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Is text marketing a good idea for your dealership? Let’s do a pop quiz to find out. How many times did you check your phone today?
If your answer is below 46, you are below average.
That’s right — on average, Americans check their cell phones 46 times a day. As a nation, we collectively check our phones upwards of eight billion times a day.
Text Marketing: A Definite YES
Those statistics should tell you all you need to know about whether text marketing is worth your time and money. Yes, you should advertise to people on a device they check almost 50 times every day. As Napoleon Dynamite would say, “Heck yes you should.”
Now that you’ve decided to start text messaging, what’s next? Here are five tips to get your dealership started.
1. How Do I Start a Text Marketing Campaign?
We use a web-based program called Tatango that allows us to create and schedule text messages right from our computers.
We like Tatango. It’s simple and straightforward, and the analytics are laid out cleanly on a user-friendly dashboard.
2. How Do I Get Subscribers?
As is the standard practice in automotive inbound marketing, you’ll need the customer to come to you.
People can opt in to your campaign by texting a short code to a certain number or by submitting their phone number on your website. With an online opt-in, customers must also verify their subscription by answering “YES” to the first message they receive.
To get subscribers, you’ll need to advertise. Effective outlets include:
- Facebook ads: Take out a Facebook ad featuring your new texting campaign.
- Email: Create a graphic and attach it to the end of each marketing email you send.
- Website: Advertise on your website, including a special landing page created for the campaign.
- Store: Put flyers up in your dealership, and tell your customers about the service when they are in your store. You could tell your service advisors to remind your customers about texting specials.
3. What Should I Send My Subscribers?
The short answer: something good. Nobody is going to stay on board for $1 off their next oil change. Offer them $30 off their next service appointment or a half-price oil change.
As an auto dealership, most of your texts will be service-related. You could use texting to promote car specials too, but offering tangible service deals will bring customers into your store and lower your risk of unsubscribes.
You can’t target text messages like you can target emails. So if you send a text blast offering savings on all 2016 models, you might lose half your subscribers because they just bought a new car. On the other hand, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t want to save 50 percent on an oil change.
The bar for keeping text messaging subscribers is much higher than email. It’s easier to unsubscribe from a text (all you do is reply “STOP” in all caps) than to unsubscribe from an email (you have to not only open the email but also find the unsubscribe link at the bottom).
Also, annoying emails are a dime a dozen. People will let them pile up. That’s not the case with unwanted texts. You can bet people won’t hesitate to type “STOP” to a text message campaign.
We’ve built subscription lists for our clients by offering good deals and maintaining regular contact with subscribers without bothering them too often. We started a campaign for one of our auto dealers in July that has steadily grown:
Another of our clients’ campaigns is up to 1,325 subscribers and counting. This client, which is in the food service industry, sees major success getting customers in the door via our texting campaign. For example, a subscriber who shows the text in the store can receive a free ice cream float with the purchase of a hamburger, per a recent text message.
4. How Often Should I Send?
The stats we mentioned about people looking at their phones are a double-edged sword. While the popularity of cell phones can make your text marketing campaign a resounding success, that same popularity can also cause it to be a colossal failure.
People like texts, even texts that contain advertising. But if you text them too often, they’ll unsubscribe immediately. Wait at least 10 days between texting offers. Sending a message every two weeks is a good rule of thumb for your dealership.
5. What Are the Rules?
Text messages must comply with certain regulations, which you can read more about here. We won’t go into all of the fine print, but here are some of the main rules:
- Opt-in message: Your first opt-in text must include certain language, including the name of your business, opt-out instructions, a recurring program description, help instructions, and the fact that messaging and data rates from your carrier may apply to the message.
- Opt-out option: Every message you send must indicate to the customer they can reply “STOP” to end the messages.
- Terms and conditions: You must link any online advertising to a list of terms and conditions.
Failing to follow the regulations outlined by the CTIA (The Wireless Association, formerly the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) won’t get you in legal trouble, but it might get you reported to mobile carriers, who can shut down your campaign.
Here’s a blueprint to help you follow the regulations (you will need to provide your email to download it). Note that the text messaging campaign provider you choose will likely have some compliance features built in.
Text messaging is important, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle that is digital marketing for mobile.
To take another step toward becoming a master of marketing to mobile devices, download our free eBook, Instagram for Auto Dealers.