Dealership Marketing

I opted-in for your SPAM. Yaaaay!

spamA big thing that is going to rule the future of online solicitations is OPT-IN.  Have you read anything about it yet?  If you haven’t, let’s start with a guy named Seth Godin:

Every year, tens of thousands of people die because organ donor status in the US is opt in. If you want to be an organ donor when you’re dead, you need to go through steps now to opt in. The default is “no.”

…401 (k) plans tend to be opt in. If you do nothing, you get nothing.

Talking to the police after getting arrested is strictly opt out. Nothing to sign, you just talk.

Cheese on your pasta used to be opt out, but now it appears to be becoming opt in.

….So, I’d make organ donation opt out, public religious observance opt in, newsletters opt in and smart financial choices opt out. Anything that tricks a consumer into paying for something ought to be double opt in. And without a doubt, email (and commercial transactions of all kinds) are opt in. Smart for both sides.

What is opt-in email marketing?

It is getting permission to send an email to a customer.  We have a lot of permission systems in our industry typically in the form of Internet leads from third-party sources and our own websites.  But, are you (or your third-party sources) informing the customer you will be marketing to them beyond that first price quote they requested?

  • Are you sending a newsletter to your entire database?
  • Are you sending promotional email blasts?
  • Are you calling customers after 90 days who didn’t respond to one of your emails or submitted another fresh lead?

Let’s forget the law for a minute, and just consider the ethics of this.  I guess we say it is perfectly okay to send a bunch of stuff to anyone you have information on because everyone else does it…….right?

According to reporting in iMakeNews, the national average for automotive newsletters opened is 17% and the national average for clicks (conversion) in your email is 5.1%.  If you send one newsletter to 10,000 people that means 1,700 will actually open the email and you may convert 500 to visit your website.  I’m not going to go into all the details of the conversion to a sale stats because I want to ask the question – What about the other 8,300 people who didn’t open your email? This has absolutely nothing to do with iMakeNews or any other email follow-up – it has everything to do with YOU!

  • Are you sending the right message?
  • Do your customers even want to hear your message?

Dealers (and manufacturers) like SPAM

I have come to the conclusion that dealers are desensitized to spam.  We love it!  And we think everyone else does too.  Let’s send them a mailer, let’s send them an email to back-up the mailer, and let’s have all our salespeople call the customers who got the mailer and the email to make sure they received the mailer and the email!  Recently, 3 of our manufacturers at my dealer group have asked us to do this around their own promotions.

I don’t know about you, but if Best Buy sent me a piece of mail, an email, and called me about the same promotion for the weekend I would immediately have them remove all my information, and IF I continued to shop there, I would do it anonymously.

I might be a little extreme in my mail, email, and call example but I hope it gets you thinking the next time you think of your direct-marketing campaign methods.  We are in a world where the consumer has the choice.  If you want to continue to be a choice you have to play by their rules.

What can you do?

  1. Stop sending email blasts to customers who came from third-party sources unless the third-party source told the customer they were opting-in
  2. Add an opt-in message to your own website
  3. Inform the customers who buy or service cars with you that you will be sending them additional information in the future
  4. Target, Target, Target – if they bought a car yesterday, don’t tell them they can trade it in tomorrow
  5. Make your messages consistent with your brand/image/reputation – don’t have a brand?…how did Obama build his brand quickly?
  6. Have a landing page on your website for the email campaign that entices the customer to move to other areas of your site.

I’m guilty of all this spam-stuff myself.  It has actually worked, but is it the best way to market your brand?  What do you think?  Got any other pointers?

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...