Direct Mail Marketing for Auto Dealers – Does It Work?

Over the past decade, internet marketing and advertising have overtaken direct marketing as many business’ primary forms of advertising. According to eMarketer, online advertising spending has grown more than 13% each year since 2003, rising from a $7.3 billion industry in 2003 to a projected $36.5 billion industry in 2011. Automotive dealerships and retailers, which tend to rely on more traditional forms of marketing and advertising, have begun to shift their advertising dollars into the digital realm as well.

But are internet marketing strategies really more effective than traditional marketing, such as direct mail, for auto dealers? To be sure, online marketing strategies such as PPC advertising, social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are becoming more popular, but is this due to simple popularity trends or is it because traditional advertising simply doesn’t work anymore? After all, just because consumers spend more time online today doesn’t mean they don’t continue to receive snail mail or watch television.

While there are no clear answers, recent statistics and direct mail marketing response rates in the automotive retail industry shed some light. According to the Direct Marketing Association, in 2007 auto retailers averaged a $33.81 ROI for every dollar spent on direct marketing – a healthy margin. A 2010 study by the DMA showed that various types of snail mail averaged the lowest overall cost per lead – lower costs than those reported for digital advertising. Direct mail catalogs showed the lowest overall cost per lead or order, at $47.61, followed closely by direct mail inserts at $47.69 and mailed postcards at $75.32. The same study showed that direct mail letter-sized envelopes had a response rate of 1.38% when sent to prospect lists, a figure more than doubled for house mailing lists.

The bottom line: while it’s not wise to rely on direct marketing strategies alone, direct mail marketing clearly continues to be a viable, cost-effective strategy for gathering new business to auto dealerships and retailers. Of course, there are many variables that go in to a direct mail marketing campaign that make it more – or less – effective!

Here are a few tips for automotive dealers and retailers looking to make the most out of their direct mail marketing campaigns:

Make the offer more tantalizing and urgent. Studies have shown that consumers respond more to offers that contain a coupon or limited time offer. By narrowing the offer’s window to a specific time frame and making the deal juicier, consumers are more likely to act, rather than procrastinate.

Add key mailers to direct mail pieces. Key mailers, combined with “lucky key” contests, are a proven way to drive more customers to your dealership location. After all, who can resist the opportunity to win a new car? Once on your location, your showfloor deals and sales staff can do the rest.

Make it easier for customers to respond to the offer. Direct mail pieces should make it crystal clear exactly WHAT they want consumers to do, and how they can go about doing it. Make calls to action eye-catching and clear, including easy-to-follow instructions such as a website landing page URL, a toll free phone number or both.

Use newspaper inserts. Studies show that direct mail inserts offer the second lowest cost per lead, and they can be a great opportunity to get new customers onto your show floor. Try offering a “number match” offer on insert pieces which require consumers to visit your dealership location in order to see if their scratch-off numbers are a winning match.

Chiropractic Direct Mail – Using “Dinner Seminars” to Find New Patients

Targeted marketing has become extremely popular in recent years because it is highly efficient in attracting potential patients from a specific or ‘targeted’ group of people. Instead of reaching out in the media on a national or regional level, targeted marketing either focuses on groups of people within a larger group or individuals with a group.

Direct mail is one of the most effective forms of this type of marketing scheme and it is being used successfully throughout the world to grow businesses up quickly. But direct mailings are not only utilized by businesses. In this competitive world we live in even doctors and clinics need to vie for patients as well. The form of targeted marketing that a doctor would use to find new patients is known as ‘batch targeting’ and this is where direct mail comes to the forefront.

Various groups of individuals are identified in relation to a doctor’s specialty and a mailing goes out based on the criterion set forth. Many doctors are using workshops or seminars to attract new patients and currently “Dinner Seminars” are a hot item. Chiropractic offices can benefit from this type of marketing because they can utilize the banquet room where the dinner is being held to put on a presentation. Various forms of multi-media presentations are set up and the doctor has a captive ‘audience.’

Everyone likes to get something for nothing. While dinner seminars may be expensive, they are not nearly as costly as wasting advertising dollars by using ineffective mediums to get the message out. A seminar can be by invitation only and those ‘invitations’ can be direct mailed to a targeted group of individuals. Often times the banquet manager can be of assistance in identifying target groups of prospective patients. That is one of the tools of their trade.

Once the meeting location has been booked and a targeted group of individuals has been identified, the next step is to design the practice growth flyer [out] or invitation. This is where the assistance of an experienced and reputable printer comes into play. A good printing company will know what you are looking for and they have the experience to walk you through the process of setting up the flyer. They will know what kind of copy to use that will grab the attention of potential chiropractic patients.

When investing in a dinner seminar, it is important to make sure the invitations are accepted. There will be no seminar without attendees. Again, an experienced printing company knows how to set up the flyer so that the invitation becomes almost irresistible. The printer sets up the theme in such a way as to make the invitation as enticing as possible. People who get the invitation in the mail will want to be there, if for no other reason than to get a free meal and a little socializing.

Once the printer has done his job it is up to the Chiropractor to ‘sell’ his practice at the seminar. Effective direct mail marketing can bring the potential patients in but it is up to the Chiropractic staff to convert diners into patients.

The Hard Truth About Direct Response Copywriting

Direct response copywriters tend to talk about direct response copywriting as though it’s magic or a miracle… like it could turn an otherwise uninterested person into a fiend just jonesin’ for your product or service.

Not true.

The copy isn’t the only factor here. Nor is it even the most important factor.

Here are some factors that are just as important as, if not more important than, the copy:

1) The List. Who are you sending that email or letter to? Who are these people? Have they bought a similar product before? A good list is probably the most important factor of all. Even mediocre copy will sell product to a relevant list. Superior copy sent to a superior list will certainly produce the best results, but a stellar list will trump stellar copy, all else being equal.

2) Passion. What’s the passion level for what you’re offering? Direct response copywriting works best on high-passion products and services, especially ones involving instant gratification. Can the product make people thin? Or relieve an ailment? Or inform them of something vital to their well-being? Or offer them an amazing business opportunity or way to make money? These are the kinds of passionate subjects that direct response copywriting works best with.

3) Frequency. It often takes multiple exposures to a new product or service to make an impact. Not to say that direct response copywriting can’t sell on the first go; it certainly can (and has)… but generally, frequency trumps reach. Assuming a good list, you want to increase the frequency as far as you can economically. Seth Godin compares marketing to planting seeds. Better to water 100 seeds five times than to water 500 seeds once. Wise advice.

4) The Mechanics. Consider something like having a call-to-action (CTA) “above the fold” (what’s first visible on a website or in an email… above the point where the audience would scroll). Having a powerful CTA is a big part of direct response copywriting in the first place–but make sure there’s one above the fold (for lead generation, at least). Or else a lot of your audience is going to miss it.

5) The Economics. Maybe a particular medium would be a great way to reach your audience… but that medium might be so expensive that it would put you out of business. Perhaps a particular audience would be great to sell to, but you can’t reach them in an economically viable way. The economics of your situation is going to dictate a lot of how you go about it.

Now when you have these factors already, the copy is the variable that will get you even better results. And it takes a good direct response copywriter to do it right and provide the edge you need.