Proven online promotional strategies

By Brad Smith

The prime selling season is finally here, and while it is easy to allow marketing initiatives to fall to the bottom of your priority list as floor traffic picks up and sales begin to trend upward, now is one of the most critical times of the year to promote your dealership to acquire new customers and earn the service business of last year’s buyers.

In this article, I’ll focus on a pair of proven promotional strategies that will help you capture the attention of shoppers actively searching for your products and services, as well as those passive buyers who need a more direct incentive to service their current mower or finally make that upgrade.

Online coupons

While clipping coupons may once have been strictly within the domain of thrifty homeowners, that dated perception of this proven promotional tactic may cost you.

Research shows that an overwhelming number of consumers take advantage of coupons. According to a recent RetailMeNot poll conducted with the Omnibus Company, 92 percent of consumers surveyed use coupons1. The poll also indicates that printed coupons remain the most widely used type of coupon, but online printable coupon usage has nearly doubled and mobile coupon usage has nearly tripled in the past three years.

It is also notable to mention what respondents to the RetailMeNot poll consider a good deal: 43 percent of consumers surveyed consider discounts of 25 percent or less to be a good deal, while 26 percent believe that 1-24 percent represents a good deal. And according to the survey, if you really want to pique a shopper’s interest, offer a specific dollar amount off of their purchase price.

Offering your customers coupons can be as simple as hitting print on your office computer, but stacks of offers at the point of sale won’t serve to pull in new and repeat customers like the myriad options for digital coupon delivery.


 Figure 1


 Figure 2Email: Coupons delivered via email connect with consumers — 93 percent of the RetailMeNot poll respondents said they were very likely to use coupons or discounts they receive via email. Incorporate a coupon content section into your email newsletter template and craft the perfect subject that will entice recipients to open your email. Need some guidance on writing subject lines that get read?

Check out these tips from the email deliverability experts at Litmus2 and apply your new-found knowledge by testing your next subject line at (see Figure 1).

Website: Visitors to your website should also be able to easily access your current coupons and specials globally on your site navigation. To connect with site visitors immediately, consider creating a callout button graphic to gain exposure for your offers. If you’ve dipped your toe into e-commerce, offer coupon codes in addition to printable coupons that are valid in-store.

Third-party coupon sites & apps: By submitting your deal to third-party vendors like RetailMeNot (see Figure 2), you can extend the reach of your online coupons online and via mobile apps.

Tap into the ‘buy local’ movement by sharing your deals at, and explore the opportunity to share your deals on other sites you may already depend on for ratings and reviews, including Angie’s List and Yelp.

Drive online traffic via direct mail

The average consumer receives 416 marketing emails3 a month, while the average household only receives 50.4 pieces of advertising mail4. Not only is the number of direct-mail pieces consumers receive dwarfed by the volume of marketing messages that pour into their over-taxed email inboxes, but an impressive 79 percent of households actually scan or read these advertising messages, compared with an open rate of 31 percent on email marketing messages from retailers5.

While I’m not suggesting you eschew email marketing from your digital strategy, I am suggesting that you re-think this proven marketing channel as a direct digital driver.


 Figure 3PURLs: PURL are personalized URLs which drive your customers to customized landing pages (e.g. Here’s how it works: A company like Easypurl6 generates individual URLs for each of your prospects. Using variable printing technology, each prospect’s unique PURL is printed on your direct-mail piece (see Figure 3). When your prospects receive the direct-mail piece, they see their very own name printed on it and think, “Wow, they created a page just for me?” Curiosity alone drives them to check out your offer.

QR codes: The usage of QR codes in marketing continues to grow. Research shows that consumers’ adoption of QR codes is trending upward — 19 percent of Americans have scanned a QR code. To put that into perspective, only 11.5 percent of American adults use Twitter, and clever hashtags are pervasive in advertising messaging, so why not try a QR code?

Creatively incorporating QR codes in your direct-mail design can help push warm leads to your online presence via their smartphone to immediately continue the lead nurturing process. Entice your direct-mail recipients to scan the code by teasing them with a trivia question, inviting them to score a special offer (see Figure 4) or to RSVP to an open house.


  Figure 4
 While carving time out of your busy schedule to dedicate to new marketing efforts in the busy season may seem like an impossible feat, investing in these proven promotional tactics can strengthen this selling season and ensure your success for seasons to come. Pick your favorite idea, and get planning!


 Brad Smith is ARI’s Vice President of Product Management. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website ( and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!” Smith holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.


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