Article

Courtesy Chevrolet Uses Internet Marketing to Sell an additional 85 units a month

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Sean Wolfington - Also by this author

One of the reasons Courtesy Chevrolet has a lot of success on the Internet is because they have become masters of e-mail marketing. Robert Revere of Courtesy Chevrolet and HouseofCourtesy.com conducts e-mail campaigns every month in order to help his dealership continue to be one of top two Chevrolet dealers in the country.

“We conduct different buzz mail campaigns every month to our database of customers. The best part is that it only takes me a couple of seconds because our CRM tool let’s us sort our list, pick from hundreds of pre-packaged multi-media email campaigns and then send them all in one batch. It’s easy and it works,” said Revere.

Here are some of Revere’s secrets for conducting successful e-mail marketing campaigns:

Secret #1: It is really cheap to use e-mail marketing.

Most dealers have learned that mass media is expensive, hard to measure and the returns are getting shorter and shorter. That’s why most dealers today dedicate more of their ad budget to direct marketing including direct mail and direct e-mail. But the most advanced dealers have learned that e-mail marketing is the future because it is free.
Secret #2: It is very easy to conduct a campaign.

First, you simply pick a list of prospects you want to target, define your message and then you send it off. The key to conducting these campaigns is to have a tool that helps you do the work so you don’t have to.
“We have hundreds of pre-packaged multi-media buzz mails ready for us to send so we do not have to waste a lot of time paying someone to create stuff for us,” Revere said .
 
Secret #3: E-mail campaigns work!

“I can send out thousands of e-mails within seconds and at the end of a long weekend I can sell another 10 to 15 cars. And that’s the bottom line,” Revere said.

Secret #4: E-mail marketing is very measurable.

What is unique about e-mail marketing is that you can measure everything: how many e-mails were sent, viewed, how many converted into a lead, test drive, finance application etc… The best part of this e-mail marketing traffic control is the counted are not doing the counting. “All of the measurement is automated and I don’t have to do anything,” Revere said.

Secret #5: E-mail marketing is more interactive than any other medium.

“When I send direct mail out, I am hoping the customer will take action by visiting our store the following weekend. Whereas with e-mail marketing, my customers can click immediately to build their new vehicle, compare cars, view inventory, see specials, apply for financing, buy parts, schedule a service appointment and more. The difference between mail and e-mail is that after they read my e-mail they can spend another 60 minutes interacting with the e-mail and our Web site. By the time they call or come in they are further down the purchase process,” Revere said.

Secret #6: The process is still the most important.

If you generate a lot of leads and additional opportunities but do not have the right people and process, you will not get the right results. The most important part comes when you turn your e-mail and phone responses into appointments and sales. Once they come into the dealership the closing percentage is higher than 50 percent.
 
Secret # 7: You need to stand out in the crowd.

How do you stand out in the crowd of text e-mails that fill consumers’ inboxes? Well, many dealers are using nice graphical headers that get the customers attention with a benefit statement that sucks them in. Some of the more advanced dealers are using multi-media e-mails that show the customer a miniature commercial in an e-mail. “We use multi-media buzz mails, and our customers tell us all the time they are blown away by them.”

Secret #8: Your e-mails need to work properly on all online clients.

When you send a letter you know it will fit into a mailbox. However, with e-mail, there are many different types of e-mail clients ranging from AOL, to Hotmail, to Outlook, etc., and most of them work differently. First, you need to make sure your e-mails integrate into these popular systems. Second, you want your e-mail marketing system to be able to detect different security settings so it can deliver the right e-mail for the particular setting. Third, if you use multi-media e-mails you need to make sure that the e-mails are compressed so they work on a low-speed connection. This is hard to do, but it’s worth it since most people do not want to wait.

Secret # 9: You need to gather a lot of e-mails.

It is not good enough to simply get someone’s e-mail address; you also want to get their permission to contact them. That is why a lot of dealerships like to offer the customer a benefit for giving their e-mail addresses rather than simply asking them for it.
“Our digital marketing vendor has a service that crawls the Web for e-mail addresses in our customer base and then the service notifies the customer to ask them if they want to opt to receive product and promotional updates from our dealership. It is amazing because you can get more than 25 percent of your customer base to provide e-mail addresses,” Revere said. “This helps us with our customers but we also want to capture e-mail addresses of our prospects. So we ask every phone and showroom prospect if they want us to e-mail them a free virtual test drive of the vehicle they’re considering and most customers say yes. Then we follow up by asking them if they also want to get updates on new products and promotions. In the end, we have a lot of e-mails and they are from customers who asked us to contact them.” Dealerships also offer customers free personal Web sites, service reminders, recall notices and more as an incentive to gather their e-mail addresses.

Secret #10: Obey the law and respect your customers

This secret is simple: do not spam your customers. Follow all of the rules and regulations for e-mail marketing including allowing customers to opt out of your campaigns. Don’t e-mail them after they opt out. The best thing that ever happened to e-mail marketing is the new spam law. This law will shorten a lot of the “dirty spam” that sends unsolicited e-mails to customers they never wanted. This means there will be less e-mail our customers have to weed through, and this will increase the quality of legitimate permission-based campaigns that are legal.

Additionally, the problem with e-mail marketing is it’s so easy and so cheap that a lot of people go a little crazy with it after they have their first success. This is a mistake. If you over do it by e-mailing your customers multiple times a month, eventually they will not open your e-mails, and it is likely many of them will opt out. That’s why it is important to have a pre-defined e-mail marketing strategy that’s spaced out. It’s best for one person to regulate the e-mails sent to your customer base to ensure your campaigns are balanced.

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