Dealers spend hours planning marketing campaigns and coupons months (even business quarters) ahead of when they will be released. With the hopes that there will be surges in traffic all of which adds to the bottom line. One thing though that I offer we have yet to approach is the harsh reality that the customer is no longer waiting for an email sent to them or (even worse) a mailer with coupons to make a purchase.
Instead, the customer is searching Google (and other search engines) when it comes time to service their vehicle or make additional purchases. One of the searches is "Oil Change Coupon," and to my surprise when I searched that within my zip code 0 dealerships populated within the search results on the first couple of pages.
What did populate was Groupon (one of the largest coupon generators around), and guess who offered the top downloaded coupon for an oil change with over 5k+ positive reviews? Not a dealer. It was a big box store. That said, it was an eye-opener as the customer - while it might seem like a novel idea - is not waiting for the 4th of July to get the 17.76 oil change. Nor are they going to wait for the $20.18 oil change offer. They are going to search Google when it comes time to get their oil changed (or whatever another browser they use), and whoever comes up with the best coupon and reviews will earn their business.
This is not to say that there are not those customers (the best ones) that will continue to do their business with the dealer. But what it does offer is that we have to change the way we approach coupons. And if we want to be on the cutting edge capturing more business (that makes sense) than we have to ensure our specials are visible when being searched.
One of the other biggest takeaways from this search experience was that when we focus on the “smaller” picture by offering an oil change that is “seasonally” referenced, then we cannot expect to see a sizeable marginal increase. As we are only targeting a small group of customers versus offering continued, successful, coupons that are visible in the search engine.
Lastly, the coupon available for the oil change with over 5k+ downloads was not even cheaper than most dealers. In fact, it was $15+ more, which goes to show that a customer (in some cases not all) honestly does not go to the 5th, 6th, or 7th search results page. Instead, they see a coupon in the search results, and click on it! If it has good reviews and it makes sense, they’ll use it.
Bottom Line: First and foremost, if you want to build and or increase business with coupons, which is the point other than internal OEM retention campaigns than we have to start thinking globally ensuring that the offer can also work as a conquest program. Not to mention, it is essential, too, that the coupon is visible on the dealer website along with good content for the customer to easily be able to book the appointment! All without having to give the oil change away!
So do yourself a favor and Google “Cheap Oil Change” or "Oil Change Coupon," and see what comes up. And this is not to say that you will get hundreds more oil change opportunities, but what it does offer is the ability to build the business because you are in front of more people. Think about it, too - most customers do not think about taking their vehicle to a dealer for an oil change. Unless of course, the sales consultant builds that rapport with the customer during the sales to service handoff, which is a whole other conversation!
Do you put coupons on Groupon? If so, have you see success with it? Are Your Coupons Visible to New Customers?