attribution measurement specialist trained the Hertz team in how to extract and read GAP data reports. The company also worked with Forward3D to help extract as much value as possible from these new insights.

This has resulted in extensive usage of first party data for Hertz. On search, Hertz is now able to customise its ad creative and bids based on whether a user has transacted before, whether he or she is a returning user, or to what Hertz loyalty programme they belong.

Hertz has also integrated Smart List into its search and remarketing strategy. Smart List is a Google Analytics feature that uses machine learning technology to dynamically maintain an audience list of the top 15% of visitors who are most likely to convert on their next visit. Excluding previously converted visitors, Smart List-targeted search ads are now driving a search click-through rate of more than 34% and a cost-per-acquisition that is less than 10% of overall search CPA.

Hertz is now using display advertising to help shift excess inventory. It can target Google Analytics audiences that have shown intent to rent cars at certain locations for certain times of the year or days of the week with a highly relevant message or offer. By having invested in data centralisation and providing training to extract meaningful insights, Hertz has improved its ability of offering an attractive car rental offer at the appropriate moment to prospect customers. The company’s digital transformation is paying dividends for the brand and delivering clear benefits to the bottom line.