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There are a lot of ways to get an eNewsletter program going for less money than you might think. Some of the considerations you should weigh are:

1. How many email addresses do you have in your database? (critical mass for ROI)
2. Is white-listing important to you? (over 40% of dealer emails sent to addresses submitted using lead forms are blocked)
3. Do you have the resources for writing and publishing localized content and relevant, interesting articles? (content)
4. Will your eNewsletter have "opt-out" automation that integrates with your lead management tool? (CAN-SPAM compliancy)
5. Do you want your customers to have single-click access to various requests (leads) without completing a form? (KBA)
6. Does it have any value to you if each month's eNewsletter is a microsite with a permanent URL and links to your main site? (SEO)

I have done eNewsletters myself... And, have used IMN LoyaltyDriver and have used Outsell as well. When I look back on the time and energy both myself and all those around me that I cajoled into giving me poorly written, grammatically incorrect and inane subject matter content for my home-grown eNewsletter and compare that with the programs I used from IMN and then Outsell, there is no comparison, using a professional eNewsletter is more cost and ROI effective than the homegrown variety.

However, let me qualify my personal experience with a professional opinion... Using either Outsell or IMN does not make financial sense with less than 10,000 valid, high quality email subscribers. Below that 10,000 email address threshold, dealers may be better off with a homegrown program, combined with a professional email distribution company such as ConstantContact to deliver these homegrown eNewsletters.

However, if you happen to be a Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo or Mazda dealer, there is a Ford sponsored program that provides a Ford Motor Company proprietary version of the Outsell eNewsletter service. The Ford and Lincoln Mercury Digital Advertising Program for Dealers has an OEM negotiated deal that includes a professionally designed monthly eNewsletter that incorporates Ford Motor Company supplied articles, creative content, integration with SalesPoint and DealerConnection, along with fully staffed live chat services for as low as $295 a month for up to 20,000 email address. Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers can check out an online presentation that goes through the details at www.FordDealerEnewsletter.com .

Shown below are a couple of examples of the Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer eNewsletters, with the images linked to the online presentation about the FLMDA eNewsletter program:



In the interest of fairness and because I am a fan of both IMN Loyalty Driver eNewsletters and the Outsell supplied eNewsletter solutions, here is a screen capture of an IMN eNewsletter that we distributed to about 40,000 subscribers each month for over a year while I was working at Courtesy Chevrolet. Right below, there is another example of an IMN Loyalty Driver eNewsletter that I received from Peoria Nissan. Both eNewsletter images are linked to the IMN Loyalty Driver web site:



eNewsletters... What's your opinion? What is the best way to have an effective eNewsletter program that establishes a consistent monthly publication cycle and delivers content that customers actually look forward to receiving in their email inbox?

Tags: Enewsletters, IMN Loyalt Driver, In-House, Outsell, Outsource, dealer newsletter, email marketing, relationship marketing

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Ralph,

The eNewsletter image you are showing is that of a Loyalty Driver eNewsletter provided by IMN. Five Star Ford is the #1 Ford eCommerce Dealer in the country and after looking at the ADP eNewsletter offer they chose to stay with Loyalty Driver- we are proud to have them as a customer. I don't believe they would appreciate the misleading nature of how you have linked their eNewsletter back to your eNewsletter offer. Please remove the image immediately.

BTW- we have many customers with fewer than 10,000 e-mails who get fantastic ROI with their eNewsletters.

Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.

Brian
Sorry about that Brian... My mistake and I apologize for showcasing your product. I still like IMN Loyalty Driver eNewsletter programs, and as stated above, do believe that whether a dealer goes with Outsell or IMN, it is a more effective approach than doing it in-house. My opinion about dealers with a small number of emails in their database is based on achieving the distribution that fuels the ROI model. However, with that said, it does not take many service appointments, test drives and request for quotes to justify the monthly investment required for a well executed eNewsletter program from either Outsell or IMN.
Brian,

I took down the Five Star screen capture as you requested, but felt compelled to show examples of dealer eNewsletters from both Outsell and IMN, with the IMN screen captures linked to your company's web site. After all, despite your negative attitude towards me and my work with Outsell, I still respect your company, the products they supply and the fact that you and your team resolved a very serious data security issue for me with prompt action, full disclosure and a commendable approach to business ethics.
Ralph,

No negative attitude towards you. However, I can't have our eNewsletters being used as representative examples of what is provided by ADP/Outsell. We work too hard to put out a superior product to allow an implication to be made that anything near its quality or effectiveness can be achieved elsewhere.

