Make your dealership’s name one that customers trust
We know you're probably not asking "why" building customer loyalty is important. A current customer will close later in the sales funnel than a new buyer, they advocate for your brand to their friends, family and colleagues in person and to other consumers online, and ROI is often higher since it takes less marketing dollars to lead to conversion. The question here is definitely not "why" but "how."
Building customer loyalty is a vital part of your dealership's long-, mid-, and short-term strategy. Your dealership may already be seeing results based on brand loyalty to the brand you sell (as distinguished from your dealership brand), the result being that your dealership's customer experience often becomes the deciding factor for the consumer. 49% of customers will return to the same OEM when purchasing their next vehicle while only 34% of customers will return to the same dealership. (Miller, Smith, June 2013) This gap is where your dealership's opportunity lies: happy customers who love their vehicles and are just waiting for the right dealership experience to deliver their next dream ride. Forbes writer Mark Sunshine describes the customer experience in “7 Simple Techniques to Build Customer Loyalty,”: “[I had to] bring my two cars to two different car dealerships for service on successive Saturday mornings. The dealers gave me a first class education in how to build and destroy brand loyalty. How can you take control of your dealership's customer-facing experience and start turning your customers into loyal buyers and advocates? There are three easy ways to get started:
- Make yourself visible to customers and stay top-of-mind with them through repeated communication. Provide value with no strings attached throughout the vehicle lifecycle. Communicate with your customers as you would any other business associate or friend: no one wants to talk to the friend who only calls when they want something, so don't wait until it's time to trade in to drop your customers a virtual line.
- Be receptive to your customers’ needs in your dealership practices. Take off your dealer hat and put on your customer hat every once in awhile!
- If you don't ask, you don't get: Encourage customers to contributeto the collective wisdom and share their experiences with your dealership with other consumers by writing a review on a leading consumer or automotive review site.
Is your dealership using effective communication to build relationships with customers after the sale, or are you only reaching out to your lists when it’s time for service or to attract trade-ins? Don’t get us wrong—with proper targeting, campaigns of the latter type can have very positive results. However, relying solely on these types of messages means that customers may go a long time without seeing your dealership’s name.
The House newsletter from 3 Birds Marketing is a true digital solution, solving the problem of how to stay top-of-mind for your customers on a regular basis. The best part about the solution is that you can tailor it to give your dealership a truly individual feel—one of the most important steps to building your brand.
You can use the newsletter to share original and engaging content about dealership events and sponsorships, automotive reviews and previews of upcoming releases, general automotive service articles, and more. The newsletter can also be used to share specials and coupons, but this is secondary to the main goal: situating your dealership as an authority in your customers’ minds, making you the first place they turn when it’s time for service or a new vehicle purchase.
Be Open and Available to Your Customers
In the Forbes article mentioned above, Sunshine describes how the owner at one dealership makes himself “instantly available to customers for emergencies. Strategically placed throughout the dealership are ‘Red Phones’ that instantly connect aggrieved and upset customers” with the one person who can do the most to appease them.
Eliminating inconvenience and stress for your customers in both sales and service removes one of the barriers to customer loyalty. One 3 Birds client that is part of a large automotive group offers “24-hour service,” where customers can drop their vehicle off for service after regular hours and pick it up the next morning. Working around the customer's scheduled rather than traditional business operating hours speaks volumes about the level of commitment to the customer experience.
Current customers can be powerful advocates when it comes to attracting new customers. 92 percent of consumers worldwide say they trust “earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising” (Nielsen). We have helped several dealerships capitalize on this form of advertising through successful referral campaigns which encourage customers to recommend the dealership to others.
While these campaigns can lead to a number of new sales (and possible new loyal customers), they also help to build relationships with your current customers. When it’s time for those customers to trade in their vehicle, your dealership could be at the top of their list.
Expand your Customer Loyalty with 3 Birds
House is just the beginning when it comes to 3 Birds Marketing solutions for strengthening your customer relationships. Contact us for a demo of our various services, and learn just how easy it is to make building customer loyalty a part of your digital marketing strategy.
Sunshine, Mark. (2011) “7 Simple Techniques to Build Customer Loyalty.” Forbes.com.
Nielsen. (2012) “Consumer Trust In Online, Social and Mobile Advertising Grows.” Nielsen.com.
Miller, Lonnie. Smith, Brad. (2013) "Leveraging Measurable Behaviors to Enhance Dealer Loyalty." Polk.com