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automotive customer retention

Getting Personal With Your Automotive Customer Retention Strategy

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It’s a statistic that gets repeated frequently because it’s important and it’s true: it can cost five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to simply retain a current one. If this is the case, then automotive customer retention can save dealerships a great deal of money — not to mention the time not spent on chasing new customers. Providing excellent customer service is one way to keep customers coming back through your doors. Another way? Getting smart with your inbound marketing strategy to minimize customer churn.

 

What is Inbound Marketing?

No one likes getting sales calls out of the blue or being approached by a pushy salesperson in any form, whether it’s via an irrelevant email or on a car lot. People like feeling as though they’re in control of the buying experience, and this starts from the moment they begin educating themselves about a product they’re thinking of purchasing.

This is the beauty of inbound marketing. Rather than hitting customers over the head with a sales pitch, it provides already-interested customers with information about a product they’re considering. When it comes to automotive customer retention, inbound marketing is a sort of advertising jujitsu that gently coaxes customers back to your dealership without them even realizing they’ve been sold to.

 

Step 1: Determine Who Your Customers Are

Whenever your dealership earns a new customer, you’ll input their data into the dealership’s computer system. To build your automotive customer retention system, however, you’ll need to record more than just their name and contact information. Make note of how many kids they have and the kinds of hobbies they enjoy. Are they a budget buyer or someone who likes to splurge? Do they like to accessorize their vehicles? What kind of driving will they do — short zips around the city or long trips across the country?

 

Step 2: Create Unique Profiles

All of the information you’ve gathered in Step 1 is going to help you in Step 2 as you create unique profiles for different kinds of buyers. These are called customer demographics and they help you understand who your customer is before marketing to them. One group of customers may be Busy Parents, while another may be Childless Professionals with a Taste for Luxury. Some may opt for Eco-Friendly Driving, while others lean towards Vehicles That Accommodate Rugged Hobbies.

 

Step 3: Send Targeted Messages to Maximize Automotive Customer Retention

Why did you just spend time tossing customers into various demographic buckets? Because the final step in your inbound marketing effort will be to educate them about the latest products in which they might display an interest. If you send an email about your newest minivan to everyone on your customer list, the Childless Professionals with a Taste for Luxury are going to delete the message and likely flag future ones for the spam folder.

Send out an announcement about your newest luxury coupe to those same professionals, however (and just as their current vehicle is coming off of lease!), and their interest may be piqued. “I should drop in and check that out this weekend,” they’ll think. Best of all? There’s no pressure; they’ll feel as though the idea was theirs, rather than feeling like the target of a sales pitch.

This kind of inbound marketing strategy can work no matter what way a customer prefers to receive communication; you can send emails or brochures by snail mail. You might even bring back the human touch and reach out with a warm phone call inviting them to stop in whenever their schedule allows. Some dealerships tailor paid social media ads directed at a specific audience segment. That’s the magic of inbound marketing as an automotive customer retention strategy: it’s infinitely customizable for both your dealership and your customer base.

 

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About the Author

Richard Knight

Rick Knight is an Automotive Customer Retention Executive who founded Certified Maintenance® Programs in 1996. Rick has been successful in building custom retention strategies for thousands of auto dealers to better than double CP/RO counts in the first 12 months of ownership, drive back 34+% of lost opportunity customers and help auto dealers Sell The Next Vehicle™. 

Rick Knight on LinkedIn   Rick Knight on Twitter