When I talk to dealers that are disappointed with their email and direct mail marketing results, my biggest question is this:
Why would you send out an email offer to your customers that you would not PAY to send out via direct mail or other methods?
I see it happen all the time. A dealer sends out an email for something such as an AC check for $69.95, or a free multi-point inspection and a filter special. If I were to say to that dealer, “would you spend 89 cents to send that offer on postcard?” Their reply would be a resounding “No!”
Before blasting out an email promo to all your customers, ask: “Would I spend a dollar to send that out?” If the answer is “no,” ask yourself why you think it is okay to send it for free.
To get better results from your marketing campaigns, it pays to be a little more strategic in your approach. Just because email marketing is viewed as “free” does not mean that you can blast out daily offers that have no real value to your customers. This approach will just end up alienating them, rather than driving them into your store.
Plan out your marketing messages for the next few months and make sure you are not sending out messages that you cannot justify as being true offers.
First, take a true account of the database of sales and service customers and segment out customers that are servicing on a regular basis but have never purchased a vehicle; customers that are starting to defect, customers with vehicles two years and older, customers with leases due to expire, etc. Then, and perhaps most importantly, add to this list potential conquest customers — consumers that drive your brand but have never been in for sales or service. This information is available from providers that have databases of lease, loan, insurance and warranty information.
Don’t make the mistake of cherry picking and trying to segment out your database to a ridiculous degree, drilling down for that “perfect” prospect. This tends to make the database too small and ineffective and excludes great prospects – such as the emotional buyer – how do you know when they are ready? You can’t get that just from segmenting your database!
Combine these customers and then split this list over 90-day segments. So as to not over-saturate your customers with marketing messages, but reach them on a good regular basis and get better results, it is best to touch a customer every 90 days. In this way, if you are sending relevant, good quality marketing messages, you can catch that customer when they are ready to make that key purchase decision for sales or service.
Don’t hit them so often that you are training them for a discount. With a long enough window in between they don’t start anticipating a discount. You don’t want to go to the extreme of Bed Bath & Beyond, where the customer won’t even go to the store without their coupon.
So, take that database of 6,000 names and split it into three drops. Then hit that first group of 2,000 people and be sure to place a 60-day expiration on the offer. Send out 2,000 in June; 2,000 in July; and 2,000 in August. And then hit that first group again in September, so you’re not over inundating your customers.
I’ve seen it happen far too often where the dealership sends out a mailer to their entire “prime” list, gets a decent response, and then immediately sends another mailing to the same customers, but this time with less response. And then the dealership sends out another soon after and gets yet another poor response. At this point, the dealer says “Mail stinks!” But what has happened here is poor planning. They mailed all their customers with that first shot and then over-saturated these customers with too many messages, one after the other. It works better to plan it out so you are not hitting these customers too frequently.
Remember, people only buy when they are ready. With this consistent, 90-day approach, you have a better chance of catching them when they are ready, and without turning them off with too many irrelevant offers.
Author: Alexia Henson
Alexia Henson is AutoLoop’s National Director for Direct Mail. She heads up the mail division that supports AutoLoop’s software customers and is responsible for the implementation of sales strategies and training.
Alexia has 18-years of experience in promotional marketing in the automotive industry, along with 18 years of sales experience in B2B. She likes to share best practice tips with her clients and others in the auto industry.