Dealerships are heavily focused on improving their digital marketing strategies to acquire new customers in the “next normal”, and that’s good! One area that might be overlooked is keeping in contact with and retaining existing customers. We at American Solutions for Business have ideas and best practices that you can implement to maintain frequent “touchpoints” with your customers, even when you can’t meet with them in person.
Most dealerships already have a Facebook page with varying levels of activity and some may even have an Instagram page. Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to keep in touch with customers. It starts with ensuring that your customers are aware of your social media presence. Any advertising that you do (print, radio, television) should include a prompt to follow your dealership on social media. Take the opportunity to utilize customer-friendly spaces such as service desks and waiting areas to display signage with your social media information and encouragement to like and follow.
It’s important to make sure your social media is worth following and that you have a variety of platforms to interact with customers. The most common platforms for dealerships are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; some are also embracing TikTok. Make sure your content is frequent and interesting. Don’t just post pictures of your inventory. Customers want to develop a relationship with your dealership and experience what is like to be a part of your dealership “family”. Share stories about community involvement, highlight exceptional employees, be authentic, and add a little humor. People love funny videos and memes. Someone on your staff likely knows how to harness social media trends for business purposes. You just have to find that person. They may be in the last place you’d think to look, like the parts department, or perhaps one of your porters. Don’t overlook an employee for an opportunity to help you with your social media strategy just because they don’t have a marketing or communications degree.
Newsletters are a largely forgotten art that is due for a comeback! Not all of your customers are on social media, but most, if not all, have a mailing address and many have email addresses that they have shared with you as well. Consider putting out a monthly or quarterly newsletter in both physical print and email to your customers. Like your social media posts, your newsletter shouldn’t be consumed by the inventory you have for sale. This is a chance to deepen your relationship with your customers and bring them into the “family”. Highlighting the personal story of an employee, talking about community involvement and sharing information about dealership upgrades or improvements are all important pieces of content in a well-rounded newsletter. You should also consider featuring an educational piece in your newsletter, something that teaches your customer to be a savvier car owner or buyer. Some examples might be “Spring Car Wash Best Practices” or “Vehicle Financing 101”.
You can sprinkle parts and service specials into your newsletter and if you’re hiring, this would be a great place to advertise your open positions! You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a newsletter work for both direct mail and email recipients. Making the pieces virtually identical each time you publish ensures that your customers will enjoy all of the information you share, no matter which medium they choose to consume it from.
Loyalty programs and special offers are another great way to maintain regular touchpoints with a customer. Offering rewards when a customer does business with your dealership in each of the various departments increases the value of your relationship with the customer. Consider also adding points or rewards on a monthly or quarterly basis or sending exclusive offers to loyalty program participants. To enhance your loyalty program, consider offering branded apparel and promotional products both in-store and via e-Commerce that can be purchased with loyalty points.
Subscription boxes are a newer trend in customer engagement, one that has increased in value since the pandemic began. Many consumers subscribe to one or more subscription boxes, while most are for replacing monthly consumed products. More and more subscription boxes are coming to the market that contain surprise items that fit a certain theme and are subscribed to for the experience of receiving and “unboxing”.
You can replicate this as a marketing tool by choosing a few automotive-related, branded promotional items and apparel, then, designing some exciting packaging to be sent in a quarterly or semi-annual box to your subscribers. Your subscribers could be a list of specifically chosen customers or you could offer a subscription box as one of the items for purchase with your loyalty program (or both!).
Keeping in touch with customers is vital to a profitable business. It’s no secret that it costs significantly more to earn a new customer than to maintain a relationship with an existing customer. Be sure to surprise and delight your customer so they’ll look forward to hearing from you each time you reach out.
Your American Solutions for Business sales associate can help you develop a strategy centered around each of the customer-touchpoint ideas we’ve presented here today. Don’t have an ASB sales associate? Click here to find your local rep!