A chat with Bryan Krieger, Chief Technology Officer
It’s a big number eh? That’s how many emails 3 Birds sent out the week of Black Friday 2013, the highest day of email sends ever, by volume, in company history. Email marketers pay attention to numbers like these, and with good reason. Email deliverability rates are an often-overlooked but highly important part of any email marketer’s toolkit. High deliverability rates indicate a clean list, one that was built organically over time from opt-in or point-of-purchase email gathering methods. Too many bounces overall from the same sender or repeated sending to email addresses that soft bounce look "phishy" to internet spam filters, sending your perfectly-crafted email straight to spam folders. It’s a downhill slope from there as that sender is more likely to get flagged as suspicious in the future. While the factors that go into determining whether or not an email will reach the inbox are as complicated as search algorithms, there are a few principles of list hygiene to follow in order to avoid the most common pitfalls.
Your data is your data is your data!
Let's start with the obvious: buying lists is always a bad idea. Exceptionally large lists are a red flag to begin with and we tend to see high bounce and complaint rates on lists like these. Organically growing your list over time using your own customer data and opt-in subscription methods will yield optimal deliverability and engagement rates and minimize complaints. Going beyond the numbers themselves, the reporting functionalities of the Wire platform make it easy to see who's interacting with your newsletters on a regular basis, what the most popular items are from your most recent sends and make it easy for you to export and use that data for your sales team or additional follow-up sends.
Today's data works better than yesterday's data.
Regularly updating your dealership's personal send list is a great way to keep bounce and complaint rates low and engagement rates high. The customer who visited your showroom or service bay 7 days ago is much more likely to appreciate and interact with a digital campaign or newsletter than one who visited 9 months ago and hasn't heard from your dealership since.
Check your lists for bad email addresses before sending
These are easy to catch: emails like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, placeholders used when customers don't want to part with their email address but which can ultimately skew your numbers. 3 Birds cleans lists with each and every send through the system by filtering out the email addresses that have bounced on previous sends and suppressing those addresses automatically on future sends. Often blatantly bad email addresses are filtered out even before the send on list upload to further boost deliverability and guard against bounced emails as much as possible before sending.
By following these best practices surrounding list hygiene and educating our clients around these issues we are able to boost email deliverability rates to between 98% and 99% on established senders. After all, emails that don't get into the inbox can't be opened and acted on. Like they say, half the battle is showing up--for emails, that means that half the battle is getting into the inbox!
Continue the conversation @BryanKrieger or email@example.com.
Because you can't buy trust.
The consumer relationship with their dealership and/or dealership service provider is like any other relationship, really: it takes transparency and a level of trust and hard work in order to succeed. “Marketing” often has a negative connotation, as if marketers are responsible for prying hard-earned dollars from the hand of consumers or pushing unnecessary products and services. The truth is that half the time consumers want to spend their money—it’s fun! The other half of the time consumers need to spend their money. Never is this more true than when it comes to the automotive retail and service space. Not only do your customers need a vehicle, they need to get that vehicle serviced on a regular basis. What can you do to ensure that they service with your dealership?
Why is consistency important? Just as claiming and optimizing listings on multiple review sites boosts SEO, using a consistent voice whenever interacting with the customer through a digital channel (and matching that same voice when the customer visits the dealership) boosts virtual “SEO” in the consumer’s mind. Consumers value consistency for the same reason that search engines do: consistency indicates authenticity and authority. Making sure the facts are correct, especially the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP), are correct and consistent across review sites and social media sites are key for this. But how do you ensure consistency when the pieces are less concrete, like your dealership’s online voice?
3 Birds’ customers enjoy a plug-and-play way to achieve consistency across communication channels with our Digital CMO Marketing Packages, an all-in-one marketing solution that’s kind of like having a CMO for every season at your dealership. One of our tips that is the easiest to implement and always has a really rewarding level of return is also pretty simple. Don’t you love it when that happens? Here’s how it works: You send a campaign with Vehicles A, B, and C to a list of 5,000 recipients. 3 days later, 250 people have clicked on the “View Inventory” for Vehicle A, 118 for Vehicle B, and 336 for Vehicle C. Want more great engagement rates and data? Push prospects farther down the sales funnel to purchase by suppressing recently sold customers and sending the rest a killer deal for the very vehicle you already know they’re interested in! We’ve seen open rates of up to 39% using this method of targeted follow-up.
Whichever method you use in your dealership, keeping these principles in mind can help build consumer loyalty and trust and keep your customers coming back long after the Black Friday and End of the Year specials are over. Contact us to keep the conversation going and for more great tips like these.
Or: How will all these numbers help you earn and save more?
Using data to gauge your customers’ interest
Each dealer’s customer base is unique. Using the newsletter as a testing ground for different content gives you the opportunity to see, in a quantitative way, what topics customers are drawn to. Do you have an enthusiast following for the brand you represent? Are your customers bargain hunters? Which models are they drawn to overall? Using content that connects with each of these questions, you can use engagement data (clicks/opens/etc.) to determine interest.
Identifying follow-up opportunities
Once you have the interest question nailed down, it’s time to look at the numbers to identify where your follow-up time and money can best be spent. For instance: you had an article about the new 2014 Honda Accord and 120 people clicked on it. That's some pretty powerful business intelligence that you can use in subsequent conversations over email or in person to tailor your subject line, messaging, and incentives to capitalize on that interest. The result? Exceptional email open rates, conversion opportunities, and motivated customers eager to learn more quickly.