It's like you said about us back when you were our customer at Courtesy Chevrolet: "There are very few marketing strategies that we have deployed at Courtesy Chevrolet that have yielded the high ROI we receive from our IMN Loyalty Driver newsletter, without a doubt it has provided the lowest cost per lead, and subsequently the lowest cost PVR from amongst all our marketing activities."

Thanks,

Brian
Mr. Brian Epro,

You are correct about Courtesy's experience with monthly eNewsletters... The eNewsletter program we deployed at Courtesy Chevrolet in early 2006 and which continues to this day, yielded the highest ROI per dollar of any outbound marketing activity we deployed. Overall, the only other digital marketing tactic that came close on a profit generated per dollar invested was Kelley Blue Book's LeadDriver when we combined it with an online advertising campaign targeted at current Chevrolet vehicle owners, which we called our "Buy Back" campaign. When you combine a high conversion rate digital advertising campaign to generate a high volume of inquiries that include email addresses and permission to follow-up with ANY well designed outbound email marketing campaign, such as an eNewsletter distributed using a white listed supplier, the ROI is overwhelmingly positive, varying only by degree and quantity.

I would like to take advantage of your participation to generate some dialogue and information that will benefit any ADM members, or the thousands of non-member visitors to ADM, that may be considering an Interactive Outbound Email based monthly publication, such as an eNewsletter. So, here's my challenge to you, Brian Epro, I know that IMN has a great product and I know that Outsell has a great product... You assert that IMN is better. I maintain that when measured objectively using a fact based analysis, that Outsell has a superior product. I will list below several features that Outsell provides within the FLMDA program as negotiated by Ford Motor Company and Outsell that are amongst the reasons I recommend the FLMDA eNewsletter program. You can then post an equivalent comment stating the features and functionality that you believe give IMN a superior review and rating... OK? So, here's my opening list of features that I believe make the FLMDA eNewsletter solution a better choice for Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers, and maybe even any dealer of any brand:

1. The FLMDA eNewsletter program supplied by Outsell offers dealers performance based pricing... Almost like a salesperson who gets paid commission and if he/she doesn't sell anything, the dealer only pays minimum wage. If consumers don't respond to the dealer's FLMDA eNewsletter, the dealer will not be invoiced more than $295 a month. This greatly reduces any cost/benefit risk for the dealer and virtually ensures a positive ROI.

2. The performance based pricing offered in the FLMDA eNewsletter program is based on Ford Motor Company defined Key Buying Activities (KBA) rather than a measurement determined by the supplier. The KBA's that Ford defined and verifies on behalf of the dealer are based on Ford's exhaustive Interactive Marketing Monetization study that established a fact based list of online consumer activities which are actual precursors to that same customer showing up at a dealership and buying a Ford or Lincoln Mercury vehicle.

3. The performance based pricing within the FLMDA eNewsletter program has a "cap" or maximum monthly charge of $695 regardless of how many KBA's the dealer's eNewsletter generates... If a dealer gets $3,000 worth of clicks that result in customer buying activities, the invoice is still only $695.

4. The FLMDA eNewsletter program provides dealers with the collective bargaining power of Ford Motor Company. If there is ever a problem with any aspect of service or product, a Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealer can call or email their Ford Zone Manager, or the Ford Digital Integration team in Dearborn, knowing that the factory is going to apply far more influence and pressure on the supplier than any individual dealer could ever generate on their own. Sort of like having a couple of 150 pound Rottweillers lounging around your home's doorway... No burglar on the planet is gonna break in, and ANY supplier is going to jump through whatever hoops are necessary to avoid risking a 1,000+ dealership account rlationship with the OEM.

5. The FLMDA eNewsletter program requires no long term commitment... The contract locks the pricing in for 12 months, and the dealer has the right to cancell at any time with a 30 day advance notice. This is valuable at any time, but certainly more so during a recession.

6. The FLMDA eNewsletter program utilizes articles, images, videos, current factory incentives and is proactively coordinated with the national marketing and promotional campaigns in progress via other marketing channels and funded by Ford. Although dealers are certainly welcome to use the content management system to insert their own articles, they also have permission from Ford to revise and edit the factory supplied content if they want to localize it. Additionally, the supplier provides localized content relevant to each dealer's local marketing area. The power of integrating factory supplied creative assets within an individual dealer's eNewsletter is graphically shown by the average ROI to date for the FLMDA eNewsletter program of over 500%.

