At the risk of “engaging” in the use of a buzzword that is overused and abused (according to JD Rucker) let’s take a look at some insights I have discovered regarding the use of email to prompt Customer Engagement that can drive Competitive Advantage for your Car Dealership…
According to Forrester Research, we are now in the “Age of the Customer.”
Today, advances in technology allow every dealership to tap into their OEM data and information treasuries, and even the cheapest, most IT stringy car dealers can access all the computing resources they need from a variety of cloud based dealership supplier products and Software As A service (SAAS) suppliers. The ability to tap into cloud based technologies is no longer considered an advantage; rather, it’s a way of life. Think about how almost every American car buyer at some point uses Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or any number of User Generated Content (UGC) sites and networks… All cloud based SAAS, despite what anyone wants to say about it. Today, being the customer’s first choice is the only remaining source of competitive advantage, hence the fascination we saw the auto industry have with Google’s “Zero Moment of Truth” concept a couple of years ago… However, the competition is fierce. To win, car dealers must be obsessed with their customers, focused on understanding them and engaging (JD’s favorite word) with them better than anyone else.
What am I talking about when I say “engaging email”?
The New Digital Car Buyer
Three major trends have emerged out of the recent (and far too rapid for many car dealers), evolution of car buyer behaviors across email, social, search, and the Web.
1. Buyers are more empowered:
Thanks to information abundance combined with better search and sharing technology, product information is now ubiquitous. The Web provides automotive consumers with instant information gratification. And mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience. Consumers can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs on their smartphones. Meanwhile, social media encourages consumers to share and compare. Today’s buyers are increasingly self-directed when it comes to making purchasing decisions. They have broad access to resources and proactively gather information across a number of digital channels, often developing brand perceptions before they ever interact directly with a brand. By the time a buyer comes to you, he’s probably already made his purchasing decision, so it’s time to throw out the old model of a persuasive shop girl greeting your customer at the door. Meet today’s buyer. She has the upper hand when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Tech savvy and brand sophisticated, she is wise to the ways of marketing, and she expects a lot. She believes you should inform and even entertain her, but never bore or, worse, irritate her. And she’s fickle — if you don’t keep communications interesting, she’ll opt out faster than a credit mooch when you go to pull a credit bureau… And as for you sales guys, the idea of schmoozing a customer sounds great, and it may even happen occasionally, but you know it’s not feasible for you to spend an inordinate amount of time schmoozing everyone. With today’s modern CRM apps, and the ones just around the corner, if you are in car sales, then the reality is that you manage a portfolio of hundreds or even thousands of customers! (orphan owner reassignments)
“Building on the vast increase in consumer power brought on by the digital age, marketing is headed toward being on-demand — not just always ‘on,’ but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.”– Mckinsey, “The Coming Era of ‘On-Demand’ Marketing”
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain
- Of Americans age 12 and over who are active online, 94% cite email as one of their regular activities. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project’s Generations 2010 report)
- Jay Baer, Social Media Speaker, Author and Coach, says that 58% percent of adult Americans check email first thing in the morning. (Source:MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Summit)
Email is very much alive. Plus, it’s still the number one way for marketers to communicate directly with customers. According to new research:
- Email is the customer preference. In a recent survey, a staggering 77% of consumers reported that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email – and email was the number one source for all age groups including 15-24! (Source: Waldow Social)
- Email generates nearly a 200% return on marketing investment compared to other channels. For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2013, there was a $40.56 return. Compare that to other channels, such as search engine marketing, which is the next closest at $22.44. (Source: Direct Marketing Association and Smart Data Collective)
Email investment is slated to increase. 64% of companies indicated their organizations’ investment in email marketing was expected to increase in 2014. (Source: MarketingSherpa 2013 Benchmark)
“Where do you tell people to send important calendar items, documents, or discussions about important topics, either for work or home? Our guess is that ‘Facebook’ wasn’t your answer. It was probably email.”– Jason Falls, Digital Strategist and Co-author of “The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing”
- The Economics of Attention: Information abundance and attention scarcity make it harder than ever to get buyer attention
- Opt-Out, Screen Out, Tune Out: Consumers don’t want to feel they are being marketed to, and will find ways to tune out unwanted communications
- The Cross-Channel Marketing Revolution: New communication channels mean email can no longer be a standalone channel
- Imprecise Metrics: Imprecise metrics that don’t show true impact means that email struggles to be strategic Email still matters – perhaps more than ever – but traditional paradigms no longer cut it. It’s time for a reality check regarding the new challenges that email marketers face as digital consumers get more sophisticated.
“Automotive Marketing Professionals waste too much time trying to connect the dots using the basic email reports and metrics provided by their dealership ESP’s to the strategic metrics that dealer principals and general managers actually care about, such as leads and sales generated, and gross profit impact.”–Ralph Paglia, Founder, Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community
“Remember that the best campaigns aren’t about you or what you want subscribers to do. They’re about your subscribers and what they want.”– Matt Blumberg, Chairman and CEO of Return Path
- Controversial, excuse me… CONVERSATIONAL and Not Campaign-Based
- Coordinated Across Channels