Many dealers face the ongoing challenge of how to effectively reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showrooms and service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. Consumer shopping habits have shifted in recent years, away from traditional mass media platforms like TV, print and radio, toward more targeted and digital mediums that include targeted direct email and mail, internet, and mobile. Dealerships that do not understand targeted and digital marketing continue to see diminishing returns with traditional mass marketing that continues to be costly and nearly impossible to measure.
Today, the most successful dealers are using targeted and digital mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing. The key to their success is integrating all their targeted and digital advertising to maximize their results, however, this can also present a challenge as the average dealer works with multiple vendors to execute their entire marketing strategy which results in different strategies, messages and designs that too often are not integrated with one another.
East Charlotte Nissan has found a solution by implementing an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums using one marketing partner to attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing.
“Our sales are up 20 percent over the same period last year, but we’re actually up 34 percent within our top-selling zip codes because we took steps to more clearly define our audience within our primary market,” says Geoff Secora, General Manager of East Charlotte Nissan.
East Charlotte Nissan began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within the local market. The results enabled East Charlotte Nissan to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify same-brand owners who had never visited East Charlotte Nissan, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Nissan.
Once East Charlotte Nissan had more clearly defined their market, they implemented a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct email and mail campaigns that consistently speak to customers throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle with custom messaging that includes: a thank you and welcome message for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders for newer vehicles not yet in-equity but that may be due for recommended maintenance, and ongoing targeted email and mail sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, East Charlotte Nissan promotes its best sales offers with custom service offers that reflect the service status of the customer’s vehicle. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $16.95 “Tire Rotation & Multi-Point Inspection” coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with East Charlotte Nissan, receive the same offer but for $6.95 to encourage them to come back.
East Charlotte Nissan also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Nissans but did not buy from them. This is unique because most dealers use the manufacturer’s service marketing program which often limits a dealer to only communicate with customers that have purchased directly from their store, but also limits the dealer from contacting numerous conquest opportunities within their market. If a dealer only has 30 percent market share, they are essentially missing out on an additional 70 percent of the area’s service market. East Charlotte Nissan recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers.
Another component to the East Charlotte Nissan’s strategy is that every outbound targeted email and mail campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the email or mail campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that East Charlotte Nissan is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they just received they can check East Charlotte Nissan’s campaign conversion site, www.EastCharlotteNissanOffers.com, for other available offers.
“This site is already proving to be a great value ad. It looks incredibly professional, it ties in with all our sales and service promotions and we’ve seen an increase in the customer traffic printing coupons from the site,” says Secora. “Plus it’s completely low maintenance for us because it’s updated every month by our marketing company.”
When customers visit the dealership they see POS merchandising throughout the store that validates the advertising message they recently saw online or received in the mail, further building credibility and helping increase the closing ratio.
In addition to their targeted and digital campaigns, East Charlotte Nissan also recently implemented a unique strategy that specifically targets vehicle sales within their service lanes. This program, the “Vehicle Exchange Program” is integrated across East Charlotte Nissan’s web site, campaign conversion site, the showroom and service lanes, as well as their direct mail. “The key to this program is the confirmation call that our call center places to confirm the customer’s service appointment. If a customer is in an equity position, our call center informs them that they are eligible to upgrade into a new vehicle for the same payment as their old vehicle,” explains Secora. “So rather than wait and hope that the customer will buy from us when they’re ready, we proactively try to sell the customers in service before they enter the market and shop our competition.”
“The best customer that any dealer can find is one they already have because customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company that East Charlotte Nissan uses for their sales and service marketing.
East Charlotte Nissan provides customers with minor and major service reminders and contacts them when their warranty is about to expire to offer extended service agreements, as well as when the customer is in an equity position and can sell their vehicle or upgrade into a new car for the same payment with compelling offers delivered through email, text, and direct mail.
To measure the effectiveness of all their marketing strategies and ensure quality customer care, East Charlotte Nissan uses a call-monitoring system to track their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership. They receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that enables them to see which ad campaigns generate the best response and pre-empt any potential customer concerns before they escalate – which improves their overall CSI and helps create lifelong satisfied customers.
Up 20% in Sales and 13% in Service, East Charlotte Nissan Increases Profitability with Integrated Marketing Strategy
What they do:
- Conduct comprehensive market research to clearly define their local market.
- Identify the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with their dealership.
- Speak consistently to their customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
- Drive consumer traffic to their custom campaign site that promotes all their sales and service offers.
Resources they use:
- DMS: Reynolds and Reynolds www.ReyRey.com
- Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity Marketing www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com
- Call Monitoring: CallRevu www.CallRevu.com
- Define your ideal local market by finding the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with your dealership now and in the future.
- Create dynamic, cohesive campaigns that consistently speak to your customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
- Consistently target in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands you sell.
- Drive consumer traffic to a custom campaign conversion site that promotes all your sales and service offers to help increase your internet sales and service leads.