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Automotive CRM Programs Make Their Debut

Software vendors yesterday announced customer relationship management programs targeting automotive dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association show in New Orleans.

Experian Automotive, Orange, CA, announced that two of its services, Auto4Customers and Auto Prospect Online, have been integrated to help dealers select and communicate with targeted prospects online.

Experian Automotive also launched Auto.DemographicsNow.com, a Web-based market intelligence tool that it said will let dealers analyze vehicle penetration in any given area online. By submitting queries through online forms, dealers can gather demographic and automotive-related data about a specific geographic area. Reports generated through Auto.DemographicsNow.com highlight several combinations of consumer, vehicle and census data.

Autobytel Inc., Irvine, CA, an Internet automotive marketing services company, unveiled a dealership service reminder program called Retention-Performance-Marketing.

According to Autobytel, RPM helps dealers maximize their parts and service profit centers. According to NADA, McLean, VA, 53 percent of a dealership's profits come from service and parts. However, the data show that the cost of customer acquisition is steadily on the rise. Direct mail expenses, for example, have increased 91 percent in the past 10 years, with dealers spending $400 million in 2000 alone.

Autobytel said RPM is designed to ensure that dealers' communications are sent to customers with accurate contact information. The product purifies the data in customer records, verifying contact information from within the dealership management system. Then it automatically outputs welcome letters or e-mails for new car buying and service customers. Service reminders and campaigns are sent out on a regular basis based on each customer's specific driving habits.

A free dealer/manufacturer-branded personalized Web page can also be automatically created for the customer, and personalized service reminder letters or e-mails can follow on a dealer-specified timeline.

Autobytel also said it plans to roll out another marketing services product shortly called iMarketer that calls upon the company's consumer and marketing experience to provide the lowest customer acquisition costs to every dealer profit center, including new vehicle, used vehicle, and parts and service.

Acxiom Corp., Little Rock, AK, and The Cobalt Group, Seattle, an e-business software and services provider to the automotive retail market, unveiled AutoMarket In.Sight, a turnkey e-CRM solution.

According to both companies, AutoMarket In.Sight helps pinpoint the most qualified, in-market customers and prospects for dealers' marketing.

Dealers can review and approve their campaigns online through MotorPlace.com, Cobalt's online business management portal for the automotive industry. Throughout the campaign, AutoMarket In.Sight produces reports on vehicle sales activity and campaign return on investment through MotorPlace.com.

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