2011 To-Do List

Five tweaks to your dealership marketing that mean business


With the New Year well underway, have you thought of any dealership resolutions you could make that would truly make a difference this year? Chances are, if you're reading this, you're doing a lot of things right. But this year, if you're looking for key differentiators that will drive greater profitability, consider these best practices.


1. Generate service department reviews.


Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they would consider using online reviews when determining where to take their car for service. It’s a good bet your dealership is focused on generating sales department reviews, but are you focused on service department reviews as well?


2. Post website content for the service department.


Why is it that service departments generate 80 percent of the dealership profits, but most dealership websites contain 80 percent sales department content? Consider these ideas for quality service-related content:


·         Include content with information about why your customers should bring their car to you for service instead of the light repair guy down the street, for example your factory-trained technicians and competitive pricing.


·         Video works especially well for this. Show them some of the specialized equipment that you have and make a point about your genuine OEM parts. Video increases engagement by 2.7 minutes more per visitor!


3. Collect every customer email address.


Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately the average dealership has less than 10 percent accurate email addresses for their total customer base. Crazy when you think that the average direct mail service reminder costs 55 cents compared to an email reminder which costs a fraction of that—usually 4-14 cents each when you factor development and service costs. Even more crazy when you realize that email reminders are infinitely more flexible, trackable, and even better for the environment, which studies show is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Tip: Use this angle when asking a customer for their email address. It works!


4. Use short, high impact subject lines.


Smart dealerships know the value of email marketing. Smarter dealerships know the value of the subject line. Email subject lines make the difference between success and failure. Sixty-nine percent of consumers decide whether to open, hit “report spam,” or use the delete button based on the email’s subject line. Given that, here is a best practice: use the customer’s name and specific vehicle in the subject line whenever possible to increase conversion rates. Remember, however, brevity is key. Click-through rates are 75 percent higher for emails with 49 or fewer characters than those with 50 or more.


5. Deploy pull vs. push service marketing.


Think about this. You get home, grab the mail, head into the house, and flip through the pile of envelopes, flyers, and catalogues. If you’re like most people, you set aside one or two items and dump all the others right in the trash or recycling bin. Why? Because you can easily spot what is relevant to you and what is not. Reality check: Your customers are doing the same thing with the service reminders you are sending them. How do you change that?

Switch your service marketing from a push strategy to a pull strategy. Push is where you decide what to send and when to send it (just like those guys filling your mail box with spam). Pull is where your customers tell you what they want you to send and when to send it. This is the next generation in service marketing. It reflects how marketers in other verticals are changing tactics to improve results. And the results are impressive—response rates for a pull strategy are typically 13-20 times higher than with push marketing. Why? Because your customers know they’re getting something they asked for that is relevant to them. Look for service marketing providers that feature this, and go easy on the unsolicited email blasts and direct mail campaigns.


Kevin Root is the senior vice president of product strategy for DriverSide. If you have any questions about dealership best practices that are sure to bolster your service revenue, please email kroot@driverside.com.





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