It seems as though auto dealers, as I’m sure many other retail segment managers and owners, are always looking for a magic pill to make their dealership more successful over their competitors. Whether that means leads, sales, web traffic, etc., the thought of “more” is the key component when choosing a new vendor or product. What if I were to tell you, one of your biggest marketing tools is right under your nose and there’s a good probability you aren’t utilizing it effectively?
A Customer Relationship Management system, aka “CRM,” helps you keep track of each of your customers and their shopping cycle. As automotive marketers, we find that getting the right message to our dealership’s current customers is just as important, if not more so, than getting a message in front of a conquest customer. You already have their information and are familiar with their buying habits, so why not use this to your advantage? There are four key items we like to keep in mind when guiding a client on effectively targeting their database: entering data, segmentation, messaging, and nurturing the lead.
1. Data Entry
OK, I know what you’re thinking, “this is a given, right?” Wrong! This is where we see the most flaws when reviewing a dealership’s database marketing process. How can you effectively target customers if the information entered is inaccurate? It’s important to instill your GM or GSM with the habit of holding salespeople accountable for this process. This helps the sales team distinguish where each prospect is in the buying process. This also supports your marketing efforts when sending a targeted message to them down the line (I’ll get to that later on!). While the BDC follows the lead as it comes in, both your salespeople and BDC need to keep the system updated with the lead’s advancement. Outdated data can result in multiple people touching base with a prospect or sending them marketing materials that doesn’t apply to your customer – both in-turn will end up pissing them off, which could deter them from ever making it in your door. You want the data entered in a timely manner and to be extremely detailed.
Now that your customer data is entered in an organized manner, you can start the segmentation process. Think about the messages you want to relay to your database and then break out buckets of people you’d like to target. For customers who purchased a car from you but have never been in for service, send them an email with service incentives – complimentary oil changes are always a hot ticket item to get people through the door. You can take all customers who purchased three or four years ago and send them an email with your lease specials since they’re already in the market or will be in the market soon for another vehicle. You can keep the messages higher level to send to a large list or segment them into smaller, more targeted lists with a more targeted message.
That brings me to the meat and potatoes of database marketing…the message. What’s the point of going through all the trouble to input your data and segment it appropriately if what you have to say isn’t worth it? Your message should be relevant to your audience with appropriate calls to action so your recipients do just that…take action. If it’s a sales email, include a CTA on each vehicle offer that will bring them right into your inventory so they can see all vehicles associated with that special. If it’s a service email, include a CTA on each coupon that links directly to your service appointment page so your customer has no reason not to take advantage of the offer that peaked their interest. Keeping your message relevant and fresh are going to keep your customers intrigued and engaged with your communications.
4. Nurturing the Life of the Lead
At D2D, we know there is no “setting and forgetting” on campaigns and especially when it comes to automotive database marketing. We pride ourselves on being a constant watchdog on all campaigns we run for our clients, and the same mentality should be used at the dealership level. The dealership’s sales, service and BDC staff should be aware of the marketing campaign schedule and all offers being advertised. When a customer is triggered to take action on something that grabbed their attention, it’s important the staff member is familiar with the special offer. Gaining trust with consumers is a huge factor of the buying process and a consistent message in your marketing, as well as at the dealership level, will help solidify this trust. Nurturing the lead after the initial contact is crucial in the buying cycle. Ideal response time to a lead is just minutes so the longer that lead doesn’t hear from your dealership, you’re at risk for your competitors to swoop in and capture their attention, and most likely their business.
Automotive digital marketing isn’t just about capturing conquest customers. While, of course, conquest customers are important, your bread and butter is your current customer database. Automotive database marketing will help make sure these are the people who keep coming back, keep referring friends and family, and feel comfortable buying from you. Before signing up with the next vendor promising XX sales for XX dollars, take a look at what you have right in front of you. Are you really maximizing the potential of this database? Use these four points as a guide when taking a deeper dive into your database marketing.
If you don’t have the bandwidth at your dealership to take this one the right way, or want professional creative done to make the best impression on those in your list, we can help. For more information on service specific CRM campaigns, pop over to our blog “Getting the Most Our of Your Service Department’s CRM.”
Diana began her marketing career more than 12 years ago, starting in public relations, and moving to automotive marketing in 2013. Her extensive background of account management, mixed with her knowledge and experience of digital and traditional marketing, allows her to manage clients and staff effectively and efficiently.
For more information on how D2D can help, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org