Automotive SMS Marketing for Car Dealers
Wait, wait, wait… what are you saying? You’re not yet using SMS marketing and sending text messages to your customers? Ouch, you’re missing out big time and let me explain why.
I want to open your eyes to one of the most powerful communication technologies available for your dealership: SMS or text message marketing.
With an average SMS open rate of 98% compared to 20% for emails and a 45% response rate for SMS compared to only 6% for emails, you can see why your dealership absolutely needs to harness this tool.
SMS Marketing is The Perfect Complement To Your Email Marketing Strategy
But the edge of SMS marketing doesn’t stop to open rates. Listen to this: It takes the average person 90 seconds to respond to a text while it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email. That’s because 95% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes, with most on average being read in under 5 seconds. And think about it, nobody deletes a text message without reading it.
Now don’t take me wrong, I’m not dissing email marketing. It is still one of the three most powerful marketing tools to drive traffic and sales for dealerships. Make sure to read the blog I wrote on the subject if you haven’t. But SMS marketing is a necessary complement to your email strategy and will strengthen some of the inherent weaknesses of an email campaign.
Need an additional “kicker” to get you onboard with SMS automotive marketing? Check this statistic from Digital Marketing Magazine claiming that 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS. Yes, 75% of your dealership’s customers want you to send them text messages!
Now for obvious reasons, the importance of SMS marketing rides on the coattail of the rising popularity of mobile phones; and with the growing lists of mobile capabilities and functions added to mobile devices daily, you know mobile technology is not something going away anytime soon. In fact, with the meteoric rise of mobile phones, you know most of your customers will have their device in their hands or pockets when you
send them your text messages, which is a marketer’s dream!
Warning: Be Prepared For Some Rough Replies
Now if on the one hand, you have 75% of your customers who would like to get offers by text messages, be prepared for some coarse replies from some of the members of the other 25%. SMS marketing is very personal, more so than email. People are used to getting newsletters, invoices, corporate communications and even some SPAM in their email inbox; but text messages are still mostly used by many for friends, family members and colleagues.
For this reason, don’t be surprised by some of the harsh replies you get from some individuals who don’t want your dealership on their phone. Don’t take it personally, and don’t let these few negative voices detract you from your SMS marketing game plan. Why would you want to take away from most of your customers something they want because of a few bad apples? Just make sure you always follow the laws and regulations in effect in your trading area and always provide recipients with a way to easily unsubscribe from your distribution list.
Once these people are off your SMS broadcast list, you’ll be left with a captive audience who will embrace your SMS marketing efforts.
Ready To Send Your First SMS Broadcast? Keep it Real
When creating your text message, don’t make the mistake of using a corporate voice like if you were talking to the masses. Picture one customer in your mind, and write the text message for him or her. Use simple language like you would when texting a friend or family member. Keep in mind that each text is 160 characters long, so if your message is longer than 160 characters, even by one letter, you will be charged for a second credit by your SMS provider.
I personally like to use the equivalent of 2 text messages, or under 320 characters. I don’t feel that 160 characters are enough to create curiosity, communicate my call to action, and provide the recipients with the ability to unsubscribe. Just make sure you factor the costs when deciding on the length of the message.
If your SMS broadcast technology allows it, you can use merge-fields or tokens to personalise your text messages, but I haven’t found that it improves conversions for our dealers. What does improve conversions is when you “keep it real” and stay away from the usual boring corporate tone.
Make sure you also use links to landing pages where people can learn more about the opportunity you are communicating. Just make sure the pages are mobile-friendly and designed specifically for being viewed on phones.
SMS Marketing and Technology
When it comes to technology, find one that will allow you to manage your unsubscribe list easily. That’s a critical component. You also want a technology that will allow different members of your team to respond to people engaging in a conversation from a cloud-based backend your whole team can share 24/7. You don’t want all those replies to go to a single device.
You also want a technology that will allow you to adjust the throttle of your broadcast. If you’re sending a few hundred or a few thousand text messages, you want them to trickle out at a speed that will allow your team to manage the requests. Remember, most people will respond within seconds. I personally like to adjust the throttle around 25 text messages every 15 minutes.
You also want a technology that will allow you to adjust your broadcast schedule. You don’t want to be sending text messages to your customers in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning. They won’t forgive you! I find the sweet spot to be between 10 am and 7 pm, and the best response rate to be around lunchtime and right after dinner if you’re using small lists.