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Jared Hamilton
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Make a Resolution to Save Marketing Dollars

As we quickly finish up January and move into the second month of the year, you may already be able to see the predicated trend of rising vehicle sales for 2015. Vehicle sales is the number one indicator of success in the auto industry from year to year. However, I’m sure there are a number of other metrics you use to determine your yearly success, like customer retention, CSI scores, RO count, revenue, etc. All of these key performance indicators are important to you and the success of your dealership.

Due to the nature of our business, we always ask dealers to look at their marketing spend and cost per sale and service as a metric of success. For many of the dealers, we see an average marketing spend of $50,000 - $150,000, depending on the size of the store and allocated funds. At the core of our business, we strive to reduce a dealer’s marketing spend and find ways to drive down the cost per sale and service. Today, I’ll share five ways you can leverage our best practices and make a resolution to save marketing dollars.

Data Collection
One of the biggest wastes in the marketing world is inaccurately delivering campaigns. Specifically, delivering a campaign to the wrong physical or email address. Make it a point in 2015 to gather this information from your customers and input it accurately into your CRM or DMS. Think about putting processes in place so that each and every time one of your employees interacts with a customer, they ensure pertinent information is updated and correct so your marketing campaigns are delivered accurately and reach the right person.

Deliver Email
A great way to bring down marketing spend is by delivering email communications instead of direct mail. We all know that there are some communications that are best delivered through a direct mail channel; however, there are many that can be sent via email and will obtain the same response rates as a direct mail campaign. The truth is, when used correctly, an email is a fraction of the cost of a direct mail campaign.

Series Campaigns
If you aren’t convinced or aren’t ready to jump in with both feet and commit your marketing to an email delivery channel, think about creating a series of campaigns. Since email is the cheapest delivery channel, try communicating with customers first with an inexpensive email campaign. If you do not elicit the desired response from an email campaign, follow it up with a direct mail communication. Many customers will respond to an email campaign, which will save you on direct mail spend.

Segment Database
Not all customers react to the same type of marketing, so why would you market the same way to every customer? I know you’ve probably heard this before, but in today’s oversaturated marketing world, it’s true. Think about segmenting your database based on purchase behavior. Your new car customers will need to be simply reminded of their vehicle’s service needs, which can be accomplished with an email campaign. These customers have just purchased a vehicle and want to keep up on its maintenance to ensure their vehicle is running properly. Whereas a big ticket service customer, someone who is going to the independents for their minor maintenance, but coming to you for their major repairs, may need an email and direct mail campaign to drive them into your service drive on a more regular basis. Segmenting your database by purchase behavior is a great way to save on marketing.

Leverage Social Media and Reviews
In case you’ve been living under a rock, let me tell you, your customers are going online before coming to your dealership. Buyers are more educated than ever before on their purchase decision and who they will purchase from. Social media and review sites are free to join and cost very little advertising spend to promote. Your buyers are likely visiting these types of sites when deciding on who to buy their vehicle from or where to service their vehicle and one bad review can cost you up to 30 customers. By creating a positive online presence and filling social media and review sites with content from customers promoting your dealership, you’ll attract buyers and customers and lower your advertising spend.

With 2015 just starting, now is the time to reevaluate your marketing spend and figure out how to do more for less. These tips are really just the beginning and should provide you thought starters to implement new policies, practices, and processes for your 2015 marketing. This is your year to make a resolution to save marketing dollars.

Megan Barto
Great insights, data collection is imperative to the rest as without proper data (phone number, e-mail address, even physical address), you won't be able to reach you customers to market to them!
Kristen Williams
Agreed. We find data collection is often a missed opportunity within the dealership and can be improved very simply. Thank you for comments.

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