Managing customer relationships. Tracking opportunities. Repeat and referral business. Sound familiar? These are just a few of the benefits a CRM system brings to a dealership. While these are important to salespeople and managers alike, they miss the mark when it comes to the front-end of the customer relationship – when they are in the lead stage. CRM is a great solution for lead tracking, but it does little to convert leads into customers. To do this, dealers need to come up with effective outreach strategies for converting them into a paying customer.
Customer lifecycle marketing, or CLM, combines two imperative technologies: marketing automation and lifecycle stage tracking. These are made to assist dealerships in gathering deeper insights into who their prospects, current customers and repeat customers are really all about. It’s these very insights that provide dealerships with the ability to nurture these leads and customers, increasing the number of qualified leads, sales, service appointments, and referrals.
CLM is designed to integrate with a CRM system to provide more capabilities to marketing and sales teams. With it, dealerships can nurture leads from one stage of the customer lifecycle to the next, building trust and relationships that lead to more car sales and more referral business. So how does it work?
Identify your best leads
Before including CLM into their strategy , a dealership essentially sends the same marketing message to every single prospective new customer, regardless of where they are in the customer lifecycle. While this can help move along a few leads, it’s generally unsuccessful at generating concrete business for the dealership. Why? Not all leads are created equal. For example:
- A lead in the database has only visited the dealer’s website and signed up to receive a free appraisal, providing their email address. They are in the early stages of their car search and are trying to figure out how much they can get for their trade. However, they’ve never even set foot onto the lot.
- Another lead spent almost all day Saturday talking to a sales person, test driving cars, and collecting information. This lead hasn’t had an appraisal yet, but seemed very interested, relaying they planned on making a purchase before the end of the month.
“If dealers incorporate CLM, they can identify their strongest leads and target them with marketing communication that resonates with where they are in the lifecycle. “
Would you talk to these leads differently? Of course! They are in completely different stages of the lifecycle and should be treated appropriately.
If dealers incorporate CLM, they can identify their strongest leads and target them with marketing communication that resonates with where they are in the lifecycle. Likewise, CLM allows dealers to nurture leads that are less qualified, increasing the likelihood of them becoming qualified leads and eventually potential customers.
Track your leads’ movement
The combination of a CRM and CLM provides another critical opportunity for dealers: behavior tracking. Instead of basing marketing campaigns on demographics only (i.e., location, gender, vehicle of interest), dealerships can access information like the website pages prospects are visiting, the types of content they are interested in, and their lifecycle stage. This helps marketing and sales teams tailor their pitch/message more specifically to each individual lead. Instead of hitting qualified leads with the same pitch that goes out to everyone else, they can now be targeted with more precise marketing.
Stop wasting time
If a dealership is only utilizing a CRM system to manage lead and customer relationships, then their salespeople are spending a tremendous amount of time on the computer and not on the lot. Why not automate marketing to prospective and current customers, nurturing each through the lifecycle to create more qualified leads and repeat/referral business?
“If a dealership is only utilizing a CRM system to manage lead and customer relationships, then their salespeople are spending a tremendous amount of time on the computer and not on the lot.”
CLM helps sales teams (as well as marketing teams) to become more efficient and effective by automatically nurturing and staying in front of unqualified and even cold leads, allowing sales teams to focus on the folks who are ready to buy. What’s more, CLM helps marketing teams prevent cold leads from becoming dead, potentially warming them up and moving them through the lifecycle to the qualified lead stage.
Capture leads’ attention
According to the Aberdeen Group, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent. Years ago, marketers were taught that “personalizing an email” meant including the recipient’s name in the subject line or in the body of the message. Today, personalization extends beyond the recipient’s first name to their behavior, interests, and lifecycle stage.
“Today, personalization extends beyond the recipient’s first name to their behavior, interests, and lifecycle stage.”
CLM combines profile information such as demographics with behavior or engagement data, and then completes the view of the lead or customer by adding their lifecycle stage to the mix. After all, two people can be pretty similar in every way but if one is a customer and the other is not, they should not be receiving the same email from your general manager!
Don’t get left behind. It’s time to move beyond managing relationships to actually building relationships that increase sales and customer satisfaction.