• Marketing Delivery says agency retailers must also find new ways to evidence and promote positive customer satisfaction to drive awareness and improve retention
  • Firm has been supporting Sandown Group in refining their CRM strategy to gear up for agency retail model
  • ‘Always on’ approach to marketing increasingly essential to set retailers apart

Motor retailers operating under new agency agreements with OEMs need to adopt new approaches to interacting with current and prospective customers online and offline, if they are to counteract potential falls in turnover and profitability. That’s according to Marketing Delivery, which has been supporting Sandown Group with its latest customer relationship management strategy as it adapts to the agency model.

With margins on new car sales fixed, Marketing Delivery argues that agency retailers need to do more than their peers to draw prospects into the sales funnel early in the purchase research phase, when potential customers are less likely to have committed to a specific marque or model.

“The window of opportunity is small and shrinking; consumers will typically only engage with a dealer when they are ready to buy – highlighted by the fact that the retailer enquiry-to-order period has now fallen to just five days,” explains Charlotte Murray, Commercial Director at Marketing Delivery. “That means dealers need to think about pre-enquiry comms, identifying and reaching out to relevant consumers during their early research phase. They then need to ensure speed and quality of response once the consumer contacts them, either online or offline.”

An ‘always on’ approach to digital advertising is becoming essential if agency businesses are to be visible to prospects during the research phase, argues Murray. “Retailers need to get in early and make every interaction personalised, timely and relevant. For most, that is only achievable – at the required scale – through automation.”

Sandown taking progressive approach to agency comms

Marketing Delivery has been providing CRM support to Sandown Group, a leading retailer of new and used Mercedes-Benz cars and vans operating through nine sites across southern England.

Keith Jackman, Head of Marketing and CRM at Sandown Mercedes-Benz, explains: “We've refined our already robust CRM processes to ensure we maximise the opportunities to deliver customer delight; for example, by ensuring handovers are special, memorable and ideally shareable too. We now have a customer referral programme in place across all sites, including a ‘refer a friend’ promotion where we give a luxury gift hamper to our customers when they introduce a new customer.”

As well as focusing much more on delivering a stand-out online and offline customer experience, retailers must find new ways to evidence and promote positive customer satisfaction to drive positive awareness and improve retention.

“It’s about telling as well as doing,” adds Jackman. “We’ve recognised how important it is to show current and potential customers just how we do things differently and go the extra mile. And we’re working with Marketing Delivery to encourage positive customer reviews by including Google and Trustpilot links in the emails our customers receive once they have taken delivery of their new car.”

Marketing Delivery points to recent increases in the importance of reviews in the purchase process; including new data suggesting 93% of consumers now read reviews before making a purchase (Trustpilot – ‘Digitising Commerce’). The company recommends embedding review requests and CSI surveys into the CRM process in creative ways, rather than making them an afterthought, as well as using automation to simplify and encourage the submission of reviews.

Murray concludes: “Once the positive reviews have been captured, retailers need a systematic approach towards sharing positive reviews at relevant points throughout the customer journey, for example via paid and organic social media activity, within enquiry ‘thank you’ messages and in messages introducing the aftersales offering.”

More information about Marketing Delivery is available at www.marketingdelivery.co.uk or by calling 01892 599912.