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5 tweaks to your dealership marketing that mean business

February 3, 2011
By Kevin Root
With the new year well underway, have you thought of any dealership resolutions you could make to really make a difference this year? If you're looking for differences that will increase profitability, consider these best practices.
1. Generate service department reviews
Eighty-nine percent of consumers say they would consider using online reviews when deciding 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 too?
2. Post Web site content for the service department
Why is it that service departments generate 80 percent of the dealership profits, but most dealership Web sites contain 80 percent sales department content? Consider these ideas for quality service-related content:
• Include content with information about why customers should bring their car to you for service instead of the light-repair guy down the street. Your factory-trained technicians and competitive pricing are two reasons.
• Video works especially well for this. Show viewers some of the specialized equipment you have and make a point about your genuine OEM parts. Video increases engagement by 2.7 minutes per visitor.
3. Collect every customer e-mail address
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately the average dealership has less than 10 percent accurate e-mail addresses from its total customer base. That is crazy when you think that the average direct mail service reminder costs 55 cents compared to an e-mail reminder, which costs a fraction of that-usually 4 cents to 14 cents when development and service costs are factored in.
It's even crazier when you realize that e-mail reminders are infinitely more flexible, trackable, and even better for the environment, which studies show is an increasingly important consideration to consumers. Tip: Use this angle when asking a customer for his e-mail address. It works!
4. Use short, high impact subject lines
Smart dealerships know the value of e-mail marketing, and smarter dealerships know the value of the subject line, which can 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 e-mail'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 e-mails with 49 or fewer characters.
5. Deploy pull vs. push service marketing
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. Customers know they're getting something they asked for that is relevant to them.
Kevin Root is the senior vice president of product strategy for DriverSide.