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I have received almost 100 emails in 80 days. That's the number of follow-up marketing emails I have received from an automotive lead collection service after I requested ONE "no obligation" car quote. This was initiated when I submitted an Infiniti car quote request to see how various lead collection services operated.
Will this type of marketing force consumers to enact a Do Not Email Law?
On July 8, 2008 I typed into Google "Red Bank Infiniti" and one of the listing on page one was a new lead collection service called ConnectWithLife. I clicked on the listing because the name seemed odd for an automotive lead website. The listing looks like this:
Find a Local Red Bank NJ Infiniti Dealer - ConnectWithLife Autos ...
Infiniti dealers in Red Bank NJ are competing for your business - Free Price Quotes on New Infiniti in Red Bank Nj, Dealer Price Quotes, ...
www.connectwithlife.com/infiniti-dealers/in-red-bank-nj.html - 205k - Cached - Similar pages
So, I filled out the basic forms and then there was a question checkbox that read:
"I would like to be notified of other ConnectWithLife! money-saving offers".
I interpreted this checkbox as giving ConnectWithLife permission to sell my email address for marketing purposes other than this one car quote request. I made sure it WAS not checked. My interpretation was wrong.
By not checking the box, it meant that other third party companies would not immediately get my email address BUT the company running this site, Reply.com, could send me other offers from website properties that they control. These companies include:
The good news is that I got a car quote from a local dealer within 24 hours. The bad news is that I opened Pandora's email box .
Looking at my inbox shows that to date, 50% of the 90+ emails were for real estate solicitations, foreclosures and home valuation messages. The balance of the emails was car marketing emails of various makes and models. Getting other car sales emails is tolerable but foreclosure and real estate emails has nothing to do with my primary purpose; to get an Infiniti car quote.
I am writing this post because car dealers are hooked on the “drug” of third party leads. For many dealers, third party leads make up the bulk of their Internet car sales. They are easy to buy, cost around $20 per lead, and it keeps their Internet sales team busy. As long as the lead cost is covered by car sales profits, dealers continue to buy. This may seem like perfect business sense but have dealers asked how these leads being collected? Have dealers considered if this lead source is sustainable?
If this amount of email is typical from other automotive lead collection websites, then the future for this lead collection model is bleak. Consumers got fed up with over calling into their homes and created the Do Not Call registry. How long will it take before consumers fight back about over "emailing" from single source sites like this one? Now that I know that I would get approximately one email a day from requesting a car quote, I would never use a service like this again. I would go right to a local dealer’s website.
Can you imagine what consumers mailboxes look like if they visited three or four car quote services? If this is standard practice, they would have hundreds of car solicitation emails in their inbox. This cannot create a great impression for automotive marketing. It doesn't surprise me why consumers are reluctant to give out their email address on pop-up coupons or call to action offers on car websites. They are getting bombarded with emails.
I have requested email price quotes from car dealer websites and I will get one email a month, from most dealers, informing me of their current deals. This is very reasonable since the automotive market thrives on new specials each month.
As long as dealers not abuse the trust given to them by consumers, it won’t take long for consumers to decide that going to dealer websites is the safer choice for car quotes. If this is the case, then the dealers that appear at the top of search listing will benefit. Those with ineffective SEO strategies will suffer.
The dealers who agree with this assessment will make sure they are using the latest in SEO and Internet marketing strategies to get their websites AHEAD of these lead collectors for car searches in their PMA. They will realize that if they don’t build competitive lead collection strategies they will in effect, taken on a new business partner. We have helped a number of our automotive clients build lead collection websites that out rank and outpace lead flow from third party services. Our studies have also shown that lead collected directly from dealer websites have a higher conversion.
The longer car dealers wait to create their own Internet lead collection model, the more vulnerable they become if the email marketing rules change. The DNC list put approximately 50% of outbound telemarketing companies out of business. If third party lead collection services can't make money by email blasting, lead costs could double, triple or just go away.
Over calling by telemarketers was not illegal until consumers fought back. Email blasting is not illegal when consumers volunteer their email address. How long will it take for new email rules to go into effect which require lead collection forms to state how many emails a month will consumers be sent?
The dealer that builds their own collection model can continue to use third party leads as long as they perform, but will have a greater quantity of leads from their own websites. This dealer will have hedged their Internet business sales success and gain back control of their Internet sales future.
If you are looking for new ways to collect more direct consumer leads, give me a call at 732-842-4720 and we can review some strategies that really work, that are dealer owned and controlled.