The Hard Facts & Financial Impact Report: Auto Dealership Loyalty Programs & the Effects They Have on Profitability
Many organizations have tried to measure automotive loyalty but have lacked real transactional data. JD Power and Associates recently published its yearly findings on automotive brand loyalty. However, unlike the Power study, the focus of this whitepaper is at the individual dealership level and relates to those dealers who offer a non-OEM or independent loyalty program. Key elements that were analyzed in addition to vehicle repurchase intent include service-revenue generation, service-visitation frequency and marketing responsiveness.
Professionals and groups in the auto industry have traditionally been slow adopters of customer loyalty and reward programs. Skepticism about ROI and long-term value has been prevalent, and hard facts have been difficult to substantiate due to a lack of documented program membership and transactional data.
As with most any situation, we doubt claims lacking concrete proof. Sometimes our doubt is right on the money — and frequently it proves quite costly.
It is this skepticism, however, that proves costly when compared to the financial gains being experienced by dealerships that do participate and enroll customers into these types of retention-based programs.
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Email and snail mail promotions are great methods for creating customer loyalty. However, you need to make sure that the information customers include during the sign-up process is accurately addressed in the marketing. There’s no greater feeling than receiving an unexpected coupon or discount on something you want to purchase. It’s a completely different story when the promotion is for something random that doesn’t remotely pique your interest.
Here’s an example of a mail promotion gone wrong: A few weeks ago, I received a pamphlet ad from a loyalty program I belong to at major drug store; the advertisement was primarily for cosmetics and other feminine products that I will never have a use for and it completely alienated me from their program.
For auto dealerships, are you doing this in your service department? For instance, if a customer has just purchased a brand new vehicle and you send them a coupon for a 30,000 or 60,000 mile maintenance service, the chances of that coupon being redeemed are slim to none. Not only are you wasting postage and/or time, but you may be making the customer wonder, “Why did they send this to me?” That customer would probably better appreciate a 10% discount on accessories to personalize their new vehicle.
When creating your marketing campaigns, do you check to make sure customers are receiving a relevant promotion?
What promotions have you created recently that have resulted in high redemption rates and loyal customers?
There is no denying the influence of social media on the way that we as human beings communicate on a daily basis. The impact of the digital age will be felt even more in the future if things continue on the same path that it is currently. Not only have we been put in contact with each other like we have never been before, businesses are making the most of social media networks as well. Since the majority of people in the country are constantly on social media sites at all hours of the day, companies have realized that they have a whole new market to reach. But how do they do it without shameless promotion? With social media sites like Facebook, companies from every industry are gaining from a new-found connection with their customers. Since people are constantly updating their activity streams and current states of being, businesses are also able to update their clients and loyal customers with special discounts, offers and marketing endeavors.
A really great thing about being able to do this is the fact that they can connect with their customers in a more timely manner. People are connected through sites like FourSquare, Twitter and Facebook and enjoy the intimate bond that can be formed directly with owners and managers of businesses. Social media networks open the doors to new types of customer experiences by connecting you with them when they are a few feet away from your stores. Many companies have interactive collaborations with social networks in order to bring customers special discounts and notifications of new opportunities at any given moment. Many social media networks are accessible by such devices as the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, which give companies a 24-hour window for advertising to the countless masses.
Sites like Facebook allow artists, like Alicia Keys, to reward the loyalty of their customers and fans by allowing them to listen to their new albums before anyone could even buy it. Not only does this provide an exciting interactive experience for the fans, but it allows for new ways of self promotion in the music industry. FourSquare is the first choice in loyalty reward programs for many. They send out information to smart phones anywhere that people find themselves shopping. This means not only that the company sending the notification will have an increase in sales, but the specific location that customer is pointed towards will directly profit from this type of marketing. For companies that offer many common products to the masses, this means that they are able to maximize the exposure to their target audience like never before. For many customers, this type of marketing brings a new and innovative way to shop and be entertained in the modern age.
Social media is changing customer loyalty programs also by identifying problems through monitoring what people are saying about their brands. They can join the conversation to show that they are listening, to clear up miscommunications or to add clarifications. As an example, Rackspace Cloud Sites have had problems where Robert Scoble acted as a channel of information to their customers on what is happening in real time. Instead of having to wait for quarterly reports to see where a company shines or is in need, they are now able to have instant response as to the impact of that particular promotional project or product. The amount of time and money wasted before is astronomical, and in retrospect, was a very unnecessary expenditure.
Having the ability to track their customers’ behaviors and patterns in buying gives companies priceless information about ways to further market a particular angle. Sites like Zappos have been building more personal relationships with their customers by allowing their employees and executives to communicate directly with the public and marketplace.
If this is a sign of things to come, we have a lot to look forward to here soon.
Source: Customer Loyalty Institute 2012, customerloyalty.org.
How has the development of social media impacted your business? Your marketing efforts?
What type of developments to you project on the social media marketing front in the next 5 years? 10 years?