Archive for June, 2008

Meeting the Challenge of Automotive Direct Mail and Online Marketing

June 11, 2008

Rock and Hard PlaceAuto Dealers are truly between a rock and a hard place (see image of auto dealer to the left). On the one hand, they know that good direct mail works, and on the other hand they know that some good online marketing works too. This forces some dealers into having to make a decision because since neither is free, and since most dealers don’t have an unlimited advertising budget, most stores will be able to only utilize one or the other. But if the decision needs to be made, which should they pick?

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the features of each that make them successful. Then we will consider a proposed solution of integrating the two and synthesizing the successful features of both direct mail and online marketing.

Automotive Direct Mail: There isn’t a conceivable scenario in which direct mail can become obsolete all together for the automotive industry. Think about this, if everyone decided to stop doing it, it would create an open market with no competition and before you know it everyone would be mailing again. Unless some kind of law or restriction on who can mail what is legislated, direct mail isn’t going anywhere and will still remain one of the more preferable means of automotive advertising.

Successful Features of Direct Mail: 

  • Delivery is straight to prospect in the home
  • Tangible means that can not only be seen, but felt, handled, etc.
  • Direct Mail is received and reviewed at a specific time of day allocated for such things as opening and reading mail
  • Variable printing makes offer personalized
  • Control of geographic distribution
  • Results are immediate compared to other means

Online Marketing: This can be a broad descriptive category, but for our purposes here we will limit the term to include email blasts, third-party leads, SEO, microsites, and spots. This medium has potentially unlimited possibilities and is limited only by the imagination of the developers. It is obviously inevitable that the day will soon come when a nationwide de-sensitization of internet users will lead to the ignoring of such ads that say, “Click Here For A Free Vehicle Delivered To Your Home!” With so many unlimited opportunities for marketers online, internet users are quickly becoming aware of scams, tricks, and “specials” that are perceived as over-promising and under-delivering. The skill for online marketers will be in separating dealer ads from the rest of the online ads that users will become conditioned to viewing as literally invisible.

Successful Features of Online Marketing: 

  • Large audience is online
  • Internet is used for research
  • Prospects prefer internet to respond online vs. calling toll-free
  • User controls the pace online
  • Internet is interactive

These highlighted features of the two mediums of direct mail and online marketing provide a framework for us to explore the consideration of a synthesis of the two. This consideration is what led to the development of Hill Marketing’s progressive line of automotive marketing tools. We have masterfully produced colorful customized mail pieces that maximize personalization while providing customer response options both by toll-free numbers as well as online.

The toll-free number doesn’t need explanation at this point, so I want to take a look at the call-to-action response online option. In addition to top-performing direct mail design, prospects are provided with a website to visit that contains their name in the url. This is bound to get their attention and worst case, due to sheer curiosity, provoke them to visit the site online. This transition from direct mail to online is prompted by the prospect’s own personal name in the url on the mailer. Example, if the prospect’s name is John Greenleaf, his mailer will have a url in big letters that says: Hey John, be sure to visit to get your personalized message from ABC motors.

When the prospect logs on to his personalized url, he will find a customized landing page that is designed to look like the direct mail design. This maintains the theme of the campaign and immediately strikes familiarity on the subconscious level of the prospect’s mind. The customizable, personal landing page will have a personal message in the prospect’s name and will correspond with any other pertinent information.

The landing page will feature an interactive section where the prospect will be able to fill out a form with survey and comment box. This landing page, due to the specific route the prospect used to get there, can employ many of the great tricks of the internet such as, “As soon as you complete the form below, you will be eligible to win one of the following prizes!”

The prizes will be the same prizes that are used in standard direct mail, the biggest difference is that instead of having to visit the dealership to become eligible to win, all the prospect has to do is visit his personal website from the convenience of his leisure. This will substantially increase response rates and allow dealers to capture valuable information that direct mail could never do.

For instance, the survey on the landing page can determine whether the prospect owns or leases, whether they will be in the market in the next 30 days, 4-6 months, over 1 year, or over 2 years, whether they prefer new or used, etc., as well as whatever comments the prospect wishes to submit. Over time, the data captured here can become the dealers most valuable list, and the web traffic to this page can far exceed the dealer’s own website, virtual showroom, online inventory, etc.

We will also offer a customizable “Thank You” page upon exiting that can offer a link to dealer website along with any message desired. We will also provide dealers with a stat page that tracks all the action (traffic activity) that the mailer generates. This comprehensive statistics page is a great tool for managers to follow-up with on leads given to the sales staff.

Now, I have leaked just about enough information to scratch the surface of the intelligent person’s curiosity. If you don’t get it, yet, you will soon – but probably in the mail from a rival competitor. What we have accomplished is the perfect balance between direct mail and online marketing without raising the investment one would have to make for a very inexpensive direct mailer. For samples and more information, or to quickly set something up at your store, click here and we’ll send you our media kit.

Automotive Direct Mail: Recent Results and “Across the Board” Averages

June 9, 2008

This is a record of eight recent sales events I did using automotive direct mail. I will list the response rate, dealership location (State), and an “across the board” average for a hard number on our automotive direct mail performance! 

  • 3.39% – TX
  • 2.50% – TX
  • 1.74% – TN
  • 2.22% – TX
  • 1.72% – AL
  • 4.95% – NH
  • 2.72% – OH
  • 2.04% – NC

The combined “across the board” average is 2.65% response rate. These do not include responses that circumvented the process in which leads are logged. We can reasonably add at least a half percent in non-logged responses, bringing our “across the board” average to an (unconfirmed) 3.15%ON AUTOMOTIVE DIRECT MAIL!

Do you see now how I can unashamedly boast of having the TOP-PERFORMING automotive direct mail products in the country? How is your mail company doing?