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Bill Wittenmyer

Bill Wittenmyer Partner

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The Inflatable Gorilla? Really?

Delivering a better customer experience is not difficult!  We all know that today’s automotive consumer is educated and tech-savvy and that they are in search of transparency and efficiency in not only their shopping experience, but in their buying process and throughout their ownership. 

Sure, it’s great to offer premium coffees and soft drinks, a fun and safe place to keep children occupied or free hot dogs and hamburgers on a busy weekend.  You may even decide that “super-sale” signage and a giant inflatable gorilla is the way to go.  But perhaps we should give our customers more credit than that and customize our processes around their desired experience.    For now, let’s focus on their desired shopping process.  We’ll focus on buying process and ownership experience in future editions.

Data Mining

Whether a customer is looking for a service provider or a new vehicle, marketing to them in a concise and highly targeted manner has never been easier.  A robust data-mining tool should be sitting right inside your CRM tool.  Your email, phone and even SMS campaigns are largely a waste of time and effort if they are not targeted to the right segment of customers within your database.  Examine the ROI of your campaigns carefully.  Examine your opt out rates and unsubscribe rates carefully.   There is no reason for your customers to remain engaged if they are receiving irrelevant or ill-timed advertising messages. 

Do you know when your customers are in equity or when their lease term is about to be complete?  Are you marketing to them accordingly?  You should be taking advantage of direct mail integration here as well.  Don’t waste precious marketing dollars on calls to action that don’t make sense for that consumer.   

Take control of your targeted marketing by making it targeted.  There is no excuse not to with today’s data mining technology!  Here’s a very specific example for you:  Find customers in your data base who have been in service within the last 12 months with model years from 2006 thru 2012, who live less than 30 miles from your dealership, with current mileage more than 30,000 & less than 99,500 and have not serviced in the last 10 Days. Exclude anyone you have already marketed to in the last 90 days and anyone that’s purchased within the last 18 months.  Offer them an enticing service incentive and…Bam!   Let me know what your results are.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile! 

Google states that 47% of all auto inquiries come from mobile sites and that number will rise to over 50% in 2014.  That percentage grew over 460% from 2011 to 2013.  Is your website responsive?  Does it make a mobile user more likely to be able to contact you with ease, or more likely to move down to the next dealer on their Google search page?  It’s not just about them being able to view inventory or click on your “directions” page or even fill out a lead form.  In fact, for every one lead form submitted from your website, mobile users will make 26 phone calls to your dealership.  26 to one! 

I’ll discuss more about mobile apps in future installments of this series, but it’s definitely worth mentioning here as well.  Although statistics show that most of your prospects will simply pick up the phone and call you to discuss their desire to do business at your dealership, let’s not forget about your current customers and how you can make it easier for them to return to your dealership.  A mobile app that can make scheduling service appointments, view service history, receive coupons and incentives, or even view inventory, appraise a trade and submit an offer on a new vehicle.  It’s all about loyalty and keeping them coming back!

SMS Marketing

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Text messaging is the most popular data service in the world and the foundation of any mobile communications strategy. While customers are likely to ignore phone call and emails, a text message rarely goes unnoticed.  Think about how often you will ignore a phone call from an unknown number, or delete an email without reading it.  Now, how often will you delete a text message or let them pile up without reading them?    In fact, recent statistics show that 98% of text messages are read, compared to 22% of emails, 29% of tweets and 12% of Facebook posts.  

If SMS marketing is not in your marketing plan, you should seriously reconsider your strategy! The truth is that SMS campaigns have high engagement rates because they are targeted to an already highly engaged audience.  When a customer willingly hands you their mobile number, they are signaling their willingness to engage via that channel.  If that is their preferred method of communicating, why wouldn’t you tailor your process accordingly? 

Until next time…

Bill 

John Wingle
This article is on-point with regard to the importance of transparency and efficiency in the shopping process for today's tech savvy automotive consumer; yet, your focus on data mining, mobile, and sms suggests that the only avenues for optimizing the customer experience are in the "invitation to the party" component of the shopping process. When it comes to the actual "party," or the shopper's experience at the dealership, blow up gorillas or free hotdogs are not the only options available to dealers to influence the shopping experience. There are key opportunities for information delivery, search and sort optimization, and promotion focus at the dealership itself​. Strategic content delivery and organized search and sort can be facilitated through the use of mobile interactive graphics which can strongly influence shoppers' perceptions of transparency and optimize efficient movement toward the end point in the shopping process – the purchase.
Bill Wittenmyer
Thank you for your comment, John! Stay tuned for parts two and three of the series when I will discuss the "party," or the in-store experience, and the ownership experience...let's call it the "after-party." Have a great weekend!
John Wingle
Sounds great, Bill! Looking forward to parts two and three. In the meantime, and maybe helpful, we have a really good white paper on our site - covering this very subject. I encourage you to check it out if you have a few moments. This is definitely a subject that warrants a lot more attention. Have a great weekend. *We should talk some time.

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