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Here at ADS, many times our company is contracted to fulfill large print and mail orders for larger events. Our typical print runs range from about 30,000 to 150,000 per event. I’m always shocked at the number of initial responses these investments generate, although it is a known probability. But more than that, I am shocked about the lack of strategy involved when considering the others who didn’t respond at all. What if there was a strategy in place to keep them connected until the moment they were ready to respond?

Let me give you an example:

A stellar direct mail piece sent at the right time, in the right market for the right dealership may generate a 4% or so response rate. If you do the math, this means 1,200 positive leads on a 30,000 piece promotion.

In case you didn’t know already (and you probably do), the automotive industry was built up on hype. The “dog and pony show” has been, and always will be, the most effective way to get customers onto your lots.

You may stand to gain plenty from 1,200 ups in a 5 day period. Everyone knows that. However, I’m always amazed at how many dealerships don’t have any strategy in place whatsoever for the other 96%. Many dealerships completely ignore this other 96% in favor of working with the people who turn into ups. Why would you market to the other 96% as if they’re on an extended overseas vacation? These people are still around, waiting to buy from you!

Find the right partner

You should consider partnering with a marketing agency that not only has the ability to create an immediate showing, but also has a strategy in place for the larger part of your audience. You shouldn’t just stop at creating a compelling call to action in the present – a later strategy is something that will also serve you over time.

This theory can not only be applied to your direct marketing efforts, but should more importantly be applied to your CRM and customer database. In today’s culture, automotive dealerships should see real value in moving customers through a sales funnel – or as I like to call it, a “bread crumb trail.” Once you can accomplish moving customers through these funnels, you’ll see an increased response rate as well as a much higher closing ratio overall.

This is how you send the right message to the right person at the right time. Dealerships struggle with this, but you can’t ignore that other 96%. When it comes to measuring the response rate of your automotive direct mail pieces, don’t just stop at the ones who do respond. Make it an integral part of your strategy to work with people who don’t convert, as well as customers who end up coming in. Your long-term strategy should always include a way of measuring and working with all responses. Just because a customer doesn’t become one overnight, he or she may follow the bread crumb trail and buy from you over time.