Create a user story/profile
Another powerful use for data comes in creating “user stories”—profiles of typical customer activity that can help you maximize your messaging on a broader basis. With the data available in the Wire, you can piece together a puzzle of who customers are and where they are in their customer lifecycle.
If your latest newsletter has a review about the Ford Escape and an article about the Escape’s new technology, and the same customer engaged with both, it’s safe to say they’re interested in an Escape. Now, imagine that same customer clicked on the “New Inventory” or “Value Your Trade” link. They’re beyond interested. They’re raising their hand.
Analyzing timelines can help guide your content strategy in future newsletters—and your dedicated account strategist at 3 Birds is here to help you do just that.
Compare and contrast customer activity
Sending newsletters and campaigns gives you two different looks at your customers. Often you’ll get two completely different groups engaging with the content. Some customers will have just bought a car, so they’ll connect more with the softer marketing piece of the newsletter or service-related information. If a customer is looking for a deal on service or a new ride, on the other hand, the campaigns may gain more traction. By identifying and comparing these customers, you can take your “user stories” to the next level to be able to see what research is being done (auto reviews, inventory shopping, trade valuation) and what types of offers are appealing (lease vs. purchase, low APR vs. cash off or $0 down, etc.). Gather all this information, predict the questions the customer would have following their interactions, and be the first to provide them with the knowledge and the deal they’re looking for and you’ve got yourself a customer.
Delving into a rich pool of data and applying it to your current strategies is fun! (We might be a bit biased.) Even if data analysis doesn't lie squarely in your wheelhouse, your account strategist is also available to help you get the most out of the product. It’s that level of dedication that keeps delivering value for your dealership month after month—and all it takes is one click to start the conversation today.
3 Birds does holiday decorating right with our annual desk decorating contest
Elf is an office favorite, apparently!
We're loving the holiday cheer in the office these days. Check back in after the holidays for the winners of our desk-decorating contest.
We love our customers
We love our customers
We love our customers
A word from our friends at Tom's Ford
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Stat of the month
Stat of the month
Stat of the month
Try these delicious cookies from the 3 Birds Holiday Cookie Exchange for your next holiday party!
One of our favorite selections from last year's exchange were these fragrant cookies with a pronounced eggnog flavor. Try them for your next party or cookie exchange.
½ cup Butter
½ cup Granulated Sugar
½ cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Large Egg
⅔ cup Eggnog (I recommend Southern Comfort non-alcoholic...best flavor and texture)
½ tsp Rum FLAVORING (real rum won’t let them set properly)
2 cups All-purpose flour
½ tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
¼ tsp Salt
¾ cup Confectioners Sugar
5 tsp Eggnog
1 Tbsp Butter
⅛ tsp Ground Nutmeg
Candy sprinkles for decorating
Cream butter and both sugars in large bowl. Add egg. Beat Well.
Add eggnog and flavoring. Beat until smooth.
Combine next four ingredients in medium bowl. Add to eggnog mixture in two additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains.
Drop about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets, using 1 tbsp. for each cookie.
Bake in 350 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until edges are just golden. Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
EGGNOG ICING: Beat first 4 ingredients in small bowl, adding more sugar or eggnog if necessary until barely pourable consistency. Makes about 1/3 cup icing. Spoon into paper cone or into small re-sealable freezer baggie with tiny piece snipped off corner. Drizzle in decorative pattern over each cookie. Decorate with sprinkles.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Enjoy these family-friendly events in the Big Easy
Miracle on Fulton Street
Due to its proximity to the Mississippi River, New Orleans is known for its warm, humid temperature. Locals still get the opportunity to enjoy snow, however, thanks to the Miracle on Fulton Street. Each year the pedestrian mall becomes a winter wonderland complete with Santa, reindeer, an extra-large Café Du Monde gingerbread home, a 30-foot tall Christmas tree and hourly snowfalls. Miracle on Fulton takes place from November 26 through January 6. Click here to learn more.
Christmas in the District
Mardi Gras may be New Orleans’ most famous event, but there are a variety of other exciting annual events, such as Christmas in the District. From November 30 to January 5, families can celebrate the season in New Orleans historic Warehouse District along with Santa, brilliant light displays, carolers live entertainment and more. Visit http://christmasinthedistrict.com for more information.
Holiday Home Tours
New Orleans is home to some of the country’s most impressive architecture. Fortunately, this holiday season, your family can tour a variety of extraordinary homes ornamented with the finest holiday garnish. The Preservation Resource Center tours homes in the Garden District on December 14 and 15, while the Patio Planters explore French Quarter homes on December 22. On December 27 and 28, the Friends of the Cabildo will also visit five historic New Orleans homes decked out in Christmas décor.
The Fleur de Lis Drop
Welcome the New Year with a breathtaking fireworks display in the French Quarter. The city’s famous Fleur de Lis drops as soon as the clock strikes midnight, followed by a series of fireworks over the Mississippi River, live jazz and various celebrations to ring in 2014. Visit http://www.crescentcitycountdown.com/ to discover how to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang.
Discovering New Orleans for the first time is a magical experience, and our team at 3 Birds Marketing can't wait to discover all that the city has to offer during the 2014 National Automobile Dealers Association Convention from January 24 through January 27. In the interim, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a New Year filled with happiness!