Archive for December, 2010

Car Dealerships and the Importance of Internet Search Returns

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

It was once said in a popular television campaign that “image isn’t everything… it’s the only thing.”  In the landscape of online search results for automotive direct marketing, the same mantra applies: being in the top three pages of search rankings isn’t everything… it’s the only thing.

With customer’s decisions becoming more and more based upon online search, bolstering campaigns that yield top returns can not only yield positives, but it can also improve the all-mighty metric: return on investment (ROI).Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

According to a study conducted by iProspect and JupiterResearch in 2008, landing in the upper tier of search results – the first three pages of a simple search – has significant benefits.

  • 68% of search engine users typically click on a result that appears on the initial landing page that comes up through a search query
  • 92% of search engine users typically click on a result that appears on the first three pages
  • 39% of search engine users link search result placement to a company’s prominence

Additionally, statistics show that a user is 48% more likely to change the terms of their search (rather than sticking with their current search terms) if their search is associated with a good or a service.  The same study points out that 49% of web users continue to change their search term in order to yield better results.  Respondents also strongly indicated (91%) that they change their search terms if the results didn’t appear on the first three pages.

This data shows just how important it is for a dealership to appear in search results on the first three pages.  By utilizing content that’s properly optimized and keyword enriched, the appropriately tailored direct marketing plan can achieve organic returns on the first three pages of a web user conducted search, and therefore get the audience attention your brand needs to drive traffic.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Building Your Dealership’s Online Presence

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Before the age of the Internet, gathering information for a new vehicle required taking a look at the local paper or paging through a manufacturer’s booklet.  Driving down to your local dealership for a test drive it was something that was part of the norm.  In some of those cases, it may have necessitated a phone call to schedule an appointment to get a hands-on experience. Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

Today’s automotive marketing efforts now open us to numerous possibilities to gather information for a new vehicle purchase, especially with access to the Internet.  With a few finger taps on the keyboard or a few clicks of the mouse, we have 24/7 access to automotive reviews (both professional and peer), reliability ratings and pricing details for any make or model that may fit into a targeted purchase.

At this point in the automotive buying process, it’s crucial that online car dealer marketing be effective.  To do so, a dealership needs to develop an online presence that stands out among a crowded landscape and gives the consumer a need to visit their sites and showrooms.

The follow represent just a handful of points to consider when putting an online plan in motion.

Engagement. As social media continues to make inroads in all facets of automotive marketing, the most important aspect is that it provides engagement with the customer.  With the emergence of Facebook as a social media dominator, it’s vitally important in establishing a presence on that medium to build a robust online brand.

Reach. As noted in previous posts, the Internet offers “active reach.” Teamed with a traditional car dealer marketing plan (mailers, collateral coupons, etc.), automotive dealers now have unprecedented reach in offering prospects information on future sales, service specials and more.  Putting more relevant details into the right hands helps enhance reach, can improve sales and offers a better return on investment.

Choice. Developing a dealership’s online presence also offers the ability to tailor messages to specific targets.  Recently, we touched upon being proactive in your automotive marketing campaigns.  Within that entry, there were four key points (control, active listening, engagements and staying on point) that give planning online some clout.  When coupled with the identification of active and non-active prospects, these plans can help improve the efficiency of marketing campaigns.

A strong, online presence should consist of many key elements that help establish the dealership’s standing and reputation amongst peers.  A plan that offers engagement, reach and choice provides automotive marketing campaigns a solid starting point and lays the groundwork for establishing an online presence.

In the future, we will delve further into this topic and explore how each of these points can prove valuable for your dealership.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

How Set It And Forget It Can Drive Traffic to Your Dealership

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

In the customer retention management field, automotive retention programs that allow for users to ‘opt-in’ for continuous updates on their vehicles serve as an important tool for automotive dealerships to drive customers into their service centers.

In fact, automotive dealerships use multiple channels of communication such as targeted direct mail, voice messaging and emails to make sure they’re always in touch Missy Jensen - DMEautomotivewith their customers.  By using data segmentation techniques, these solutions allow dealerships to save on costs by sending out crucial information to relevant targets.

The following are some benefits in using a set it and forget customer retention strategy to help drive traffic into your dealership and help with your overall return on investment (ROI).

