by CDK Global | 10/29/2018

Top SMS communication tips for automotive dealerships

When considering available online marketing channels, there’s plenty to choose from. Various social media, paid advertising, email and SMS are considered the most popular online channels for communicating with a wide audience.  

On the other hand, the number of messages customers we  receive can be overwhelming. The challenge for an automotive dealership is to make sure communications go to the right person, at the right time and with the right content.

There’s no doubt that in 2018, communications via mobile devices are one of the most popular  ways to get in front of your customers. Middle East has one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the World, so it makes sense that the best place to reach your customers is through their mobile. Consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones according to an AdWeek survey, which makes sending a message directly to a customer’s mobile device very attractive.

However, based on various surveys not many people like banner ads in mobiles as every year, mobile ad blocking keeps increasing as well. So how to tap into the opportunity of mobile marketing for your dealership? The solution has been there since the birth of GSM mobile phones

1. SMS communications are effective

Appointment reminders via SMS can reduce missed appointments by 26% (MobileMarketingWatch). SMS is timely as well, when 95% of SMS messages are being opened within 3 minutes of being received.

2. SMS has high response rates

SMS response rates are 8 times higher than email (RetailDive). Also, in 2018 SMS holds an open rate of 98% (HuffingtonPost). What other  channel of communication would give you similar reach?

3. SMS is easy to create and send

SMS length is in multiples of 160 characters (a little less in Arabic). You have 11 characters reserved for your business sender ID, that identifies your business to receivers. If your message is longer, you can always chain multiple SMS messages to display longer messages. Simple, but effective!

4. SMS is low cost

Given that 98% of message are read by recipients, when calculating your marketing ROI, there are few options as economical. So what could you do with your dealership to close more sales, improve customer experience and fill in the service schedules, for example?

Collect data. Without contact details a person can’t be contacted, correct? With a proper CRM you can collect the customer data, and the customer’s consent to use that data for the purposes of marketing, effectively at every customer touch point, be it a showroom or service department. CRM also gives a report of your database health, which allows you to maintain and improve the database over time.

Use the data. Having extensive customer data, with the consent to use it, allows you to create very specific segments and target customers with relevant and timely content. For example, if you send a test drive invitation to customers having 3 months left in their current vehicle financing, it is more likely to result in more test drive requests compared to any other random message. Autoline Drive allows you to save these segments for any future use; effective and simple!

Identify yourself. SMS allows creating a 11 character sender ID, that shows as a sender for the recipient. This can be your business name or brand. Messages from trusted senders get responded at much higher rate.

Time it right. We already mentioned how SMS reminder reduces missed appointments, so it would make sense to send a reminder about upcoming service booking 3 days and 1 day earlier. Remember to include your location and service advisor’s name. Sending one reminder 3-7 days earlier gives the customer an opportunity to reschedule and you a better chance to re-fill the calendar slot. For any contact and touch point with a customer, schedule a timely follow up, for example:  

  • After visiting the showroom: “Dear Ali, thank you for visiting our showroom. If you have further queries, please call 04-123 4567 and ask for Adham.”
  • After filling the enquiry from the website or Facebook: “Thank you for your interest towards our latest Ford. Click here for more information.”
  • After completing the test drive: “Dear Mohammed, thank you for testing our latest Ford. Click here for more details or call 04-1234567”

It would be time consuming and practically impossible to manually send these kind of personalized messages, the good news is that they can be automated. With content placeholders in the messages, messages can also be personalized. Also, automated messages are easy to create and the CRM takes care of all the predefined conditions to send the messages at the right time subject to the requisite customer consent, with the right content and to the right recipient.

With Autoline Drive, any automated marketing communication  can be a combination of SMS, email, call center interaction or sales person action allowing a highly customized and personalized customer experience for any dealership.

Autoline and Autoline Drive now enables SMS messages across GCC countries. Contact us to learn more how to activate SMS for your dealerships as well!