E-Mails Steer Hyundai Test-Drive Push

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Hyundai Motor America begins its first e-mail campaign this month to get people into dealerships for test drives.

E-mails will go to 500,000 people. Some are current Hyundai owners but most were gathered at auto shows, from Web site visitors and other sources. Building a sufficiently large opt-in database is one reason Hyundai has not done e-mail marketing previously.

"Hyundai wanted to make sure they had the right group of people to go after, that they had permission to market to them and that they were interested," said V.A. Shiva, CEO of Echomail, the Cambridge, MA, company that created the campaign and will provide the technology for the promotion.

The e-mails will remind recipients that they opted in to receive messages from the carmaker.

They will be HTML or text and will be personalized based on information about the consumer. Shiva said the text of the e-mails will vary slightly depending on whether the recipient is a current Hyundai owner or a prospect. A link to Hyundai.com and a forward-to-a-friend component will be provided.

Hyundai is offering no incentives for taking a test drive. The e-mails will provide the name and address of the nearest Hyundai dealer. They also will include an offer from MTV and details of a sweepstakes, though Hyundai would not disclose the details of either of those components.

Another round of e-mails will go out in early June. The size of that mailing depends on how many people opt out after receiving the first e-mail as well as how many new names Hyundai acquires in the three weeks between the first and second e-mails.

The offer for the second mailing has not been determined, but Shiva said it will contain images of Hyundai automobiles along with mention of special offers and a test drive. As with the first e-mail, there will be a link to Hyundai.com and a forward-to-a-friend component.

In addition to driving people to dealerships for a test drive, Hyundai wants a better understanding of who is on its e-mail list and expand those names through a viral component in the first e-mail. Hyundai also expects that the data it gathers will let it produce more targeted direct marketing campaigns across all media.

A long-term goal of the campaign is to reduce the cost of customer acquisition.

Shiva said that Hyundai will assess the response to the two e-mail distributions before deciding whether to do additional e-mail marketing.

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