“Automotive Direct Mail is not dead!” Screams the mail-house from the mountain top. But they might just be right- especially when it comes to automotive campaigns. A Canada Post and True Impact Marketing study found that consumers who receive offline automotive direct mail ads were able to recall what they saw 75% of the time, whereas those who viewed the same ads in digital formats were only able to recall them 44% of the time. Yes, the internet is where people spend most of their time, but it’s also where they view most ads, so it’s no wonder that a sea of “notice me” ads often some become a blur. On the other hand, consider the first thing most people do when they get home from work: check the mail.
Even further than recall rate, the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report found that Direct mail response rates outperform digital channels in many ways, second only to phone calls. Plus, B2C Marketers rate automotive direct mail as the highest rate of success in new customer acquisition. So what are you waiting for? Here are 3 tips to get your prospects from the mailbox to the showroom.
Use a quality mailing list
When setting out to do a automotive direct mail there are three options: mailing to your current first-party data sets, purchasing a completely third-party list, or appending third-party data to your current data for more robust targeting. First-party data is at an advantage because it means the consumer is already familiar with your brand, and by providing their information they are showing that they would like to receive materials. This disadvantage is that this data can quickly become outdated and can often be input incorrectly to start with. This can lead to wasted marketing dollars on pricey mail pieces that never make it to the correct person. It can also lead to damaged reputation and brand relationship by mailing to addresses with misspelled and incorrect names or mailing offers that aren’t relevant to the prospect or customer. For instance sending an offer for a new car to a customer that just recently purchased will make your dealership look out of touch and unappreciative of the customer’s business.
A third-party list can be used for customer acquisition strategies, but these typically receive lower response rates than pieces sent to first-party lists. The introduction of data-as-a-service can improve these rates if the third-party purchased list is highly populated with details integral to focused, targeted messaging. When lists like these are used, a blanket postcard sent to those based on income and area code can be fine-tuned to consider specifics such as family makeup, life style, and life events (new parents, recent retirees, new movers, etc.). The third option, a mixture of both first and third party data, consists of integrating third-party data with the first-party data to append missing elements and shed light on demographic, behavioral, and lifestyle elements that can improve offer targeting.
Optimize your content
Once you’ve decided to mail to your own list, a purchased list, or your own list enhanced with third-party data, it’s time to calibrate your messaging so that it’s relevant and targeted. An example of using first-party enhanced with third-party data is a prospect who filled out a web form with their name and email address ( first-party data). While at first the information does not offer much insight into the type of call to action that will be most effective, when third-party data is appended to the contact information, marketers can now achieve a 360-degree customer view.
So now firstname.lastname@example.org becomes John Smith at 5555Waverly Way, owner of a 2010 Ford Explorer that has been in the shop 3 times for various mechanical issues in the past 3 months. John also just recently retired and his online ID has shown purchase indicators (searches, likes, conversations) that he’s interested in buying a certain brand of sports car. Now it’s pretty clear to marketers what type of marketing message John will most likely respond to. As previously mentioned, a quality third party list will have this data readily available even if it isn’t used in correlation with your first-party data.
The use of auto data appending is especially pertinent in automotive direct mail marketing, because in this case the 360-degree customer view isn’t complete without the consideration of the current vehicles owned by the prospects. Some consumers are absolutely loyal to one brand of car and this information is necessary so that marketers don’t waste dollars sending offers for a type of vehicle the consumer would never even consider. This data can also be used for buy-back offers and to target customers in current positive equity who are looking to purchase.
Consider your delivery
It’s important to remember that while data is the foundation of your campaign, the creative is what will grab their attention first. A/B testing and research on various colors, calls to action, and collateral type is imperative to the long term effectiveness of a automotive direct mail strategy. The 2015 DMA Response Rate Report found that oversized envelopes had the best response rate (5%) followed by post cards (4.25%), dimensional (4%), catalogs (3.9%), and letter sized envelopes (3.5%). But this doesn’t mean that these statistics will ring true for your target audience. Some marketers claim that a personalized letter does best for their prospects, others a flashy post card – it really depends on your audience and your dealership. A little testing will go a long way.
Don’t stop there
While automotive direct mail campaigns can see positive results, it’s really going to show the most ROI when it’s implemented as a multichannel campaign. The most popular channels to integrate with a automotive direct mail campaign are email and social media (cited by 44% of survey respondents), and it’s important to consider your web page as well. Research shows that 44% of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving automotive direct mail marketing, and 48% retain the piece for future reference. So make sure your website is optimized for mobile and ready for traffic before your piece is sent out. Edmunds.com estimates that there will be $18.1 million in new car and truck sales in 2016. Don’t miss out on a piece of the pie by ignoring a tried and true marketing channel.