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Over the past few months social media has taken on a life of its own both in and out of the Retail Automotive Industry. It’s been incredible to watch. Like a shiny new toy I have seen the blogs fill with internet managers talking about social media, the blogs I have posted about social media have gotten 5X the attention in comments than that of others, it seems many are scrambling to involved, as they should. In Fact I recently read an article that the new Mac OS, Snow Leopard is integrated Facebook address directly into its own address book as I am sure MS Outlook will soon follow suit. Your customers are tweeting, flickering and facebooking at a rapid pace and you need to keep up.

Unfortunately what I am not seeing a lot of is THE MESSAGE, at the heart of all this for the marketer is the message. What this comes down to is that social media is another communications channel. like email, voice, text, search and even your lot and sign you are communicating a message and looking for ways to match that message to the customers that you are communicating to. Each of customers that comes from these mediums have a certain disposition and worldview, RELEVANCY is still king and we need to beware not to confuse the media with the message; technology on its own is not persuasive.

I recently got this email from a dealership on Back to School Savings; luckily I have kids so this message kinda makes sense, when you find out that the dealership sends this message to everyone well that’s now a different story. Go even further and the fact that this is a Cadillac dealership, you then realize that a big portion of their customers don’t have kids or their kids are grown and out of the house. How many just said to themselves naa I don’t have kids in school this isn’t relevant to me? I am betting a great deal. How many opted out? Someone clearly dropped the ball here, there are so many different ways this would have been better.


Let’s start with the subject line “Back to School Service Savings from ABC Cadillac” (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) well what about for customers we know have kids “It’s time for School here are savings to keep your family safe on their way” or if you don’t know if the customer has kids or not “Schools back that means more kids and traffic… is your car ready”. Either one of these subject lines would have gotten a far better read and click through rate.

Now let’s review the content. Rather than a chalk board and apple which has nothing to do with the diving conditions during the school year why not a bus with kids crossing the road to board a school bus and a crossing guard. I found this one on Google images in less than a minute.


Now the message:
Dear Larry,

Summer is in full swing, and we know the kids don't want to hear it, but school is just around the corner. Make sure your Venture is ready for all your family travel needs by taking advantage of these great Back-To-School Service savings today!

If school is just around the corner summer certainly is NOT in full swing, if anything its “winding down” and you have taken your summer vacations putting wear and tear on your tires and breaks…right?

The coupons here are good, but the detail of the offer (the FINE PRINT) at the bottom…please guys this is the epitome of not being transparent. Why not let the customer click on one of those coupons and get the details in a conversion path or Microsite? Then you may take even farther to ask the customer in the path is this an emergency repair or a check up? So the message why you want those capons… not so much and the detail surrounding it well the fine print speaks volumes (you obviously don’t want me to know). These are just a few things, there is so much wrong with this email they are too many to mention.


The moral of this blog post MESSAGE MATTERS and in today’s media rich world it’s the little things that matter most, BE Authentic, BE Genuine, BE Transparent but also BE Relevant or BE Ignored. I wonder if we are all chasing shiny new objects without thinking for the message that should go with it? Don’t get caught up in Web 2.0 technology, work to understand how each channel works and the motivations of the people that use them. A good message in any medium can be effective, and a bad message can’t cured by Web 2.0.

Your customers must be compelled to act, allow them the choice to segment themselves based on what interests them the most. If you don’t you will just blend in with the rest of the white noise and no one will hear what you have to say.

Hope this helps

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Tags: landing, marekting, marketing, page, post-click-marketing, sem, seo, web, website

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Comment by Larry Bruce on August 29, 2009 at 5:47am
James I know which vendor this dealer uses for email marketing so I can safely say it wasn't used by all GM dealers. In the sprit of fairness I don't believe it is appropriate to say who the vendor was, however I will add that they are a prominent email marketing provider in the industry.

The poor message mach to customer for this email is just one element. I can count over 20 things that could have been done differently with this email to get better deliverability, content, message match and results. PAY ATTENTION TO THE MESSAGE no matter what channel you are using email, SMS, voice, direct mail, SEM, your dealerships lot, your website, and yes even social media.

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Comment by Sebastian James on August 28, 2009 at 7:31pm
I agree on the dubiousness of sending "back to school" promotions to Caddy owners. What I wonder is whether this was a template used by a GM dealer across all lines.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on August 28, 2009 at 4:29pm
I wonder if the subject line verbiage is having more impact because of the more prevalent use of "alert" tools that display the entire subject as a pop up window on a PC, and as a scrolling text message on smart phones. There is also the "search" factor with web based email clients such as Gmail which weigh words in the subject line higher than body text. Whatever is going on, one thing is for certain... The way people choose which email messages to open and read is both evolving and changing from the way it was done a few years ago. For example, the percentage of all emails being viewed on mobile devices is dramatically higher today than just 2 years ago... Despite the rise of the iPhone ( which I am using right now) Blackberry is the top selling brand of phone in the USA for 2009 YTD through the end of July. The shift from desktop PC to mobile devices may be having a big impact on the way emails are being selected for opening and downloading content that remains on servers until the mobile device calls for it. This may be resulting in a greater positive impact from more info in subject lines versus less... And, that is the way I see it changing as well based on data from over 3,000,000 outbound emails being sent from our servers on behalf of over 2,000 dealers.

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Comment by Larry Bruce on August 28, 2009 at 12:59pm
Joy a year ago I would have agreed with you, however we are seeing in A/B testing that a little more info in the subject is getting a better click through and conversion rate for our dealers.

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