2015 Automotive Online Communications Strategies

Marketing Channels

Communications Channels

In 2015, your dealership’s online communications strategy is more important than ever. This year at Wellington Consulting Inc., 100% of our marketing campaign communications will utilize electronic channels. We strongly encourage dealerships to become increasingly focused on collecting email addresses of customers after vehicle delivery and during the maintenance service checkout process. Email provides an efficient and inexpensive method of communication for dealers to get in touch with their customers, and is a channel of communication that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with.

Utilizing a credible email marketing system helps to develop campaigns that are deliverable, mobile-friendly, and highly-measurable as a result of detailed campaign metrics reporting. Most importantly, these platforms will guarantee that your campaign is 100% compliant with Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). CASL compliance needs to be taken seriously – a single serious violation can put businesses at risk of penalties up to $10 million by the CRTC. These guideliness require that every electronic message businesses send to customers has: Explicit or implied consent from the recipient, the name of the business along with clear contact information, and a functioning unsubscribe mechanism. With the proper email marketing software & procedures in place at your dealership, compyling with CASL guideliness is extremely manageable, but incredibly important.

Once you feel your dealership is ready to begin developing an Online Communications Strategy, there are a variety of factors to consider.

If you have designed an impressive email campaign that is delivered at the right time of day, the subject line compels your customers to open the email and the content of your email motivates your customer to act on your offer; what channels of communication are you making available to your customers and are your staff equipped to handle customer inquiries from the different channels? Naturally, customers expect to have options when it comes to contacting businesses. Dealerships that are ready and willing to accommodate their customers’ preferences will be setting themselves up for success. Dealerships that are not prepared may be driving their frustrated customers away to competitors.

If your email campaign provides a phone number for customers to call and arrange a vehicle maintenance or Sales appointment, is their call being answered properly? Business Development Centers can sometimes struggle to balance incoming/outgoing calls due to staffing shortages. A surge of phone calls after an effective email campaign can be overwhelming for even the most organized department.

Requesting a direct email response from customers can generate immediate replies, but it can also cause an influx of vague appointment and information requests that flood your inbox. These vague emails typically lack required information, which results in exhausting and time-consuming back-and-forth emails to secure the necessary details for each appointment. The reality is, even the most tech-savvy person can have trouble sustaining a clean and organized inbox while trying to maintain an overwhelming number of email conversations at the same time.

Dedicating a web page on your dealership’s website for your marketing campaign is a step in the right direction to funneling customers and generating qualified leads, but even this strategy can fall apart if it is not managed and executed properly.

If you plan on utilizing a landing page for your next marketing campaign, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Is the landing page you’re directing your customers to compatible with mobile devices? Does the customer receiving your email on his or her smartphone end up where they should be when they click-through on your link – or do they land on a generic mobile-version of your website that lacks clarity and direction?
  • If the link is configured correctly, is your dealership’s web page and all of its contents sized properly to be legible and visible on a smartphone?
  • Once customers start filling out the contact form on the page, what information are you asking them to provide? Are you causing anxiety for your customers by asking them questions they aren’t able to answer from the comfort of their home? Requiring a VIN, license plate number, precise payment information or an exact odometer reading will cause your landing page Incompletion Rates to spike enormously.
  • Landing page tools now allow marketers to monitor their landing page’s Completion Rate, in addition to other valuable performance metrics. If you notice customers frequently leaving your landing page mid-completion, these metrics will allow you to pinpoint which element of the page is triggering customers to abandon the process, and allow you to adjust the page to eliminate the problem.
  • Can your page’s contact form be pre-filled? For example, a customer clicks the link from the email received to a form that automatically generates their Name, Customer ID, Email address, Year, Make, Model, and any other personal information relevant to the campaign. All that is required of your customer is to select a date and time that fits his or her schedule. The less work required of your customer, the better your Completion Rate will be.
  • Are you rewarding customers for utilizing your landing page and communicating with you in a way that helps your dealership run more efficiently? Offering an incentive can go a long way. Rewarding customers with a free jug of windshield washer fluid or a car wash can significantly alter their appointment scheduling behaviour.
  • What happens to these leads once the customer submits his or her request? There is nothing worse than submitting an online request and then feeling as though your message is lost in cyber-space. Customers should receive a simple confirmation email letting them know their message has been received.
  • Once the customer has submitted their form, a staff-member dedicated to supervising that specific landing page’s entries should instantly receive an email or text message notification that contains all of the necessary information to serve the customer quickly and effectively.

Reviewing the questions and factors mentioned in this article will enhance the performance of every future marketing campaign your dealership executes. Implementing effective landing pages will have a positive effect on your organization internally and externally. The stress levels of your staff will be reduced, phone line congestion will be alleviated and management of incoming customer inquiries will become much more efficient.  Ultimately, your customers will be able to customize the way they do business with you. This will improve business, retain customers and increase referrals as a result of your customers’ pleasant experience in communicating with your dealership.