The Key to a Successful Texting Program Is You

The statistics about the growth of texting are staggering.

  • Among cell phone owners, 94% of those ages 30−49 send and receive texts, according to the Pew Research Center, while 75% of those ages 50–64 send and receive texts.
  • According to Frost & Sullivan, 98% text messages are read, compared to 22% of emails, 29% of tweets, and 12% of Facebook posts.
  • The number of text messages sent and received on a monthly basis exceeds call volume across all age groups, reports the Experian Marketing Services and Simmons National Consumer Study.
  • Text messaging (SMS) produces engagement rates six to eight times higher than email, per the HelloWorld Benchmark Mobile Marketing Study, while 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery, according to a mobileSquared report.


It’s obvious that having a solid mobile strategy—one that includes the ability for your customers to text you in a safe and compliant manner—is important in helping your dealership increase sales and improve customer service.

But the success of your texting program hinges on maximizing the consumer’s ability to text your dealership.

This is accomplished by adding a call to action for texting across all your marketing and communications initiatives—including your mobile and desktop websites—to improve customer service, drive more leads to your dealership, and ultimately, enhance your business.

Here are four quick and easy steps to help you add text calls to action across your own communications and marketing channels:

  1. Make all your important phone numbers text-enabled. Technology exists today that offers dealers the ability to text-enable their existing phone numbers, including their main phone numbers, special vanity numbers, service numbers, and call-tracking numbers. The reality is that consumers are probably already trying to text to your current landline phone numbers, but their messages are not being successfully delivered.
  2. Promote “Text or Call” in your online and offline advertising. Anywhere you promote your text-enabled phone numbers, whether in your online or offline advertising, be sure to add “Text or Call” to open new channels of communication with customers who prefer to text. Not only does it offer you the ability to generate new leads from consumers who may not have engaged with you had you not offered them a text option, it enables your existing customers, including your service customers, to engage with you quickly, easily, and the way they prefer.
  3. Feature “Text Us” buttons on your SRPs and VDPs, and other key website pages. Display “Text Us” buttons on your new and used vehicle search results pages, as well as on your vehicle details pages, on your lead forms, and your contact and directions pages on both your desktop and mobile websites. This will help broaden your reach among car buyers and improve your ability to engage and communicate with shoppers who want information about a particular vehicle in your inventory.
  4. Utilize a texting platform to ensure compliance and manage leads. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines are strict when it comes to texts, and fines for noncompliance can run as high as $1,500 per unwarranted text sent. Permission-based texting platforms help enforce proper opt-ins and opt-outs while serving as an effective lead management system to monitor and track communications, since all text communications can be pushed to your CRM for follow-up and lead management.

By maximizing consumers’ ability to text you via your existing phone numbers—including your service numbers, in your online and offline advertising, and at your SRPs, VDPs, and lead forms—you offer them a strong first line of communication to engage with your dealership.

Texting is also a great way for you to initiate communication and reach out to customer prospects after they have opted in—and after you have implemented a texting platform to ensure compliance and manage leads.

Also, don’t forget texting makes an excellent addition to your service business, enabling your service advisors to ask the customer’s permission to text with updates at the time of write-up, and by allowing the customer to text back with questions once they have opted in.

Texting in the auto industry isn’t the wave of the future—it’s here, and it’s here to stay. Be sure your dealership is text-friendly to help improve overall customer service, and ultimately sell—and service—more cars.

Keep in mind the famous line from Field of Dreams: “Build it and they will come.” When you give consumers the ability to text, they will.

Scott Pechstein is VP of Sales for Autobytel Inc., offering the industry a full suite of high quality lead products and marketing services, including Autobytel Mobile and the company’s TextLeads and TextShield products, as well as the innovative SaleMove technology. For more information, call (866) 589-5498, email scottp@autobytel.com, or visit mobile.autobytel.com.

Scott Pechstein

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