Article

Can I Be Direct?

Crafting a winning direct mail marketing campaign in the Digital Age requires a clear, concise message that drives car buyers to your website.

August 2015, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Jeff Dodson

While many of today’s marketers are inclined to throw direct mail marketing out the window, the data still supports direct mail as one of the most successful ways to engage customers and drive sales. In a 2012 study by Epsilon, 73% of consumers said they prefer direct mail for brand communication because they can read the information at their convenience. And according to Central Mailing Services’ Direct Mail Statistics 2013, 46% of new-car buyers responded to direct mail and receiving direct mail made recipients who already owned a vehicle 78% more likely to replace it.

How direct mail marketing is crafted and sent, however, has a huge impact on the overall success of the campaign. As you outline your direct mail marketing campaigns for the second half of the year, consider the following tactics to boost your ROI:

1. Use the 40/40/20 Rule.

Most direct mail experts will tell you that the ultimate impact of your campaign is 40% dependent on your mailing list, 40% on your offer and 20% on the creative. For this reason, it’s important to build and cultivate a highly qualified list of leads. This should include previous and current customers as well as new leads.

Collecting data on previous and existing customers is as simple as implementing a CRM system to track and manage it. Remember, direct mailings to previous customers elicit a higher response rate than those to new customers.

To build a list of fresh leads, use email signups or interest contact capture forms on your website. If you prefer to buy a list, be sure your provider has access to qualified, segmentable lists — and don’t be afraid to talk about who exactly is on those lists. You want to be sure the targeting is dialed in.

Equally important is the actual offer you’re making. According to Central Mailing Services’ report, 77% of consumers like to be informed about special offers in the mail and 70% appreciate direct mail which rewards their loyalty. The lesson here is to make sure every offer provides real value to its audience.

2. Stay on Target.

Good lists come equipped with more than just names and emails; they also contain key demographic information. If you have the ability to target by income bracket, for example, include information about cars that fit your target audience’s price range.

Segmenting lists and crafting custom messaging by age can also help you connect more closely with audiences. You wouldn’t adopt an informal tone with an older customer in person, so why do it in a mailing?

3. Keep It Simple.

When you’re crafting your creative, focus on developing a simple, basic offer, outlining a single USP and using minimal yet high-impact copy and images to convey the crux of your message. By keeping it simple, you can tightly hone in on your message — and allow audiences to do the same.

Pay special attention to the most critical creative elements of each piece. Don’t make readers wade through a maze of copy and graphics to find the unique selling point and call to action. Bring them to the forefront and make them irresistible with clean design and pithy copy.

4. Integrate Direct Mail With Your Website.

Believe it or not, direct mail can be a great way to drive targeted website traffic. If you have beautiful landing pages and contact capture forms ready and waiting, you can drive direct mail readers to these pages. This is a perfect way to capture more buyers who are just beginning to enter the sales cycle but aren’t yet ready to make a purchase.

To integrate direct mail, simply include a basic URL in the call to action. If the tracking is set up properly, you can also use this URL to track the performance of the campaign and the subsequent traffic it drives to your website. Simply plug your desired landing page URL into Google’s URL builder, creating the custom tracked URL, then, from the website’s backend, create a simple URL which 301-redirects to that tracking URL.

With proper planning and execution, your direct mail campaign can continue to pay dividends in the Digital Age. Your customers demand it and the numbers prove it.

Jeff Dodson is the founder and CEO of Dodson Auto Group, a family-run business offering a range of services to auto dealers. [email protected]

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