We’ve all had our phone ring and look at the number on the screen, only to realize it’s a spam call. Every person with a phone receives 28 robocalls and texts on average a month! In March 2021, the Federal Communications Commission fined two Texas-based telemarketers a record-breaking $225 million for robocalling clients. Consumers who are inundated with communication overload may overlook legitimate notifications or messages, thinking that they are spam.
Effective communication is integral to the success of any marketing campaign. In a world where a consumer is spammed, how do legitimate offers and communications from businesses stand out?
The key is to provide value and respect communication compliance guidelines and laws. Every business is eager to sell a new service or let a consumer know of an upcoming deadline. Following rules about consumer communication means the consumer is far less likely to view these attempts as spam.
What Counts as Spam?
Spam is defined as any kind of unwanted, unsolicited communication that gets sent out in bulk. The messaging could be too much in volume, intrusive timing, or irrelevant content.
Instead of delivering value, spam attracts the customers’ attention in a negative way, and can lead to a damaged brand reputation. Consumers who feel they have been spammed can either block a communication online, request to be opted-out, or report a sender to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles spam complaints.
The best way to avoid over-communication or intrusive communication is to work with a marketing partner who has the experience and insight to guide the types of communication being used in a marketing campaign.
Different Channels of Communication
A strong marketing partner will help your dealership decide on the best way to communicate with your customers. Different types of communication often work best with different messaging, so variety is key. For example, a text message about an oil change being due soon may be more effective than a phone call, as it enables a customer to add it to their phone’s calendar.
Some of the most common channels for effective communication with customers include:
- Direct mail such as letters and postcards
- Phone Calls
- Text messaging
- Mobile push notifications
- Live chat
Each channel has etiquette, regulations, and best practices that should be followed to be effective and avoid being marked as spam.
Compliance with Anti-Spam Laws and Regulations
Over time, laws and regulations to protect consumers have been formed, and marketers should follow these to the letter to operate professionally and ethically.
- The CAN-SPAM Act – the primary law governing commercial email in the United States adopted by most states. It mandates businesses to get consent from recipients before sending them emails and provide an easy unsubscribe process.
- The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – regulates telemarketing calls. It prohibits businesses from making unsolicited calls to consumers’ homes or cell phones without their prior consent and not using automated dialing systems.
- The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) – supplements the TCPA. It provides additional protections for consumers, such as requiring businesses to identify themselves when making telemarketing calls and provide certain information about their goods and services.
- State-specific anti-spam and consumer protection laws – individual states have rules against false, misleading, or abusive business marketing conduct.
The cost of non-compliance with these laws and regulations can be stiff – including consumer complaints, fines and penalties, and blocking and filtering, to name a few.
Mind Your Timing
When contacting customers, timing is everything.
Avoid sending messages or calling customers too often or at inconvenient times, such as early morning or late evening. While you may have well-crafted messages with value, the wrong time means they may go unnoticed in a sea of unread messages. Instead, spread communications out to avoid consumers experiencing overload.
Additionally, mind your recipient’s location. If they’re in a different time zone, contact them when they’re likely to be awake or active.
Research your customers’ habits and behaviors to identify the optimal time to send them messages or contact them. The right timing can significantly boost a messages’ effectiveness.
Use Relevant Content
What are the customers’ needs, challenges, and interests?
Ensure that communications to customers and potential customers provide value and helpful information tailored to the recipient’s needs rather than generic blasts. For example, don’t send a customer with a sedan information on a lift-package specials – they won’t care! Remember, over 70% of customers expect to receive personalized marketing messages.
Go beyond addressing recipients by name and tailor the content to resonate and increase their chances of opening and reading it.
Provide an Easy Opt-Out Option
If a customer no longer wishes to receive content or calls from a business, respecting their wishes is essential. Always provide a hassle-free opt-out procedure – a link in an email or a checkbox on your website. These are easy ways for customers to opt-out that demonstrate value for customers’ preferences and privacy.
When they opt out, avoid deleting their contact information. Instead, put it onto a ‘do not contact’ or suppression list to quickly refer to the contacts you can not use in the future.
Tactics to Avoid Spamming
While the above tips work, there are other strategies you can leverage to avoid overcommunication with consumers:
- Avoid purchasing contact lists, especially emails. Instead, collect emails and phone numbers using genuine methods, such as gaining permission during an interaction, opt-in forms, promotions, contests, and giveaways, and organically at events or in person.
- Don’t continually contact a non-responsive customer.
- Provide high-quality and valuable content that’s not overly sales-focused.
- Strike a balance between staying in touch with your customers and not overwhelming them.
- Segment contact lists to personalize messages as much as possible.
- Use clear and concise subject lines free of exclamation points and all caps.
- Use a reputable email service provider with the capabilities of spam filtering to help prevent customers from marking your emails as spam.
Building Relationships the Right Way
The benefits of effective communication with customers for dealerships cannot be overlooked. It’s an excellent way to build meaningful relationships that nurture rather than annoy. It’s about maintaining open lines of dialogue that add value to the customer and drive sales for the dealership showroom and F&I department.
We encourage dealers and agents to contact us to learn how Automotive Product Consultants can power a post-sale vehicle service contract marketing program that will drive sales and revenue for your dealership. Reach out to us today for a free program demo.