Dealer mixes digital tools, personal ties – Automotive News (subscription) (blog)

At Friendly Chevrolet in Fridley, Minn., north of Minneapolis, Margie Martin uses data-driven tools to enhance — but not replace — her community-oriented marketing approach.

Martin, the dealership’s Internet sales manager, implemented the BuyerScout marketing program from Outsell in April, adding to the store’s digital tools.

After one month with the new program, Martin credits it for helping to sell 13 additional vehicles, place 226 more service orders and earn an extra $32,000 in gross profit. Friendly Chevrolet sold 328 new and used vehicles for the month.

Martin swears by data-driven tactics to pull in potential buyers, saying a store otherwise would be blindly swatting at customers. “You’ve got to stay on top of the market — and stay on top of it with technology.”

Because so much business is done with mobile technology, Martin says, stores need to be prepared to do business across platforms.

But she also says the key to working well with Outsell is focusing on customers on a personal level, rather than viewing them as blips of data.

“Being able to read customers and what they’re interested in” is critical, she says. “To know those people, you need to know how they work and know what really makes them happy.”

Friendly Chevrolet is surrounded by high schools and American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. The city is also home to the operational headquarters of Medtronic Inc., a global medical technology company.

Martin takes those community realities into account when reaching out to potential customers.

For instance, her store’s marketing software can auto generate a monthly newsletter for dealerships, listing each store’s deals. Martin says some dealerships don’t want to take the time to localize the newsletter, so they send it out as is. But Martin rewrites the newsletter, personalizing it for the community.

Or consider equity mining. It allows Martin to track customers who are ready to trade in their vehicle for a new one. The data tell her who to target, but she knows how to target. In addition to email blasts and newsletters, Martin says, her market responds well to mailed brochures and postcards, all of which increase floor and Web traffic.

The Outsell buyer detection tool Friendly uses helps to determine how interested customers are based on how long they’ve been on the dealership’s website, as well as whether they are repeat customers.

The program’s targeting tools then reach out to potential customers, maybe by placing an ad on a consumer’s browser screen based on his or her Friendly searches. Retargeting through customer relationship management software results in an email of snowplow coupons, for example, to customers who recently bought or searched for a pickup.

What it comes down to, Martin says, is taking advantage of technological tools to understand customers on a digital level, as well as knowing them on a personal level.

“Analytics are a great tool, no doubt, and definitely will show that what you are doing is working or not,” Martin says. But in addition, “knowing your customer base or neighborhood should definitely influence your marketing.”

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