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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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All,

I'll dive back into address a few items. First, this site is Ralph's playground. As a competitive vendor who believes online forums are NOT the appropriate place to advertise, I will never get a fair shake here. However, let me address a few items:

1. Ralph- we knew you were on the call and we got a kick out of it. The software we use for demos shows us how many have logged in. Plus, other folks at the company gave us the heads up.

2. IMN's history with ADP came to a screeching halt when ADP, while walking down the aisle with us, turned and said "Now you know you'll have to buy your ADP customer base out from under us, right?" We ran from the wedding hall and have since doubled our customer base.

3. Ford dealers: We continue to sign a bunch of Ford dealers on on a continuous basis. Almost every time a Ford dealer has gotten the ADP pitch, then seen Loyalty Driver, they sign on for Loyalty Driver. Our product is vastly superior. I DO NOT deny there may be satisfied ADP Ford dealers out there (Mike Warwick), but I am telling you that most often, when compared, we win. Mike- since you are 20 minutes from my office I would love to swing by and show you Loyalty Driver. I have no doubt you will be a believer once you have seen the deep dive on the product. I'm traveling all this week but I'm back in Boston on Friday. How about I swing by?

4. In retrospect, the only thing that disappointed me about not getting the deal done with ADP was not getting the chance to work with Ralph. As much as he is a ruthless competitor and master of the backhanded compliment, I actually like the guy. I assume at some level the feeling is mutual, since he wrote in my profile "you have one of the best digital marketing products I have ever used." Still do.

5. Loyalty Driver has ALWAYS been able to do dynamic content. It is easy and painless and it something some of our dealers choose to do. However, dynamic content is most often used as a smokescreen by e-mail companies. It sounds sexy and useful but in reality a well designed enewsletters eliminates the need for dynamic content (and the attendant complication involved in initial setup of dynamic content).

6. ADP sells Outsell eNewsletters. Outsell resells Tailored Mail eNewsletters. IMN owns its own software which is currently in use by 1,200 dealers and many Fortune 500 companies. It's why ADP's capabilities list reads like ours from two years ago and it's why you keep seeing ADP/Outsell "innovations" being announced a year or two after we launch ours. ADP is adding text couponing capabilities to their eNewsletters "sometime in 2009." Neat. We announced "Show Your Phone," our text couponing capability, in December of 2007 and now have many dealers using it. IMN will always be the Apple to ADP's Microsoft. We're smaller, lighter, more innovative, and we create an extraordinarily focused and high quality product vs. the hamfisted attempts of ADP to be all things to all people.

In summary, IMN can't match it when ADP comes in and whispers in a dealers' ear that they will "throw everything in as part of the renewal," but when a dealer is looking for the best eNewsletter marketing solution available to the auto industry, they buy IMN Loyalty Driver.

'Nuff said. I reiterate my belief that these forums are not supposed to be for advertisers and it cheapens the entire concept of these forums for me to be in the midst of a comparison of mine vs. Ralph's. Keep in mind the only reason I dove in was because Ralph was showing an IMN eNewsletter and linking it to an ADP site. Maybe it's my much vaunted "ethics and integrity" Ralph keeps bringing up, but I prefer to do my selling outside of social networking forums ostensibly setup for the common good. I also don't believe in misrepresenting my product or allowing others to misrepresent it. Score again for my "ethics and integrity."

All I ask is if any of you are interested in eNewsletters at a minimum you should look at Loyalty Driver before making a final decision. As always, I encourage everyone to contact me via phone or e-mail if I can answer any questions.

Thanks,

Brian
Now, THAT's what I call coming back in and swinging! Good job, Brian... I am glad you went back on your posted word and took a shot at this.

Of course, I respectfully disagree with you on a couple of issues... First and foremost, YES, there have been times I was listening to you and you did not know. As for the call I believe you are referencing, I clearly stated my presence during the discussion and you and I had a dialogue. Enough said about that, except I believe you squander your credibility with customers when you sound like a raving maniac... And, this comes from a guy that uses passion on a daily basis!

In regards to online forums, this professional community (ADM) was created specifically for the purpose of discussions exactly like this and many more... I have clearly stated that the ADM community is an open forum for digital marketing professionals to show their wares, best practices and express their opinions. There is no censorship, except for the occasional pornography or mail order Russian Bride peddlers. I do not remove content that I disagree with, nor do I overly promote products from the company I work for, unless I believe in them and have seen them produce good results. I would expect the same from people like yourself.

You NEED to believe in your products and be passionate about them, and so do i... None of us claim perfection, but we all can learn from each other. The reality is that any way you look at it, Outsell offers a viable and competitive product to IMN and some dealers will prefer one over the other. Competition is good, and it only makes us all get better as suppliers, with dealers winning in the long run.
Would "I am glad you went back on your posted word" be one of those backhanded compliments from Ralph that you mentioned previously? In any event, good for you Brian! I've used both products and they are both excellent. I saw a few mentions of Constant Contact and can't understand how anyone is using that product with any effectiveness. They want your email list to be so clean that you had better limit it to close friends and family. Am I the only person who had a bad experience and found them a waste of time?
Mike... You got me on that one... I guess the backhanded compliment is one of my characteristics that used to get me in a lot of trouble with car buyers as well... Thankfully, my sister Lisa was the CSI Manager and she was pretty good at fading the heat i created, sometime.

