Mike's Express Carwash begins e-mail program and sees 60% increase in online revenue

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Mike's Express Carwash, a chain of 37 carwashes located across Indiana and Ohio, has found e-mail marketing to help clean up in online sales. The brand did its first e-mail marketing campaign, with partner ExactTarget, in June. Its just-released metrics show that the e-mail marketing program lifted online sales more than 60% for the month over sales in June 2008. 

The June campaign, which Mike's is calling the “Father's Day e-mail promotion,” boosted online sales of discount car wash books, a book of coupons for car washes that includes a six-for-the-price-of-four deal. This was the first time that e-mail was used to promote the annual booklet sale and it was sent out to 13,000 customers in the Midwest region. Since June weather was bad, a condition which tends to keep customers away from the car wash, where these books are typically sold, Mike's Express Carwash marketing director Sally Grant decided to try to promote the booklets online.

“The idea was to get people to go to the Web site to buy the book,” said Grant. “Usually people purchase them in-store, but we wanted to have another outlet to sell these since it is hard to get customers to come to our location if it is raining. And if we don't have people driving into our locations to get a carwash, they don't know about the sale.”

The success of the June campaign has led to an acquisition effort this month. The brand is running a back-to-school campaign that offers customers a free car wash in exchange for completing an online customer satisfaction survey and subscribing to its e-mail marketing program. On-site customers are invited to sign up for the e-mail program via a flyer, when they purchase a car wash.  Every receipt includes a unique offer code and a link to the survey site (www.talktomikes.com). Customers log on to the Web site, opt-in and complete a two-question survey to get the free car wash. So far the campaign has expanded Mike's list by 40,000 new e-mail signups.

“We want to use e-mail marketing in two ways,” said Grant. “One way is to reward our customers with coupons and promotions. The other way is to collect enough e-mail addresses so that when we have key promotions, we have people to e-mail to.”

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