7. The FLMDA eNewsletter program is automatically integrated with each dealer's Ford supplied SalesPoint lead management tool. This provides several benefits, such as the automatic optimization of a dealer's eNewsletter subscriber list by inserting new leads each month from the dealer's SalesPoint account, whether they use another lead management tool or not, the lead data is still in SalesPoint. When the dealer reaches whatever their contracted email list quantity limit is, the supplier begins pulling out consumer emails that have never opened the eNewsletter in previous months and replaces them with new email addresses and names of people appearing in the dealer's SalesPoint account.

8. The integration referenced in #7 also includes CAN-SPAM compliance assurance... This comes from the fact that of a customer "opts out" of a dealer's FLMDA eNewsletter, that Opt-out trigger is automatically pushed into SalesPoint so that the consumer preference is updated within SalesPoint. This ensures that if a dealer also sends broadcast emails using their SalesPoint eTool from Ford, they will not inadvertantly send a bulk email to a consumer that has opted out of bulk emails from that dealership when they received an eNewsletter from the store.

9. The FLMDA eNewsletter does not require that consumers complete an online form in order to submit a lead, since FLMDA has a database that includes all the customer information extracted from the dealer's DMS and any updates the dealer enters into SalesPoint, the customer only has to click on "Schedule a Test Drive" or any other link in order to generate a fully populated lead, including all phone numbers and addresses pulled from either the dealer's DMS or the SalesPoint lead management tool.

10. The FLMDA eNewsletter comes pre-configured with optimized links and hooks into the dealer's DealerConnection web site provided by Ford. Although many dealers will change these defaults to links from within their non-Ford supplied dealer website, this makes it especially easy for all dealers to either have a program that is ready to start within a week of submitting their enrollment, and/or provides a great way to see exactly how well the eNewsletter is working if the only thing they use their DealerConnection website for is as a landing page for their eNewsletter customers who click on any of the dealer website links within the eNewsletter. If the dealer's leads and phone calls from their normally unused DealerConnection website go up, then they have concrete evidence that the eNewsletter program is helping them sell more vehicles and generate more service business from a measurement source that is completely independent and outside of the eNewsletter program itself.

11. The FLMDA eNewsletter solution includes a fully staffed and live "Chat" feature embeded in all articles and pages within the eNewsletter itself. This allows consumers who receive the dealer's eNewsletter to have an online Chat conversation with a Ford factory trained Chat center agent, who is a real person, not a computer program. The FLMDA eNewsletter chat agents are dedicated to Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo and Mazda dealers and do not handle chat duties for other brands. These chat agents receive product training, have access to Ford supplied Source Books and get all rebate and incentive updates directly from Ford every time there is an update or change... which is AT LEAST weekly! For the most part, the FLMDA chat agents are college students working about 30 hours a week at the FLMDA eNewsletter Chat Center in Minneapolis, MN... Not India, Chine, Costa Rica or any other offshore call center! The FLMDA Chat Clients receive bonuses when they get the customer's name, email address and phone number if they are not in the system and have accessed the eNewsletter from outside the dealer's email list. If they are the majority of chat customers, the system recognizes who the customer is and the Cat Agents get a bonus if they are able to schedule an appointment for Sales, Service, Parts, Accessories, Collision Center or any other dealership profit center.

12. FLMDA eNewsletter provides dealers with robust reporting and tracking systems that give dealers real-time access to how many customers have opened the eNewsletter, which articles they have read and what Key Buying Activities have resulted from the eNewsletter being sent. The reporting tool also allows dealers to drill down and see which customers have read what articles... This is a great tool for lead follow-up and allows dealers to create lists of customers who have specific interests in certain models or activities which can then be reflected in the regular emails being sent from the dealer's lead management tools.

13. FLMDA eNewsletter is white listed and CAN-SPAM compliant. This means that the actual delivery rate into customer email inboxes is well over 98% because Spam Blockers have been neutralized by the white listing certification. FLMDA eNewsletter opt-outs to date have been less than 2%, which reflects the quality of content, the eNewsletter's design, look and feel. If customers did not like it, more would opt-out!

