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Julie Jamison

Julie Jamison Manager of Product Marketing

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We Need to Talk About Texting!

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I recently read an interesting article about the “death” of email.  As someone who was in her 20s when she first heard her oversized and overpriced computer say, “You’ve got mail,” the idea of email being headed toward extinction was an overwhelming concept when I saw the headline.  I, quite frankly, did not believe it and initially thought it was a ploy to get readers.  It has been quite the technological controversy in the last year.  I’m still on the fence, but I have been considering the concept in regard to automotive marketing and it’s not far-fetched at all!

The Email Conundrum

Like many of you, my company’s email communication is what keeps me in the loop, keeps me in touch with my team, keeps me up to date with tasks and so on.  I don’t see that changing drastically in the near future.  However, I only check my personal email account once a day at most.  I don’t even have email notifications set up on my personal mobile phone, because the “ding” every 5 minutes makes me crazy!  This account is full of spam and sales-based email from companies I may have purchased from long ago and surveys from airlines on which I have flown and restaurants I have visited once. 

Sure, there is the rare “important” email about renewing my insurance or even an occasional coupon for something I really need.  The problem?  I usually miss these emails for several days.  It just spiraled into a mess of communications blended aimlessly with important and pertinent information and crap that means nothing to me.  It’s not unlike what has happened to many people’s mailbox in front of their homes.  They are full of pizza coupons, advertisements for things you don’t need or want, and statements for bills that you have already paid and have access to online – again, with the occasional important piece of mail that you will not read in a timely fashion because of all of the junk that has swallowed it whole. 

The Pavlovian Effect of Text

When I am asked for my email address at a business these days, I politely decline on most occasions.  But I do ask (if it is a business to which I plan on returning regularly) if I can opt in for text message notifications for coupons, sales, events, etc.  Again, I tend to be selective about this practice, but I open these text messages almost 100 percent of the time and usually within minutes.  It’s like Pavlov’s Dog! When I hear a buzz or a ding, I check my phone – regardless of which direction it’s coming from.  Don’t lie – you know exactly what I mean! 

I still remember the first time I sent a customer a text message from my Razor flip phone on a whim when I was selling cars years ago.  I had been frustrated about not getting return phone calls or replies to emails and decided to give it a shot.  He responded within seconds!  [Cue heavenly harp sound effect]  The remainder of our communication, prior to him returning and buying a new car from me, was almost completely via text message.   It was the solution to the constant struggle between being communicative but not overbearing - between never hearing back from the customer and getting immediate response most of the time.  Voila!

What We Know Now

  • Text messages average a 98 percent open rate versus a 22 percent open rate for emails.   
  • Mobile offers are redeemed 10 times more frequently than print offers.
  • The average person looks at their mobile phone 150 times per day, and the only reason that beats out texting is checking the time. 
  • Consumers are much less likely to opt out of text messages than they are email messages.
  • Today’s mobile users prefer texting because it’s more PRIVATE (nobody can overhear a text conversation), more PERMANENT (they can refer back to the information later), and allows them to PREPARE (they can think about how to respond and don’t feel put on the spot).
  • In a recent study, almost half of those surveyed said they were very interested or somewhat interested in corresponding with the dealership via text message after the vehicle purchase.
  • If SMS/text marketing is not part of your strategy, I can all but guarantee that it is part of your competitors'! 

 

What was once sent to your customer’s mailbox, then to their inbox, should now be a TEXT!  What do you think?  Gotta go.  I’m getting a text! 

Bob Stewart
I think you are spot on Julie! You, of course, already knew that, but we've found exactly the same thing with dealers that are using our SMS product. Ours isn't an outbound text service (where a dealer can just text everyone and anyone) but it does allow dealers to respond to incoming text messages from customers who might be interested in a particular car on their lot. What we are finding is if dealers can get past the initial urge to respond with "When can you be here for a test drive???" or "go to our website and fill out a credit app!" when the customer has a specific question about a specific vehicle, consumers are absolutely willing to communicate with dealers via text. Many seem to prefer it for the exact reasons you mention, the most pressing reason being they want to communicate on their terms. And often their terms mean not being exposed to speaking with someone in the beginning. A whole new generation of car buyers are much more likely to communicate this way. It's a fact. They feel in control of the communication. We are a few short years away from consumers expecting to be able to communicate with all businesses via text. If I want a reservation at my favorite restaurant, I will expect to be able to text them and secure that reservation. If I want to know if my local Home Depot has the type of drill bit I need before heading down there to try to find it, I will expect to be able to text them to get an answer. Since we're in this arena, my reticular activator is on high alert for where this is happening already. I saw it the other day at the mall. There was a number plastered on a billboard (of sorts) in the food court that told me I could get answers to any mall-related question I might have by texting a number. To test it out, I asked them where the bathroom was. I had an answer in 30 seconds (which as luck would have it, still gave me enough time to get actually get to the bathroom had I really needed one badly!) And of course, consumers will expect to be able to ask questions about the car they just saw on AutoTrader or Cars.com that is sitting on a dealer's lot. And they will expect to be able to text their favorite dealership and schedule an oil change or service appointment. I'm just rambling on now, but this is such a great post! Consumer behavior has already changed.......it's up to businesses to catch up.
Julie Jamison
Good stuff, Bob! Thanks for the feedback! And you are so right - it's not "changing" behavior...it has ALREADY changed!
Dave Rozek
I think our Edmunds.com Car Code texting tool will replace our LIVE CHAT FEATURE on our websites soon. We are New to using the Edmund's texting product via our BDC's, but in a short time we are noticing positive results and the best part is that the texting feature is FREE at this time. Another great thing to know about texting is that if you ever post a vehicle on Craigslist 80% of the buyers prefer to text you. And for Hispanic buyer's, texting is a first option when offered online.
Julie Jamison
Great Craigslist stat, Dave! Funny fact: I ordered a pizza the other night, gave the delivery guy a good tip because it was late and snowing, and he texted me a "thanks for the tip and thanks for your business" message. I never have received a text message from my pizza delivery guy! Funny part? I ANSWERED HIM before I could even stop myself! Pavlovian response, indeed! Cheers!
Leila Mozaffarian

You can activate your landline number (including toll free numbers) to text. Here is my email: lmozaffarian@zipwhip.com, schedule an appointment with me and I can show you a free demo. 

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