Anyways, I hope my written words conveyed the message that, like you, I have used both products and they are both very good. If I had to sum up with a statement about what I liked better about one product versus the other, I would say I liked the non-automotive articles that IMN supplies better than what i see from Outsell, and i like the database and email list management provided by Outsell better than what I used with IMN, or see to this day from IMN.

One last thing, IMN has some of the best Digital Marketing sales professionals I have met... Rechelle Gryparis is great and really takes good care of her dealers and organizations. And, despite his snarly attitude to me now, when i was a customer of IMN, Brian Epro was great to work with. What he describes in the failed partnership with ADP, the one that I initiated, is not what i witnessed, and I was inside ADP trying to make it happen... What I saw was Brian being too greedy in that he wanted all the money and none of the dealer support burden... But, hey, there is always two sides to every story about a business partnership that didn't happen.

One other thing... I am VERY HAPPY that there are now two legitimate competitors in the dealer eNewsletter business. For awhile it looked like IMN was going to have a monopoly, and that is never very good for the customers, in this case the dealers. The ADP eNewsletter Program's biggest challenge is that our sales team has so many digital marketing products to sell, whereas Brian's sales team is highly focused on one product.

However, despite what any salesperson says, the technically superior way the ADP/Outsell eNewsletter optimizes the dealer's email database over time based on who is reading what, and the content optimization intelligence that sends the right eNewsletter configuration to each dealership customer, and even lets the customer personalize the content they receive is much more engaging and "Web 2.0 like" than the one size fits all approach that IMN offers, and brian seems so proud of... (and the big Ralphinator comes back with a left hook to the jaw)
Hey Ralph

I realize I am considerably late but I had to add to this one.

I have done my own newsletter or better put what I thought was a newsletter and am currently using IMN. We currently have a customer base of about 5800.

At first I ran blind and really had no idea what was or was'nt coming from anything that I was doing. It was'nt until I was finally able to add some counters and get some demographics was I able to determine how little an effect I was actually having on my own. First of all the number of undeliverable e-mails we're hugh. Not because of address's were bad but because of the protection on the services being sent to, and my bounce was was just as horrible. I'm sure that had to do with content.

After signing with IMN is when I learned the value of a real Newsletter. Although the rates are a little high, we are now experiencing a 1% exception request rate, a bounce rate of +/- 4% and a page rate in the 10% per page with an average at times as high as 6 min. That is all great. Of all of that the biggest thing for me was getting into the customer hands. The return was the biggest problem I had and as the numbers show that has all but disappeared. The biggest difference for me and what made up my mind to fight for the product was just that. IMN as I am sure the other programs do is to send out the e-mails on a per e-mail basis thus never having the chance to become spam or black listed.

I could very well be wrong in some of my assesments as I am sure both Ralph and Brian will be sure to correct me. The bottom line is, at least for me, you cannot afford to do it yourself and have any appreciable ROI.

I will, more because I have to as a FLM dealer check into Outsell simply due to the possibility of getting back some of my money from Ford. How ever after dealing with Ford since before FordDirect, nothing makes me more nervous than again couning of Ford products to get the job done. Hence Salepoint. DCS and others.

PS: has anyone heard if Mike Stewart (Video Guy) will be at the Digital Dealer conference or will there be any good video classes. Not just someone trying to sell thier product.

Again as always, thanks so much.
Andy,

Thank you for sharing your first-hand experiences... The point you are making is pretty much what i was trying to illustrate when I posted this discussion in the first place. Regardless of whether you use the IMN or Outsell supplied solution, any dealer is going to get better results than an in-house effort using dealer based email servers and the types of broadcast emails that ILM and CRM tools provide to dealers. Your experience is similar to the experience I had, and so many other dealers are finding as well. A professionally supplied Dealer eNewsletter is a lot more effective than any home-made version I have seen to date.

What I believe would improve effectiveness of any eNewsletter supported customer relationship and business development program would be to tie the eNewsletter to a genuine online dealer community, such as the ones we have started to pilot at:

1. www.Ford-Community.com
2. www.SandersonCommunity.com
3. www.San-Tan-Ford.com


The ability to engage previous customers, new prospects, suppliers and employees in this sort of open dialogue based online community has tremendous potential to build loyalty and business opportunities focused on something more than just the best price.

One of the things I like best about many Dealership eNewsletters is the soft sell relationship building characteristics of supplying useful information while inviting the consumer to get engaged in a manner that is not an in-your-face sales pitch. The concept of an online community is to bring together hundreds of people with a similar interest and geographic location so they can exchange information, show off their vehicles and what they do with them, as well as find out answers to questions they have from other users who live in their area.
I have used constant contact for 2 years putting them out 4 times a year. Yes they are like a term paper comming due. iI enjoy doing them. I have sold 2-3 cars per newsletter $50 a month

Email Statistics
See All Email Reports
Sent Bounces Spam Reports Opt-outs Opens Clicks Forwards
1397 5.2% (72) 1 1.5% (21) 28.2% (373) 37.8% (141) 0

Next month am gonna try a all video newsletter. I think for me it will be easer to come up with content on video.

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