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Sales of sport utility vehicles were particularly strong this year, according to joint research by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Total light-vehicle sales are expected to finish out 2017 at 17.2 million units, a decrease of 1.9% from 2016, according to joint research by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, with retail light-vehicle expected to finish the year just below 14 million units – down 1.1% from 2016.

Having personally invested 5 months into working in car dealerships during 2017, on the front lines managing digital marketing campaigns and supervising BDC operations… I can attest to the simple reality that trucks and SUV’s were where we were able to generate excitement and consumer response in 2017. At Tier 3, we feel the mood of the car buying population far sooner than reflected in sales numbers. 

The continuing shift of sales percentages into more trucks and SUV’s and less conventional passenger cars is reflected in the responsiveness that automotive consumers have to sales promotions and campaigns on each model type.

Looking forward to 2018, both firms expect total light-vehicle sales forecast to top out under 17 million units, a decline of 1.2% from 2017, while the forecast for retail light-vehicles is 13.8 million units for 2018, a decline of 1.4% from this year.

The big surprise for 2017 turned out to be the strength of sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales, according to Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president of forecasting.

“SUV demand has been robust and is expected to finish up 5% in 2017 from 2016 and a market share of 43% of total light-vehicle sales,” he said in a statement. “The SUV reign will continue for the foreseeable future [as] SUVs are expected to  account for 50% of new model activity in 2018, which will help push the share of total sales to 45% and continue the segment’s volume growth, even as the total market is projected to contract further in 2018.”

He added that light truck models overall accounted for 68% of new-vehicle retail sales through Dec. 17 – the highest level ever for the month of December, making it the 18th consecutive month above 60%.

 

As part of its Q4 2012 Email Marketing Quarterly Benchmark Study [download page], Experian Marketing Services has analyzed the best time of the day to send emails.
Experian cautions automotive marketers by pointing out that the data is retrospective rather than controlled.  The study included all industry segments, (US based) with automotive being just one of the multiple segments analyzed (Multi-Channel Retailers).  It is wise to note that logic would dictate that optimal deployment timing will vary by industry, and in the case of automotive, perhaps even by brand. But, despite the naysayers that often want to shove their heads in the sand and ignore all objective data that doesn’t come from themselves, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the Experian study’s results.
Not surprisingly, at least to me and anyone else who has ever used email marketing at a dealership for any length of time, the Experian study shows somewhat of an inverse relationship between email volume and performance.  Plainly stated, the more email a prospective customer receives during any given time segment, the less likely that your dealership’s email will get opened and read… (less results).

For example, looking at time of day, the study finds that a plurality 40% of emails were deployed between 8AM and 11:59AM, with that range accounting for 42% of transactions. But, the 16.1% unique open rate and 2.4% unique click rate of this time period counted as the lowest of the 6 distinct time periods.

To some extent, that could simply be a function of volume, meaning that it could be harder for email marketers to differentiate themselves in the morning, when consumers are receiving the highest volume of inbound emails.

Interestingly, the transaction rate (.13%) in that morning period also was the lowest of any time range, revenue per email ($0.17) was among the lowest, and average order value was middle of the pack, at $174.

When looking at the time of day that got the smallest share of volume and transactions (2% each) – between 8PM and 11:59PM – the picture changes considerably. During this time period, unique open rate (21.7%), unique click rate (4.2%), transaction rate (0.34%), revenue per email ($0.48), and average order value ($246) for eCommerce businesses submitting data were all considerably higher than during any other time of day. Experian doesn’t offer any suggestions as to why this might be the case, but it could be related to consumers simply being more engaged at that time of the day and more apt to submit an inquiry (lead) or spend money.

 

The Experian report also analyzes performance by day of the week, finding again that the days with the lowest volume of emails (Saturday and Sunday) boasted the best response rates (each with a unique open rate of 17.8% and a unique click rate of 2.9%). Saturday (9% of email volume) also sported the best lead submission (CPA) and transaction rate (0.16%) and revenue per email ($0.20), although average order values lagged for the eCommerce businesses submitting their data.

Regardless of the specifics by industry, region or brand, what the Experian study clearly shows is that when it comes to car dealers using email marketing, timing does effect an email campaign’s performance. The actionable item for car dealers reviewing this information is to start comparing results from your email marketing campaigns using the metrics that Experian has identified, such as open rates, click through rates and engagement rates (inquiries/leads submitted). Identify the best time segments and days of the week for your dealership, your brand and your location to get the optimum results…

Just remember what Digital Ralph has said hundreds of times; “Random is the Opposite of Optimized”.  Don’t let random selection be the means by which you time the deployment of your email campaigns, know the nest days and times to deploy campaigns by their offer type and targeted audience, then put planning in place to ensure that your dealership’s email campaigns are deployed during those optimal day and time segments.

Data Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/most-emails-deployed-in-morning-best-results-se…

Data Source 2: Experian.com/email-marketing-quarterly-benchmark-study-q4-2012

ADM Professional Community members can download the Experian Research report in PDF document format using the following link: 

Email-Marketing-Benchmark-Metrics-Study-Q4-2012.pdf