  • Right offer, right time. One of the primary advantages of a targeted marketing plan is delivering the right offer, to the right person, at the right time.  If a customer is coming out of a lease arrangement, a well-timed email informing them of some leasing offers can help pique your customer’s interest in a new vehicle.
  • Budget appropriately. When putting together direct marketing initiatives, it’s easy to want to have grand plans and want to do anything you can to increase that ROI for your dealership.  But take a deep breath: if you’ve strategized right and used all the tools available to you (email, texting, social media and an properly maintained database), you can have a very budget-friendly campaign that delivers results.
  • Be aggressive – to the right targets. With any direct marketing campaigns, there are two sets of targets: customers that actively consume offers that come their way and inactive ones that either read the offer and forgets it or simply tosses it aside without batting an eye.  It’s the latter that an aggressive, discounted promotional campaign should be directed towards.  By doing so, you’ll give them incentive to come to your dealership for such items as brake specials, services and wheel alignments.

Putting together effective targeted direct marketing campaigns that use multiple channels helps increase response rates and augments your chances of reaching customers.  It also ensures that you’re always communicating with them the way they want to receive communications.  So if you’re timely with your targeted direct mail offers, budget your plans appropriately and are aggressive in your offers with inactive customers, you’re well on the road to a rock solid ROI on your efforts.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

The Power of Personal Communications in Automotive Marketing

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

When was the last time you were in the airport?

Did you have a lot of personal communication? Did you see people speaking with one another, laughing, conversing and seemingly having a great time? Paul Ryan, DMEautomotive

Our guess is probably not.

Instead, you probably saw people glued to their laptops, iPhones® or smartphones.  Today’s consumers are glued to their electronic devices, constantly seeking information in an age where they must have it and have it now.

Because of the diverse demand of consumers’ time, their attention span can be very limited.

In order to participate in this quick game, you need to be invited to communicate with the customer.  It is important that you are personally invited to their home arena; the consumers’ door must be open to communication with you.   The only way that can be done effectively is through a Personal Communications Invitation.  When the consumer opts in for you to “Touch Base,” you are being invited to communicate by any number of means: direct mail, e-mails or other correspondences.

When given this opportunity, do not take this invitation lightly: be courteous as to avoid having them opt out.  Once invited, utilize that “golden ticket” as an excellent opportunity for ROI potential.  When you can get that opportunity to speak to the consumer on a personal level, it’s like they’re saying “I like you and I want to talk to with you about what you can offer me.”   When in this position, your Marketing Communications must have:

  • Strategy
  • Target
  • Theme
  • Message
  • Call to Action
  • Urgency
  • Consistency

In my next blog, we’ll delve into the topic of The Art of Acquiring New Automotive Customers.

Happy planning…

~ Paul Ryan, Field Account Manager @ DMEautomotive

Bio: Paul Ryan brings over 25 years of experience in sales, sales management, marketing, and client services. He joined DMEautomotive in February of 2008, as a Regional Territory Manager. With proven success as an inside sales representative selling the FullCircle Solutions’ Bullseye program, he was recognized frequently as Sales Person of the Month and received the highest honor of Sales Person of the Year for 2008. In August of 2009, Paul managed, “Direct-To-Dealer” – Mail Division, responsible for overseeing the sales for the “Direct-To-Dealer” Mail Division. Currently he is traveling in the Midwest as Field Account Manager. Paul graduated with a B.B.A, in Business Administration from Iowa State University in 1982.

Quality over Quantity: Creating Relevancy to Your Message

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

In the earlier days of direct email marketing, the line of thinking by many car dealers was to send as many messages as possible to get the consumer’s attention.  It wasn’t about the message’s relevancy, it was simply an effort to grab the consumer’s attention and say, “Hey, we’re here! Click me for more information!”   It wasn’t unprecedented, however – its predecessor direct mail marketing was often used in the exact same way.Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

Over time, marketers using direct mail and email have made adjustments to make their efforts and objectives more pointed and relevant to their targeted clients.  By narrowing down selected targets through initiatives like database cleansing, direct marketers are finding that it’s not the amount of mailing pieces being distributed to intended targets; it’s the relevancy and quality of the message that’s important.

What other considerations are there in having more relevant, targeted campaigns?

The simple answer as to why car dealers should opt for quality over quantity in their marketing efforts is “it saves money.” The more elaborate explanation is that by using an updated client database, the campaign is more likely to benefit from a better return on investment because the right message is being delivered to the right people – at the right time.

DMEautomotive’s Paul Ryan recently noted that using themes for automotive direct marketing campaigns can make the sales doors swing.  Opting for themes in your customer retention campaigns can be highly effective in producing revenue for car dealerships due to the timeliness of the message.  Companies such as DMEautomotive offer customer retention programs that offer thematic campaigns that dealers can choose, implement and send with a click of a button and only a few pieces of information.

The pitch of the targeted direct marketing should have effective content.  The content needs to draw the prospect in and get them to act on the offer.  Offers of discounted oil changes, reduced services on a next visit or even car washes on every visit can be effective tools to getting in the consciousness of the consumer when it comes time to make car decisions.