Ok, Brian, now its your turn to share what you believe are the key features of the IMN Loyalty Driver eNewsletter program that dealers would consider as your solution's primary value points...
Ralph,

For the most part this reads like our capability list from 2 years ago. I'm glad IMN can continue to be of service to ADP in that we provide the benchmark you keep trying to catch up to.

In all seriousness, I strongly object to using forums like this to advertise my products. That is not supposed to be the intent of these types of forums and it's disingenuous to use them otherwise. If anyone has any questions about Loyalty Driver they can feel free to contact me outside of the forum any time.

Meanwhile, the reason I jumped into this thread is you were showing one of our eNewsletters and linking it to a web site that advertised your eNewsletters. Please note I did not jump in to advertise myself or my company. We have received and seen several presentations from ADP/BZ that continue to show IMN Loyalty Driver eNewsletters and imply they were built by ADP/BZ. While I'm flattered that your company feels strongly enough about our products that they want to pretend they actually build them, the best thing you could do for us competitively is to show your own eNewsletters.

When and if you compose your next magnum opus of a response to this, please do so in a manner that indicates you know I won't be responding. The thread is over.

Thanks,

Brian
Wow... I really expected something a little more professional than slanderous statements and a sort of "I am gonna take my ball and go home" statement. Brian, as far as making statements like "That is not supposed to be the intent of these types of forums", who appointed you to be in charge of the Internet?!?!

Me thinks thou protests too much... Perhaps you are more comfortable making unsubstantiated statements without validating them. As far as any mistakes I may have made using screen captures of eNewsletters sent to me, or that I purchased from IMN, perhaps they are related to the fact that both myself and several of my colleagues tried to work with you and your organization only to discover that you fell short in the negotiating skills needed to close the deal.

Is that the REAL cause of your blatant negativity and unsubstantiated claims, because you are a sore loser? Or, is it that your ego was so bruised by rejection that you cannot regain professional composure and establish a basic level of civil communication with the business that selected your competitor?

So, you see Brian... You are WRONG AGAIN! The thread is not over.... The beat goes on!

Come on, where's your sense of perspective? Lighten up and stop taking yourself so seriously... You DO KNOW that you are not Napoleon... Don't you?
I have sent news letters out from in house and never knew who opened them etc etc, and found I was being black listed which in turn prevented me from getting even my first e-mails to some clients if the server they were on was one I was black listed with. I currently use outsell and I am very happy with every aspect of the service from the design, and they way they work with you to the reporting. A very excellent experience and company. my hats off to Outsell.

I might add that if you are not marketing to your current e-mail base then you are missing sales every month. Last year we gathered over 10,000 e-mail addresses from one campaign over two months, we are still marketing to that base and most important selling to that e-mail base. Oh lord bless me with another 50,000 e-mail addresses.
I love eNewsletters for dealers. They are a great, non-threatening way to keep in touch with your customers. What I do, is take the base IMN eNewsletter and add prices, payments, APR specials, service coupons, used cars and more to give the readers a reason to buy. I did an analysis of one of my dealerships by comparing the email addresses from those people who viewed that month's eNewsletter and those who purchased a car or had service work performed in the two week period after the newsletter came out. 16 of those people purchased a car and 66 had their vehicle serviced resulting in $40,000 in sales. Not bad for an under $1,000 a month investment!
Paul, the way you customize your eNewsletters and then track to the subsequent sale is awesome! Great comment and definitely a best practice that other automotive digital marketing professionals should consider implementing.
Another great topic! I am about to launch our own in house newsletter using the constant contact format. We have about 30,000 e-mails to work with and the cost is $250 a month to use the Constant Contact format. The advantage with doing them yourself is you can structure different campaigns to different prospect and customer types. You can also send out more then one per month then when you go with a company like IMN. IMN only sends out one a month and the cost we were paying was $600 a month. You can still get all the reports you want using Constant Contact, just like you would get with IMN. The only downside I see is it is one more thing for me to worry about, but I feel the rewards will be worth it. I will touch base and let you know how it turns out.
Alvin,

One of the many reasons why ADP Dealer Services abandoned their plans to use IMN is because we found that with Outsell they had developed the technology to create customized eNewsletters based on transactional data pulled from each dealer's DMS... So, like you point out, the articles, news and offers can be varied depending on where the customer is at in the ownership or replacement consideration cycle. We call this Intelligent Interactive Marketing and it really does bump up the numbers when tracking the eNewsletter results.

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