Capitalize on Direct Mail’s Popularity for your Dealership Marketing Post-COVID

We get it. You might be sick of reading about the impact of the pandemic on the automotive retail industry. Or anything COVID-related, really. COVID brought a lot of disruption and unique challenges to the industry, some of which dealers may be navigating for years to come.

But, the smart dealer always looks for the seeds of opportunity in any adversity, and the pandemic is no different. While the shutdowns wreaked short-term havoc on vehicle sales, they may have had a surprisingly positive long-term impact on a critical marketing channel: direct mail.

A Newfound Appreciation for Direct Mail

Even before the pandemic, direct mail had proven itself a high-converting marketing channel with impressive staying power. Consider that 59 percent of respondents say they enjoy getting mail from brands about new products, 60 percent of catalog recipients visit the website of the company that mailed them the catalog, and a whopping 90 percent of direct mail gets opened – compared to only 20-30 percent of emails.

Again, this is a high-converting medium: Direct mail household response rate is 5.1 percent, compared to 0.6 percent for email, 0.6 percent for paid search, 0.2 percent for online display, and 0.4 percent for social media.

And yet, there are signs that in the wake of the pandemic, direct mail’s importance is being kicked into an even higher gear.

For example:

  • 30 percent of consumers are spending more time reading marketing or promotions that arrive in their home mailbox compared to pre-pandemic.
  • 37 percent of consumers are more excited to receive their mail each day.
  • 46 percent of consumers are more interested in receiving deals, coupons, and promotions.
  • 80 percent of consumers appreciate the way some brands have changed their advertising tone due to the pandemic.

These trends seem likely to be directly attributable to the COVID shutdowns. As people were stuck indoors and in front of screens with little to no social contact for weeks on end, physical mail took on an enhanced novelty and importance as a tangible link to the outside world and other people, as well as a reminder of more normal times.

Mail is back “en vogue” in 2021, with direct mail enjoying an accompanying surge in popularity and efficacy as a result.

So, if there’s an opportunity to capture greater ROI than ever before with this marketing channel, the question then becomes: What does your direct mail strategy look like?

Doing Direct Mail Right

No matter how well direct mail performs for other businesses, the simple fact remains that you still have to implement a winning strategy to make it work for you.

People might be more receptive to mail offers than ever before, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be turned off by poor execution.

With that in mind, here are some essential best practices to help shape your approach. It’s also worth considering enlisting the help of a professional vendor partner with the expertise to handle these campaigns for you, freeing you up to focus on the business of selling cars.

  • Craft your message carefully. Analyze previous marketing results, consumer behavior, market trends, and transactional data to know your target audience inside and out.
  • Clean up your data. Mail that doesn’t reach its intended recipient is wasted money. Review your customer database to eliminate invalid or duplicate addresses.
  • Customize your content and inspire customers to act. You want your design to be unique and clearly branded to your specific dealership (while still remaining OEM compliant) and, most importantly, to prompt customers to take an action that gets them through the door or on your website.

The key to success often lies in recognizing opportunities for new growth hidden within times of adversity. In the wake of the pandemic, direct mail is experiencing just such an opportunity. Will you capitalize on the trend and reap the benefits of this high-performing marketing channel?