When it comes to the actual “hook or pain” of your automotive service marketing campaigns, it’s how the message is delivered to your target that grabs their attention. When you’re thinking about your direct marketing materials, you should consider:

  • Is it pointed?
  • Should I use direct mail or email?
  • Is it professional?
  • Would a postcard or a tri-fold mailer be more effective?
  • How is the pitch delivered?

In automotive marketing, it is true what the old adage says: quality rules quantity.

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Bio:
Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at missy.jensen@dmeautomotive.com and check her out on LinkedIn.

Creating Consistent Messaging Creates Meaning for Your Customers

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

In my last blog, we discussed how having a “hook” or theme to your direct marketing campaigns must have a“pain” or reason to motivate your customers to visit your dealership and drive sales traffic.  We also discussed how your hook and pain must have a regular message for all your targeted direct mail (TDM) pieces.   Each of these stories or messages should contain one element that grabs your prospect’s attention and brings them into your automotive dealership.Paul Ryan, DMEautomotive

So what message, story or images will you be using to make those doors swing on a consistent basis, while grabbing your customers’ attention?

Create a consistent story, of course.

What do you want your customers to think of when they hear your dealership’s name? Consider the following “cause-effect” messages when evaluating your TDMs.

  • Price – “Home of the Always Lowest Price”
  • Sales / Selection / Inventory – “Largest Inventory”
  • Customer Service – “Your Satisfaction is Guaranteed”
  • Service – “Most Service Bays in the Area”
  • Friendliness/Convenience – “Service with a Smile”
  • Trust – “Where the Handshake Makes the Deal”

Whether you’re a price driven or a service driven dealership, you will want to keep your message simple and consistent. But more importantly, it’s the message that creates meaning for your customers.  Is your message making them feel like they can’t be without your goods or services?

That “feel good” message should pop into mind whether they need brakes (“Best Certified Mechanics in Town!”) or they need a new car (“Largest Inventory and Best Prices Around!”). It should leave the customer with the feeling that they need not go anywhere else when making their decision.  As a car dealer-marketing specialist, always promote that real message consistently.  After all, it is the reason why the consumer comes to think of your dealership in the first place.

In my next blog, we will discuss The Power of Personal Communications in Automotive Marketing.

Happy planning…

~ Paul Ryan, Field Account Manager @ DMEautomotive

Bio: Paul Ryan brings over 25 years of experience in sales, sales management, marketing, and client services. He joined DMEautomotive in February of 2008, as a Regional Territory Manager. With proven success as an inside sales representative selling the FullCircle Solutions’ Bullseye program, he was recognized frequently as Sales Person of the Month and received the highest honor of Sales Person of the Year for 2008. In August of 2009, Paul managed, “Direct-To-Dealer” – Mail Division, responsible for overseeing the sales for the “Direct-To-Dealer” Mail Division. Currently he is traveling in the Midwest as Field Account Manager. Paul graduated with a B.B.A, in Business Administration from Iowa State University in 1982.

Capitalizing on Vehicle Ownership Retention in Direct Marketing

Friday, December 10th, 2010

With the global economy slowly bouncing back from the depths of a recession, automotive manufacturers are expecting to see a similar bounce back in vehicle sales and leases.  Assuming that both trends go hand in hand that people are more willing to spend on cars thanks to an increase in consumer confidence – automotive direct marketers may be emboldened to try and capture these newly-interested customers with new vehicle marketing campaigns. Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

But will new vehicle purchases really rule the day for automotive marketing?  In actuality, customer retention and automotive service marketers may be the ones benefitting the most from the economic upswing.

Why?

In research conducted by R.L. Polk & Co., a premier provider of automotive information and marketing solutions, the trend appears to be heading in another direction – a growing number of vehicle owners are holding onto their vehicles longer than expected.

The study notes that in 2001, vehicle owners held onto their automobiles for 47.5 months.  Fast forward to 2010’s second quarter, and the data shows that rate has climbed to 52.2 months.  Some factors that contribute to this rising number may include the economic climate, tighter financing rules by lenders, warranties/extended warranties, and the increase in vehicle durability ratings.

So how can automotive customer retention and service marketing campaigns capitalize on the trend of owners keeping their vehicles for longer than expected?  DMEautomotive recommends developing proactive, multi-channel communications that talk to your customers about your retention and service programs. Broadcast your customer loyalty initiatives, or create seasonal service campaigns.

When these initiatives are successful, you not only build your service base and reach customers who hold onto their cars – you’ll also create relationships for when customers are in the market to make a purchase.  And with the economy starting to trend towards the black, that time may be fast approaching.