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Establishing long-term relationships with you customers is becoming more challenging than ever before. You can't rely on any single channel to get in front of them and truly reach them with your messages if you're only hitting them from one or two fronts. You need to be in front of them regularly in the places that they're checking.
I originally published this article over at AutomotiveSocial.com but thought it would fit in nicely at ADM:
Customer loyalty is a tough cookie to crack nowadays. It's not like before when things were more predictable, when you could make assumptions about timing and situations. Today, you never know when the situation will change to where someone is in the market to buy a car immediately. The standard buying cycle has been replaced by a chaotic weaving of changes to job, relationships, and circumstance.
Another thing has changed. People are not inherently loyal to any particular dealership. Sure, there are regular customers who will only buy a car from one dealership, but the number of people who self-maintain loyalty is going down. Today, every customer is a free agent waiting to happen and the only way you can keep them from jumping ship is to be in front of them regularly.
The bad news is that there are so many ways for people to communicate today that it's hard to focus on one way or another. There were dealerships that lived off of mailers, for example, and built the company around being in their customers' mailboxes regularly. For others, email has been a golden ticket, but even that ticket has waned in the wake of advanced spam filters that often exclude messages simply because they have the wrong wording. Today, it's important to get in front of your customers with the right message through multiple channels.
Loyalty is a funny thing. Earlier, I noted that people are less likely to be loyal today than before, but that's not just a function of society's shift towards a digital world that gives them more choices than they can handle. It's also a function of dealerships getting complacent with their messaging and either not sending them out enough or doing so with inferior techniques in an effort to simply "check the box" on having a database marketing plan. If it's not a good plan, you're often better off not trying at all. With spam filters the way they are today, it's possible to do damage to your database by using amateur techniques while trying to reach people.
One of the reasons that I joined Visible Customer in the first place was because they had the right plan. Dealers can apply this plan to multiple portions of their marketing beyond loyalty and conquest. They can take advantage of the concepts of analytics and intelligence marketing, proper dealership management, and building loyalty through referrals and sharing of their positive experiences to better position the rest of their marketing efforts. Whether it's social media, website presence, television ads, or just about anything else they're doing with their marketing, knowing how to engage your customers (past, present, and future) can be the difference between succeeding and failing.
With everything that you're doing, don't assume that any one channel is enough to make it work. You can get great results from this, that, or the other, but when you start combining the different channels to put the messages out there in front of the right people. you can dramatically improve the way that the messages are getting through. You can send messages to people or you can reach people. There's a difference. It's all about strategy.
The market is thriving. Some dealerships are taking advantage of these times. Others are simply reaping some of the benefits without aggressively moving forward.