How to Optimize Your Automotive Direct Mail Strategy
By Paul Bobnak | January 30, 2018
Automotive direct mail drives customers to showrooms, car lots, service centers, and websites in ways that other channels simply can’t match.
As the economic recovery picks up speed, right now is a great time to be in the mail with offers to prospects and customers. Here’s why:
- Consumers are buying again – and demand for new vehicles (and trade-ins) is outpacing supply
- People are traveling more and going further than in 2020
- With more vehicles back on the road, maintenance services that were deferred or unneeded are no longer taking a back seat
Here’s just one example of an opportunity that’s available:
According to a brand new travel survey, 46 percent of consumers said that they hadn’t checked their tire pressure in the last 3 months.
Your challenge is to get the attention of drivers who are now better-positioned, financially and emotionally, to spend money on a new or current vehicle. A well-crafted automotive direct mail piece can move these consumers to your facility’s doors.
Successful Automotive Direct Mail Strategies
History and experience working with automotive marketing firms, agencies, and dealerships counts for a lot in significantly improving results for existing direct mail programs as well as producing and managing new ones.
Here’s an example:
One of our partners, an automotive marketing company representing a global brand with 700 dealers nationwide mailing over 330,000 pieces monthly, reached out to us and wanted our support to better leverage their customer data through their direct mail program.
Their goal (and ours): Version variable data, resulting in more relevant, timely, and personal direct mail.
Our collaborative solution involved:
- Building technology (including software) to accommodate terabytes of data from their dealer network
- Adding security and enhancing the functionality of our data transfer and printing process
- Strengthening key associate responsibilities and security clearances to be able to monitor and manage the data flow at all production stages
- 2.6 million pieces mailed monthly for dealers
- 200+ unique data options
- 40+ data points per press run
- 1000s of customer records added & accessible on 24/7 permissions-based secure server
Getting every step completed in sequence, on time, and on track to meet our goals was a collaborative effort, all to ensure that stronger and higher-converting campaigns can be mailed.
5 Ideas for Your Next Automotive Direct Mail Campaign
As far as formats go, you have a lot of options to carry your message. But what tactics work best to get customers to choose your business, and to keep coming back?
1. Show Off Your Endorsements
Drivers put a lot of stock in the professional opinions of others. They weigh their expertise when making a decision of what to buy, whether it’s a new vehicle, or getting work done on your current ride. Mention how your brand has received recognition from widely-respected authorities, as well as consumer ratings or testimonials.
2. Draw a Map
If you’re located on a commercial corridor, your signage may not be enough to make an easy impression on all of the drivers whizzing by. Make it easy for customers – especially new movers – to get to you by using a map that shows your location. Even better, use Variable Data Printing (VDP) in your direct mail piece to draw a precise, custom map that shows how to arrive at your door.
3. Celebrate a Holiday
Holidays are a classic way to promote vehicle sales and service specials. Christmas, New Year’s, Presidents’ Day, and Independence Day are just a few of the most popular ones.
But think outside the box a little and consider promotions based on other occasions that can attract visitors to your establishment. Some examples I’ve seen include Black Friday, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day. And a Back to School sale offers reassurance to nervous parents that a new or well-maintained car will keep their kids safe.
4. Give Customers Something Tangible
Coupons, coupons, coupons!
A lot of automotive direct mail marketers already get this one right. When a customer has a physical (in print) promise of a discount, doors open. But you can also use savings “certificates”, “exclusive” invitations, and “event passes” to achieve the same result.
5. Reward Your Friends
Are all car repair places the same? Does it really matter who sold you your car?
For a lot of customers, a car or truck is more than basic transportation; it’s an extension of who they are.
And like anyone in a relationship, they want to feel wanted. So keep things fresh by remembering anniversaries, say, of their vehicle purchase. Send helpful hints on how to keep their car in prime condition. In other words, remember that loyalty is a two-way street, and that you have to keep up your end of the deal, or they will go somewhere else with their money and devotion.
Samples of Successful Mailers for the Automotive Industry
Think about what formats work best for your purposes. Here are the most popular direct mail products for car dealers and auto repair shops:
Postcards are a great way to make a quick impact with your automotive direct mail. Using a small amount of space, they can quickly, effectively, and affordably focus the attention of your customers and prospects on your message.
Folded self-mailers are the perfect automotive direct mail piece to provide a lot of information. You can use their pages or panels to tell a story about your dealership, shop, or brand across multiple panels or pages.
Direct mail letters and envelopes provide a professional feel that can engage prospects for more general messages to your audience while also allowing more privacy for confidential (and personalized) messages. With even more space available than the other two formats, envelopes give you a great variety of options for your campaign.
Wrapping it up
With the right partner, your automotive direct mail can capitalize on the power of print to deliver a print experience that’s helpful and meaningful, whether your customer is buying a new car or just getting an oil change.
At mailing.com, our direct mail experts have worked with top American brands such as Subaru of America, CBRE, and AAA to develop end-to-end marketing solutions. Our state-of-the-art equipment and processes allow for flexibility and innovation in every aspect of a client’s direct mail needs. Drop us a line to talk about how we can work together on your automotive direct mail!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of June 2021.