If you’ve ever had your oil changed, as a follow-up, you probably received a postcard encouraging you to bring your vehicle back and get a discount on services. Regardless of their size, postcards are effective in retaining customers in the automotive services industry. However, the response rates to a single-channel campaign pale in comparison to campaigns that incorporate email and text messaging into a business’s CRM program. Multichannel vs. single-channel campaigns experience a 37% increase in response.1
I continue to be surprised by the number of companies that have yet to incorporate email and text messaging into their CRM program, particularly when many in the industry are experiencing losses in business or no-growth. Email and mobile communications are no longer “emerging trends” for which you need to start planning. To give you some perspective: the iPhone turned 11 on June 29. If you’re not focusing on how to optimize your existing digital and mobile strategy with a “mobile first” mentality, here are some additional stats that should motivate you:
- 95% of Americans own a cellphone, 77% of them are smartphones2
- One in five uses “smartphone only” internet
- 26% of American adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018
If you’re one of those companies trying to catch-up, here are four ideas to jumpstart the process:
- Just start asking. As part of your customer information validation presentation in the bay, train your team to ask for or validate the customer’s email address and mobile number just as they do the mail address. Incentives often improve capture rates:
- Introduce an employee incentive program for employees who capture valid email addresses and mobile numbers. Provide reporting that your store managers can use to measure how their team is doing. Benchmark how other stores are doing so that you can identify who is leading the charge and who needs to be led
- Offer a one-time discount that can be redeemed INSTANTLY to customers who provide an email address or mobile number. (The discount doesn’t need to be significant. Consider a percentage off/dollars total ticket.)
- Promote the benefits of sharing in the store. Arm your team with materials that will help them encourage customers to share email and/or mobile numbers and set expectations regarding what customers will receive:
- For email, promote the value of receiving service reminders: savings, convenience, etc.
- For mobile numbers, signage and handouts help show customers the benefits of signing up, while ensuring that you’re compliant with SMS standards:
- Ask them to text their mobile number to a short code. (A short code is a 5- or 6-digit number that can send and receive SMS and MMS messages to and from mobile phones.)
- Require double opt-in. (In other words, verify that the customer is agreeing to receive text messages from you.)
- Set expectations regarding what type of messages they’ll receive and how often
- Include messaging on existing customer communications. Already sending emails to your customers but want to begin capturing mobile numbers?
- Add a callout on your emails asking them to sign up for text messages. Mirror the messaging outlined as part of in-store signage and handouts
- Send a quarterly email communication to customers who haven’t provided their mobile numbers
- Mobile first. This goes beyond just having a mobile-friendly site. Assume that every customer’s initial engagement with your brand is on their phone or other mobile device.
The most important part of this effort: always respect a customer’s preferences. Be sure that before you start capturing email addresses or phone numbers, you’re prepared to manage unsubscribes and opt-outs. The customer is always right, especially when they say, “no thanks” to receiving your emails or text messages.
Elizabeth Mertz | Director of Client Services
Liz’s areas of expertise include strategic planning, account development, campaign analysis, campaign management, and franchise marketing. In addition to leading high-volume accounts at Catalyst, she’s held management positions at Vertis and Draft Worldwide.