It’s 2020. How do you communicate with your service customers and sales leads?

If you’re not texting them, you should be.

Today more than 80% of the U.S. population has a cellphone. And 79% of adults have a smartphone with them 22 hours a day, interacting with it around 63 times total.

If that’s not enough to convince you of the short message service (SMS) marketing opportunity, maybe this will: compared to any other marketing medium, text messaging has the best engagement. In fact, more than 89% of text messages sent by business are opened, and 82% are read within five minutes of receipt — compare that to 24% and 2% for email and paid advertising respectively.

Connecting with prospects and customers via text messaging is not just fast and cheap. With the right technology, your messages can be highly targeted. However, despite these benefits, it seems like dealerships have been slow to adopt this kind of communication practice.

Read on to discover why you should.

Why your dealership should use SMS Marketing

Receiving text messages (with permission — keep reading to see why this is critical) is a highly preferred form of communication for consumers. According to Forbes, 60% of consumers prefer SMS marketing over email marketing.

In fact, a 2014 study by Autotrader.com revealed 37% of prospective car buyers prefer the dealership text them during the buying process, and 47% want to continue to receive texts after they make a purchase. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this to build a relationship and encourage loyalty with your customers.

Reaching out to your service customers regularly via text messaging can help you accomplish your revenue goals. Later in this article we’ll talk about how it can help you schedule more service appointments and build relationships with your prospects.

What you need to get started sending SMS texts

Effective messages

SMS text messages tend to be short — around 160 characters — and contain information that is valuable to the recipient. Before getting started, make sure you craft a message that is attention grabbing — we’ve included several ideas at the end of this article but here’s a great idea for communicating with your service customers:

Service Department Automatic SMS Text Marketing Message

Service Department SMS Marketing Text Message - Thank You

Many technologies, which we discuss in the next section, allow you personalize your message. Try different approaches to make your messages more conversational and relatable for your recipients. Here’s a pro tip: When 160 characters isn’t enough to generate curiosity and inspire action, send two messages. Just make sure you factor in the cost of a two-part delivery.

Finally, don’t forget to include a strong call to action that tells your audience who you are and how to contact you. When generating your call to action make sure to link it to a mobile-friendly landing page where people can learn more about the message you just sent.

Technology

There are hundreds of SMS marketing software tools on the market. Choosing the one that is best for your dealership will be dependent on how you plan to use it.

Some technologies like Mozeo simply help you deliver marketing messages and respond to general questions. Others come with added features that make personalizing and targeting your outreach easy.

Texting Base is one example of a company that has built out features specifically for dealerships. With its bi-directional communication tools, customers can book appointments or check on the progress of a service.

The best technologies, however, allow both dealerships and customers to do much, much more. One of the most unique solutions offering SMS marketing and other personalized customer engagement opportunities is DriveSure. In addition to automated SMS text messages, DriveSure’s mobile technology allows dealers to use geofencing to trigger the delivery of messages to a mobile device based on its location.

A database of contacts

SMS technology allows you to reach out to a wide variety of people. You can message your customers, your current leads, or even a purchased list of prospects. All you need is a phone number and permission.

If your customer relationship management (CRM) database doesn’t already include phone numbers, ask for them. Request them at service appointments or reach out via email or direct mail for the information.

When capturing new leads on your website, ask for their phone number and an opt-in. If they’re on your lot talking to a sales rep, train your team to get their information before they go.

The telephone consumer protection act (TCPA) is the law that governs text message (and other telephone-based) marketing. Compliance is critical. In short, this means that unless you have established a previous relationship with a customer, you must get an opt-in. And you must always include opt-out options. To make this easy, find a technology that allows you to manage your unsubscribe list with little effort.

Learn more about TCPA legislation and the precautions you should take to remain compliant here.

SMS marketing examples for dealerships

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part of any new adventure. To get you off on the right foot here are some great SMS examples to help you nurture leads, encourage loyalty, and communicate with your customers.

Nurture Leads

When your prospects are in the consideration phase of their buying journey, they often have many questions as they narrow down the selection of vehicles. SMS marketing can be a great way to educate your customers during this critical phase. Here are a few examples of messages you can send to help you develop a relationship with your leads.

Connect directly

Hello, [customer name]! I noticed you recently subscribed to [car dealership] mobile newsletter. Can I answer any questions about our dealership?

Answer requests for information

Hi! Happy to hear you’re interested in servicing your [car] with us. To schedule an appointment call us at: [your phone number].Need something else — like information on a new or used vehicle or to talk to our finance department? Reply to this text and we’ll get you started!

Send relevant promotions

You get 6 months of service benefits with the purchase of a vehicle from [car dealership]? Visit our service department and we’ll renew them for free!

Encourage Loyalty

Sending out a text blast is an easy way to drum up enthusiasm for your business. Segment your database, then send relevant and targeted information on a regular basis. Try one of the following examples.

Offer maintenance tips

Hello [name], how are you enjoying your new [car]? For the latest recommended maintenance schedule, check out our guide: [your website link]

Offer perks

Hey [name]. Our used vehicle inventory is low. Bring in your [car brand] to [dealership] before Saturday and we’ll get you in a newer one for less than or equal to what you are paying now.

Send surveys

[Name], fill out our 2 min survey about your visit to [dealership] yesterday. When you’re finished we’ll send you a coupon for a free car wash.

Communicate with Customers

Use SMS as a quick and convenient way to communicate with your customers. Communicating important information about upcoming appointments and reminders will help cut down on missed appointments and delayed maintenance. Here are a few ideas for connecting with your customers:

Deliver repair communications

[Name], the parts we ordered for your [car] have arrived. Please call [dealership] service department at [number] to schedule an appointment for the repair.

Send appointment reminders

Hi [name], can you still make your oil change on [date] at [time]? Reply with YES to confirm or call us at [number] to reschedule.

Announce recalls

[Name], there has been a recall issued for your [car]. We’ve emailed you the full recall report but wanted to get your repair appointment on our books right away. Please respond to this message to schedule.

_______________

Adopting an SMS marketing strategy is the perfect solution for car dealerships to generate and nurture its leads. Not only will it help you reach prospects and customers quickly, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to build credibility and trust.

 

With just a little preparation and planning you can stand out from your competition, forever changing the way your dealership is perceived. Tell us — how are you using text outreach to connect with your customers, encourage loyalty, and accomplish your goals?

 

 

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