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This is out of the ordinary, I know. Me… a guy who achieved success in retail from being an early advocate of Internet lead management, video, and digital marketing… talking about the benefits of a traditional marketing medium. Stranger things have happened...
Just because I believe in the power of online influence in the retail sales industry doesn’t mean I turn up my nose at traditional mediums, such as direct mail. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen some clients generate a solid return from their direct mail campaigns, but only when those efforts are digital. Let me explain.
Direct mail marketing is one of those things that is either ignored, or works incredibly well. There is no third result. Direct mail is viewed as either noise to the public or an opportunity to the consumer. However, a good friend of mine always said, the best thing about the Internet is that it’s quantifiable. For a long time, direct mail wasn’t truly quantifiable. Not until you layer digital marketing on top of it. If you want to place paper inside mailboxes around your PMA, here are 7 ways to make your direct mail digital.
1) Dealer-branded Landing Pages
This isn’t uncommon. Many direct mail providers create landing pages for their clients, but they must be dealer-branded, and not offer-branded. There needs to be very limited things for the recipient/shopper to do on the site, but I’ve seen it work well when the end-user enters a special code on the page, and it immediately shows them all of their own personal information. This builds credibility that your dealership knows the customer and it isn’t solely a spray and pray piece of marketing fluff. If the direct mail piece is for the common trade buy-back, this landing page should ask them to reconfirm their personal trade information as it creates legitimacy in the offer.
2) Remarketing the Offer
Let’s say your direct mail piece works and drives a potential client to your landing page. Why entrust it will get them to enter their information? Your direct mail provider should be placing remarketing code on the page, and that specific offer should follow that consumer as long as possible. Once again, it will become to look more like an offer than a gimmick, if they see it everywhere.
3) In partnership with Email Marketing
Direct mail envelopes can be coded and tracked in a way that your provider will know almost the exact day the mail piece will show up in the recipient’s mailbox. Imagine sending a targeted email to each and every consumer the day the mail piece is due to arrive with a “heads up” that they’ll be receiving a great opportunity in the mail that day that is only valid until a certain date. Might they give it a second glance? I believe so. These two mediums can work in unison.
Your direct mail, and the associated digital assets that come along with it, should be converted into an ADF/XML lead whenever possible. It isn’t enough to simply blast mail into homes, but to generate a lead of interest from the recipients. Allow consumers to respond online (a more responsive medium than mail), as well as create a lead that can be worked and followed up with if the client shows any initial interest. This one piece now leverages multiple mediums: print/email/phone.
Business owners want to visually see their money at work. Your direct mail provider should be sharing with you a dashboard so you can see the true value of the campaign. From this dashboard, dealers should be able to :
a) see each mail piece and who it was delivered to
b) show total calls by campaign, total leads, contacts, visits, by cost, etc.
c) listen to inbound phone calls recorded from those recipients that responded with a call to the store/call center
d) allow notes to be added under each customer as to their interest
e) push/duplicate leads into their CRM from the dashboard
6) Proof of Return on Investment
We’ve become more in-tune with watching our marketing dollars deliver results. Is your direct mail tied into your DMS? As an industry, we can no longer trust that our providers are delivering an acceptable return on investment; it must be proven. There should be proof of credit establishing that the direct mail pieces truly delivered a sale/service. Instead of sending a weekend piece, noticing after the weekend that you sold a few extra cars than normal, and equating that success to the campaign, it must be justified. Your direct mail provider should be able to share with you Conquest (new customer) profit generated vs. Retention (previous/aged) business generated.
7) In-Showroom Apps
For all of those mail pieces promoting an “event sale”, it isn’t enough to have people walk in with the flyer. We have to be measuring their rate of visits. Mobile technology has evolved in a way where an app can register that customer the moment they show up. That app can display that customer’s data to the salesperson and then send their information (name, number, and email address) directly into the CRM as a showroom up, saving the salesperson time from logging them in manually. This mobile technology not only builds credibility, but it reinforces the need for having brought the flyer in, while speeding up the shopping process for the prospect.
Leveraging today’s digital technology to improve direct mail’s effectiveness is a necessary strategy. As a business owner spending marketing dollars, regardless of the medium, we must monitor the ad spend, track the customer, influence the recipient, create a professional environment, and measure the campaign’s profitability. This can only be done if you make your direct mail digital. That’s the key that will start a car every time.