Direct mail marketing, done well, can be the bread and butter of an automotive dealership’s outbound marketing campaigns, yet young consumers are increasingly distrustful of direct mail messaging. Although consumer skepticism can drive down the response rates of pushy, gimmicky direct mail messaging, that same healthy skepticism can boost conversion rates for messages that offer authenticity and value.
Today’s buyers want to interact with brands that make transparency, value, and customers’ needs top priorities. Direct mail campaigns implemented with careful targeting, transparent messaging, and a focus on customer value can help dealerships achieve just that.
Offer Something of Real Value
Pieces that are all about the dealership and not about the customer are the first to get tossed aside as junk mail. Rather than focusing on your dealership’s products and offers, try focusing on bringing the best possible value to targeted, high-need customer segments.
Bankruptcy discharge mailers, for example, reach out to consumers whose bankruptcy has recently been discharged and who are therefore eager to (1) get into a vehicle again, and (2) to rebuild their credit. Honest, authentic direct mail messages to these targeted audiences can help recent would-be buyers who are starting over reenter the world of positive credit.
Similarly, a campaign such as an earned-discount letter notifying past customers and prospects of real cash discounts they’ve earned with the dealership offer tangible value, without the gimmick. When recipients walk in to the dealership with their discount letter and receive the discount that was promised, their trust in the brand is solidified.
Target Prospects Who Are Already in the Buying Cycle
In their eagerness to blaze new trails by saturating prospective customer markets, dealerships can elicit significantly higher response and conversion rates by focusing on buyers who are ready to make a purchase.
Campaigns such as an email-secret targeted mailer, which puts internal-looking documents about specific make/model sales in the hands of prospects who currently own the same make or model, capitalize on variable data to zero in on qualified buyers. Make/model loyalists with older vehicles are far more likely to respond to an offer for a newer vehicle in their preferred make/model than an untargeted offer.
Dealer invoice mailers are another tightly targeted direct mail campaign that can zero in on current owners of older vehicles of the make/model you want to move.
Incentives such as official-looking handwritten notes on internal documents and realistic checks that can be redeemed will increase the already high conversion rates on these campaigns.
Nurture Relationships With Past Customers
Perhaps the biggest goldmine in any dealership’s database is its list of previous customers. Automotive dealerships with service stations have a huge opportunity to capitalize on their pool of existing customers by securing repeat service and maintenance business, and making past customers aware of relevant offers.
Past customers have a higher response rate to customized direct mail messaging because they’ve already established trust with the dealership’s brand. Pieces like plastic service postcards, which put pop-out wallet and key-fob service cards in the hands of previous customers, create instant top-of-mind awareness, and entice valuable repeat business.
Service mailers can take many successful forms, ranging from simple trifold flyers to realistic-looking rewards dollars customized with variable data. Past customer emails are also a ripe resource that dealerships can mine for repeat business with consistent, relevant messaging.
As long as customers continue to have a positive experience in your service station and on the showroom floor, getting them to return is easy—when your dealership offers something of genuine value. Discounts on routine service visits, exclusive dealer rewards programs, and VIP presale messaging about upcoming offers are all excellent ways to give customers tangible incentive to return.
Jeff Dodson is the founder and CEO of Dodson Auto Group, a family-run business offering automotive professionals everything, from forms and direct mail fulfillment to business card printing and payment solutions, under one roof. With Dodson, businesses can consolidate purchasing into one single supplier, saving time and money. You can reach him at [email protected].
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