As information on our activity (both electronically and non-electronically) increases, the behavioral marketing strategies derived from this data becomes more refined. For the Automobile dealer, it becomes the roadmap for efficiency in direct marketing.
Take a market area of 2,000,000 such as the northern portion of Phoenix. My data sources tell me during the months of April and May, 2011, there are 180,000 opt-in email ‘contenders’ as well as about 120,000 additional postal-only ‘contenders’ as far as automotive vehicle purchases are concerned.
What do they mean by contenders? This is a term that will become more familiar as we move into the next decade of direct marketing techniques. A ‘contender’ is someone who by their on or off-line behavior, has shown interest in a product with the potential to buy that product.
As for the data source that said they had identified a total of about 300,000 ‘contenders’ in the northern Phoenix market, that rings about right as far as how many people and households are looking to potentially buy a vehicle in any given month, which is about 14-16%. Note, there is no way that 14-16% of households purchase a vehicle in any given month, that is just the ‘candidate’ number for a month. Only a small fraction of those ‘candidates’ actually purchase in any given month. The candidate factor takes into account the length of time that someone might be looking. ‘Candidates’ may remain candidates for a couple of months, several months or even, in some cases, more than a year. This is completely in accordance with the research that has been done regarding buying cycles and how it applies to the purchase of automobiles.
So, in order to have a direct marketing program that makes sense, work with data that identifies the candidates and continue to address these candidates with your product (as far your budget will allow). Use email delivery for addressing those that have opted in and can be identified by their email addresses. Use postal for the ones that cannot be reached by email. Work with a company that offers both. And for those of you who think that the postal (printed) marketing is no longer valid, the data doesn’t support this as there are still significant numbers of households that cannot be successfully addressed via opt-in email. This may not be the reality in the future, but it sure is today.