For Customers, Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

When customers drive off the dealership lot with their new car, they usually aren't thinking about their next purchase, or planning to be back for service any time soon either.

Post-purchase interactions can feel like a long-distance relationship. Customers are likely, more now than ever, to put off visiting dealerships until they absolutely have to go. 35% of Americans have skipped or delayed recommended repair or maintenance on their vehicle. And they aren't always returning to the same one. Only 14% of customers buy their next vehicle from the same dealer.

So how are you supposed to keep your dealership on the minds of your customers?

The simple answer is to continue to talk to them.

The traditional method of contact is direct mail. And, believe it or not, it isn't as antiquated as the internet would have you think. Direct mail has a significant impact due to its ability to draw emotion from recipients. 57% of customers say they feel more valued when they receive direct mail.

With the breadth of data available today, customers also expect a personalized experience in advertising. They like to see their preferences, not a generalized postcard that advertises the wrong model or accessories.

A clean database can provide these important customizable details to include in direct mail. When you include a customer name and other database-specific information on a full-color direct mail piece, response rates jump up to—wait for it—500%. Whether in service or sales, that’s not a number you can ignore in your dealership.

With this method, you can send your customers a variety of communications to keep yourself relevant. For example:

  • Recalls
  • Holiday Campaigns
  • Recommended Not Done
  • Thank You for Sales/Service
  • Campaign Specials

What you may notice, however, is that these communications are primarily for customers currently in the market for sales and service.

The average vehicle is on the road for almost 12 years which means your best chance of an eventual repeat sale is securing their service business. Even if your customers perform scheduled maintenance, if they don’t have any other servicing needs, they are only coming into your dealership once every 3-6 months.

What keeps them from finding an independent service contractor in that time? 70% of customers switch to independent service drives after their warranty expires. Dealerships need to find a way to maintain a relationship long after the customer drives off the lot so the warranty isn't the only perceived value.

Utilizing a newsletter to keep in touch with your customers allows you to communicate with those outside of the vehicle market. Have you been told that newsletters don’t work? What if we told you that when asked to opt-in to receive updates from a business, 90% chose newsletters over Facebook?

With newsletters, you can broadcast many of the same messages of targeted marketing strategies: recalls, broad campaigns, specials, general news, and more. These can be as broad-reaching as you want, or you can focus in on specific regions to push certain dealership or OEM promotions.

The bottom line of direct mail and newsletter marketing is this: you can easily communicate with your customers in the various stages of the vehicle ownership life-cycle. Don’t lose the relationships that are the most important to you. Keep in touch.