Chief Product & Strategy Officer, Affinitiv
November 12, 2018
As dealers face mounting pressure to exceed sales and service quotas for the year, the ability to find new customers is key to reaching goals. But conquesting is never easy, primarily because you have to rely on third-party data instead of the first-party customer data in your DMS.
Partnering with the right marketing vendor is the first step. First, your vendor should ask what your dealership’s particular challenge is, then find opportunities in the market that can help solve that challenge. If your vendor uses a cookie cutter approach in their conquest campaigns, consider it a red flag.
Let’s look at an example. You are a Honda or Toyota dealer, and you want to sell more Accords or Camrys. That’s your challenge.
What are your opportunities? One pretty large opportunity was created earlier this year by Ford. Back in April, Ford announced that by 2020, it would discontinue production of most of its sedans, including the Fusion, Taurus and Focus.
Currently there are millions of Ford sedan owners. If they’re sedan loyalists, the next time they’re in the market for a car they will be forced to switch brands. If your challenge is to sell Accords and Camrys, this is a golden opportunity.
But how do you find and convince these Ford owners to purchase from you? Let’s examine the three elements of a successful conquest campaign: the right data, the right channel strategy and creative.
The Right Data
Many companies sell data. The difficult part is knowing which data to buy. With 250 million consumers and 175+ targeting options for each consumer, what’s worth paying for? Demographics on individuals range from gender, age and household income to lifestyle and business or personal affiliations. All these choices can seem overwhelming.
Depending on your particular challenge and opportunity, the data set for each campaign might be different. In the above referenced example, if your goal is to conquest Ford Fusion owners, I would focus on three categories: life events, in-market shoppers and lease expirations.
Life events include marriages, graduations, babies, buying a house, divorces, etc. When my wife and I had our first child, we both drove small sedans. Within a few months, we were shopping for a SUV.
Lease expirations are an obvious target as well. Currently there are close to four million leases getting close to expiration. That’s not a high number, but these are surefire prospects who will be in the market soon so they’re worth pursuing.
Other potential in-market shoppers can be identified from a combination of sources including demographic information, service history, purchase history, insurance data, extended warranty data, financial data, etc. Currently there are nearly 24 million U.S. consumers with profiles that fit the model for in-market vehicle shoppers.
As a dealer, you want to make sure you stay in front of all in-market consumers in your primary market area (PMA) through the buying process. In the two or three months prior to purchase, most consumers are considering four or five brands. Within 30 days of purchase, the average shopper narrows that down to two brands.
Once you know who you’re going to target and you’ve got the right data, it’s time to come up with a channel strategy. Traditionally, most dealers have relied on direct mail and email for conquest campaigns. Direct mail is fine, but it can be expensive.
When measuring marketing ROI, it’s generally accepted that a $300 cost-per-sale is reasonable. Direct mail can easily drive your CPS above that amount. It’s much more cost effective to use a multi-channel strategy that includes email, display ads and social media; specifically, Facebook and Instagram.
These channels can be effectively used for both sales and service conquest campaigns, allowing you to not only broaden your reach but to increase the frequency of your messaging without breaking the bank.
The creative aspect of conquest campaigns is often under-appreciated. A stunning visual image combined with the right offer can absolutely make a difference as to whether a consumer decides to click, or not.
As a dealer, it’s important to emphasize what you can offer that differentiates your store from the competition. Whether it’s free loaner cars, experienced staff or a streamlined process, give local customers a reason to buy or service with you.
Additionally, your marketing partner must be able to follow OEM brand guidelines, so your dealership conveys a consistent and professional brand image. This helps to create recognition and build trust with consumers.
I am also a fan of the “less is more” approach. In today’s world you have a very limited time to get your message across. Don’t cram multiple messages into a single ad and don’t use a lot of adjectives. The same rule applies to images. Keep photos and messages simple and clean.
Even though sales are flattening, there are still plenty of consumers shopping for new vehicles. Conquest campaigns are a great way to elevate your brand and attract new local customers. The secret to success lies in your data, channel strategy and creative.