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Increase Marketing ROI with Nurture Campaigns

In the retail auto industry, we spend a lot of time talking about marketing campaigns: when to send emails, when not to send emails, when to follow-up, how often to follow up. It can get overwhelming quickly. Dealers are already busy; where could they possibly find the time to create all the targeted, personalized campaigns we spend so much time talking about?

Every dealership is different, and there’s no magic wand for creating good marketing. But there are two areas that you should be taking advantage of to make the most of your marketing time and money: nurture campaigns and metrics. Automated nurture campaigns and metrics that matter can make a world of difference in your marketing ROI. 

Do nurture campaigns right 
An effective nurture campaign doesn’t have to be time and labor intensive if it is set up correctly. I’m the first person to urge dealers to automate as much of their correspondence as possible — drip campaigns are your new best friend. Dealership marketing tools like VinSolutions’ Connect Campaigns and TargetPro make that automation simple.

And yes, it’s possible to be highly automated and highly personal at the same time, if you think about your customer categories correctly and set up the right email triggers at the right times.
Start by dividing your customer list into cash buyers, finance buyers and lessors. Then ask yourself general questions about the buying and service cycles for each group, such as:

  • When do people buy cars?

  • When do they get service?

  • When do they re-up their lease?

  • When do they renew a warranty?


These are your email triggers. For example, anyone who purchased at least 30 months ago and still owns the car is likely to be in a good equity position, so you might want to send them buy-back or lower monthly payment offers.

If someone’s not ready to buy, get them involved in a service loyalty program and segment them by average ticket and frequency. Send service reminders to those who haven’t returned in the last three months. At six to nine months, send a service coupon. Twelve months, a free oil change. Give them a reason to come back or spend more.

Once you’ve answered the “Whens,” you can move on to the “Whys,” such as:

  • Why do they buy from me?

  • Why do they buy from someone else?

  • Why do people stop coming to me for service?


These are tough questions because they require you to get out of your own head to answer them. But this is the type of thinking that makes personalized, automated campaigns profitable: when you think like a customer instead of like a dealer. 

Focus on the metrics that matter 
Even with a perfect nurture campaign triggers and personalization, you can’t run successful campaigns if you don’t define what success looks like first. To get the most marketing bang for your buck, make sure you’re tracking the right metrics in your CRM reporting.

For promotions, success is generally based on redemption rates. These are simple to pinpoint because promo codes and coupon barcodes are easily tracked. You can build similar trackability into your emails with UTM codes, which will show you how much web traffic your campaigns generate.

Other objectives require a little more analysis. For example, if your goal is to boost average repair spend or frequency, then you’ll need to look at the average number of times your service customers visit per year and how much they spend. If the goal was a 10 percent increase in May sales over last year, then check that number against your trending increase or decrease in sales for the year.

And remember — you need a decent sample size before you can accurately determine how well each email performed. If you send out 10 emails and one has been read, that doesn’t tell you much. If you send out 1000 emails and only 100 have been read, however, you might have a miscommunication on your hands — but at least now you know what to do about it. 

Build strong nurture campaigns and focus on the right metrics, and your marketing campaigns will be creating customer connections that count in no time. 

Learn how to use loyalty programs to boost customer retention and stay top-of-mind. 

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Brian Schmid

Sr. Marketing Manager, Customer Experience

Brian Schmid is a senior marketing manager for VinSolutions and Dealertrack. In his role, Brian manages customer experience and marketing automation. Before joining Cox Automotive in 2012, Brian held several roles with lighting manufacturer EiKO Global, LLC, where he specialized in communication strategy, sales enablement and customer data management. Brian has a bachelor's degree in strategic communications and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from the University of Kansas.

Connect with Brian Schmid on Linkedin or shoot them a note.

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