Omnichannel Approach: Maximizing Your Reach in the Digital Age

When it comes to advertising, what is the absolute best approach? In the digital age we live in today, are traditional forms of advertising still effective or has digital made them obsolete? The short answer is no, but there is a bigger picture to consider, especially for automotive retail dealerships.

Traditional forms of advertisement have a place in marketing strategies of automotive dealerships and, in some cases, can be even more powerful than digital options. With all the alternatives available how can you ensure the best possible plan?

The answer is an omnichannel approach to your strategy. My definition of omnichannel is all about sending the same message, i.e. look, feel, call to action, etc., to the same audience on multiple channels. Consumers in today’s landscape are everywhere and you should be too.

Why is omnichannel the answer? I think we can all agree that there is no one-size-fits-all to marketing, especially in the automotive retail side of the industry. Dealers have restrictions based on market, O.E.M, brand, budget, etc. Combining efforts to ensure the most amount of frequency in messaging is the best way to connect with buyers in a profound way that ultimately will lead to a specific call to action.

It seems that every day there is a new answer, a new way to convert potential buyers, a new solution that will magically help dealerships connect with owners and sell more cars. I personally think that what is said, your “WHY” is far more important, therefore, finding the most effective way to deliver that message needs to be integral in the success to your strategy. The goal for any advertising campaign should be to get the most amount of frequency at the least amount of cost, and an omnichannel approach is proving to be a very effective way to achieve this.

Check out this Omnichannel Strategy designed to help your service department connect with defectors.

Step 1: Identify the Customers.
Pull a list from your DMS of all the customers with no service activity in 8 to 10 months. Note: Make sure that you have an address, email, and contact number.

Step 2: Identify Which Channels Make the Most Sense in Your Market.
All markets are different and only a giving dealership can truly know what channels are converting the best. For the stores I work with, a combination of the following seems to work the best. Don’t just take my word for it. Do some research to make sure you are not wasting your budget.
1.     Social Media (Facebook / Instagram)
2.     Email
3.     Direct Mail
4.     Phone Calls

Step 3: The Channels Role.
For this strategy to work the best, you must understand each channel and the specific goal for each.

1.     Social media will get you in front of the audience your targeting. This can be achieved via matching efforts; you can match your message to the actual customers in your DMS.

Note: Matching requires a contact number and/or email address in order to validate the accounts on Facebook/Instagram. Matching on social media is not 100%, but it will yield a much higher return than posting will. In some cases, I have seen results as high as 60 to 70% matching rate versus up to 15% when posting.

For better conversion and trackability, I highly suggest creating a landing page with content built out that aligns with the offer. The social media efforts are just a window to draw the customers in. Once they click in, you want to connect with content that is engaging and incites them to act.

2.     Email will allow you to add an extra touch point at no additional cost. The one thing to ensure is that the look and feel of the message and the audience are identical. For example, avoid using emails that look cheap and are not up to par with the social media and direct mail efforts. For the best results, the look and feel must be seamless between all platforms.

3.     Direct mail (DM) still has its advantages. I have personally seen significant return on investment with this channel or communication. One thing to understand about DM is that the spray & pray days are over. It no longer makes senses to spend tens of thousands of dollars on direct mail campaigns. With the digital age, there is a digital component which is audience selection. When you can get the right message in front of the right audience, you will see a measurable ROI.

4.     I cannot think of a more personal way other than in-person interaction than to use phone calls to communicate a message to your customers. A phone call allows you to have a dialog with the brand-owner, which can help you understand why they have defected in the first place and can get you the opportunity to get them back in the drive.

Step 4: Cadence in Communication.

For this strategy to work the best, the cadence of each effort is very important. Here is my recommended timeline for each:

1.     Start with social media first. This will allow you the most frequency at the least amount of spend as this is initially what you want. On social media channels, the brand-owners will be targeted via their feed. This will be served up multiple times in a given period. Based on my experience, I would let this run for two weeks before engaging the additional touch points. Remember that people are spending around thirty-five minutes a day on Facebook alone. Reference this article for more details https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic. By allowing time for them to see the message multiple times, the follow-up will be that much more relevant.

2.     The first follow-up I recommend is via email. For those names on your list with a valid email address, send a follow-up message with the same offers, look and feel, and call-to-action. Route them from the email to an information page that gives them more explanation on the offers and benefits as well as why they should choose you over the rest. Keep in mind that even if your email performance is outstanding, on average, your open rates will hover around 30 percent. Therefore, this channel alone is not enough to reinforce the message.

3.     You should have your mailer ready to hit the brand-owners’ mailbox one week after sending the first follow-up email. Remember to create the mailer with the same message and look/feel. This is important to set up in advance especially if your partner for DM is one that works several weeks behind.

4.     One week after your mailer is delivered in-home, the final touch should be the personal one! Think about how effective it will be for your BDC to set-up phone calls and connect with the same customers who have seen your message with the same look/feel and are now getting a phone call that reiterates the message, inviting them to set up an appointment. The key here is to not deviate from the message and to include them in the contact. For example, “Mrs. Johnson, I am calling from ABC Dealer to make sure you received our communication attempts regarding this special offer of. Let’s go ahead and schedule your appointment.”

This strategy will work with any segment. The key is to set up the personal touch before you make it by reaching the customer with the message where they are. Do it frequently enough that they have no choice but to acknowledge it.

Step 5: The Message.

Like I mentioned earlier, the most important part is what is being said. What we ultimately want is to get customers back to the drive.

The way I set up the message is in the following: ·       

Mass appeal offer: oil change, tires, OEM scheduled maintenance, etc.

Hook: Give them a reason to get off the couch! I prefer now and later offers. This will allow you to gain the revenue now and offer the reward for the second visit.

Example: “Get an oil change today and your next one free!” (or 50% off)

I know what you’re thinking, but there is a method to my madness. These are defecting customers, so we are going to lose them anyway. Give them a reason to get off the couch and come in. If they do, you will get the revenue now and you will only have to offer the discounted price during their second visit. You have set yourself up to see this customer two times. If they don’t come back for their second visit, you have already won!

Note: The offer does not have to be for an oil change only, it can also be convenience-based. An example of this would be “Get your vehicle serviced in 60 minutes or less or your next one is free!” or “Get a service of $200 or more and your next oil change is on us.” The objective is to get them in now and offer a heavy discount for their next visit.

Also, with an offer this aggressive, you should speak with your advisers to let them know that any customers that have these offers are defecting and to offer “white glove treatment.” This would be done to ensure we can win them back with outstanding service.

Once we have a mass appeal offer as well as a hook, then the most important of the entire piece is the “why.” Tell the customers why they should choose you over the rest. This is becoming more and more important than ever. Customers really don’t care about saving $5 here or $10 there if it means they must sacrifice their time. You have a unique story to tell so make sure that you do!

My final thought is that when it comes to communicating our message, we truly need to embrace both traditional and digital as they are complementing each other very well, but if we don’t bridge the gap between efforts, then we are leaving our customers confused and uninterested in taking action. You have one purpose, one story to tell it, and in order to do that effectively, you must ensure that your message is coming across in the same way every time. In this article I mentioned just one strategy that I have used where I combine traditional and digital efforts. The reality is that all too often I see dealers who have a jumbled-up mess between the 50+ providers, or “vendors,” they have, and none are communicating with the other to ensure a consistent message. This will cost you in the long term every time.

If I can help your current efforts in any way, please feel free to contact me.

As always, I am here to help!

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