For car dealership network MileOne, lead generation can be tricky business. It does generate leads for consumers in the market to buy a car, but not many people are particularly loyal to car dealerships.
MileOne — a chain of 59 car dealerships located across Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — addressed this issue recently by merging its lead scoring technology with its incentives program to attract the attention of customers most likely to buy.
“The incentive differentiates us,” said David Metter, CMO of MileOne. “The customer knows in their mind that they are buying a car, but they are looking at maybe three different dealers where they can buy. They often expect the experience to be the same across the board.”
STRATEGY: MileOne introduced its lead-scoring provider RL Polk & Co. to its incentives marketing partner HookLogic and integrated data across both in a move to drive sales. The teams ran a test campaign at select MileOne dealerships from April 19 through June 19.
“It is like the Reese’s peanut butter cup merging these two great partners together,” said Metter. “We always wanted to figure out how to influence top scoring leads, and this approach worked.”
The idea was to increase the “lead-to-show” ratio percentage, or leads that visit a dealership, and the “show-to-close” ratio or the percentage of dealership walk-ins that purchase.
MileOne used Polk’s marketing tool to measure online lead generation. Whenever a potential customer expressed interest in learning more about a particular car through a Web form, Polk would give a lead score based on their likelihood to buy.
“We’re able to identify how likely people are to actually buy using analytics technology,” said Michael Spadafore, global director, consumer and commercial marketing at RL Polk & Co. “This data is helpful, but dealers are always struggling with how to properly follow up with these people who are likely to buy.”
This lead data was then integrated with HookLogic’s incentive management tools. Leads that were more likely to buy received a special incentive from HookLogic. High scoring leads received an e-mail inviting them to take a test drive at MileOne with a special offer to receive a $25 Visa cash card. The idea was to motivate shoppers who might not have a dealership preference to purchase at MileOne.
“The incentive is designed to make MileOne stand out early in the purchase cycle,” said John Behrman, chief product officer for HookLogic. “A critical thing for MileOne was not just giving incentives to everyone, but instead giving them to the best quality leads. They want good showroom traffic.”
Metter said that because they already had existing relationships with both marketing providers, the integration was fairly simple. In addition, the campaign helped MileOne save money, because they only sent incentives to high scoring leads and not to leads with a lower likelihood to buy.
RESULTS: During the two-month pilot program, MileOne found that almost 23% of prospects that received an incentive opened the e-mail and clicked to print the coupon. That is almost twice as high as MileOne’s typical e-mail open rates. In addition, the program increased its “lead-to-show” ratio by 29%, meaning that prospects that printed the e-mail coupon actually visited the dealership, took a test drive and redeemed the coupon.
MileOne also found that the campaign helped drive sales. The incentive resulted in a 12% increase in its show-to-close ratio. In addition, MileOne dealerships that used the incentives saw a 20% lift in sales compared with those dealerships that did not employ the campaign, a $60,000 increase in gross revenue.
“I think the campaign validated that we were on the right path with lead scoring and incentive marketing, but by combining the two, we were really able to differentiate ourselves from the competition,” said Metter.