By Graham Anderson
As the outdoor power equipment industry continues to change, many dealerships are struggling to keep up with the continued innovation. From battery-powered handheld tools to the Internet of Things to the increased versatility of power equipment, there are a few new trends hitting the market in 2019 that will change the shape of the industry. For dealers to be successful in the long run, they must have the right strategy both inside the store and when it comes to their customer engagement strategy.
It’s no longer enough to simply send e-mail blast newsletters out to your customers or to rely on an ad in a local paper for new consumers. Texting has now become the go-to channel for forward-thinking businesses to communicate directly with consumers. More than 89 percent of today’s consumers prefer texting with a vendor than to speak with them over the phone. As small businesses throughout all industries are turning to text-message marketing for a total transformation of consumer engagement, OPE dealers are joining the ranks.
Texting is making it easier for your dealership to grow and compete in today’s marketplace by:
Connecting with consumers where they prefer
Today’s consumers spend an incredible amount of time on their smartphones, and very little of this time is spent actually talking on the phone. Text messaging is now the preferred channel for direct-to-consumer marketing, with 9 out of 10 consumers wanting to use texts to talk with vendors. Additionally, as equipment buyers as a whole continue to trend younger (Millennials account for around 25 percent of all OPE purchases) OPE businesses should look for new ways to engage these consumers directly. Millennials prefer text messages to e-mails or phone calls, and as dealers look for new ways to grow market share they should try to target this lucrative audience where they prefer.
Engaging in a two-way conversation, not just blasting messages
As mentioned, the age of the generic e-mail blast is over. Today’s consumers crave personalization and customization in every single message they receive. Even one-off e-mails and phone calls can result in a spam folder or, worse yet, in a voicemail that is immediately deleted. In order to ensure a response and create a two-way conversation with a consumer, OPE dealerships must rely on channels that are actually opened and read. Consumers are 7x more likely to text a vendor back after receiving a text than they are to call back after receiving a voicemail. Break through the traditional marketing noise and deliver personalized communications with text messaging.
Speeding up the outdoor power equipment buying cycle
Outdoor power equipment is an industry that requires some detailed research and education, which means that buying cycles aren’t always the fastest. It’s also not uncommon for consumers to shop around at various dealers before they find one they prefer. Text messages can help speed up the OPE buying cycle by showcasing the must-know facts about a particular product right to a consumers smartphone. Approximately 95 percent of all text messages are read within three minutes of receipt. By leveraging text messaging in place of, say, e-mail communications, your team can connect with customers faster to speed up this buying process.
Increasing your dealership’s digital presence through reviews
While dealerships of previous generations might have been able to rely on word-of-mouth and traditional marketing alone, today’s OPE businesses aren’t as lucky. Modern dealerships must have some sort of online presence to promote and grow their business. For many dealers, this presence hinges on online consumer reviews. Online reviews are the modern word-of-mouth marketing, with more than 81 percent of consumers looking to reviews before they make a purchase. While positive reviews require amazing customer service, your dealership can proactively increase incoming reviews by texting consumers directly with review links.
Delivering amazing experiences that foster repeat customers
It’s no secret that today’s consumers demand an amazing customer experience from whomever they are doing business with. It’s the job of OPE companies to identify areas of poor customer service and take proactive steps to fill these gaps, which is where text messaging can come into play. Texting consumers can effectively eliminate any consumer waiting or uncertainty and deliver answers in real time. These experiences are what foster new 5-star reviews from customers, which can bring in new consumers and help build relationships with your current loyal audience.
As the OPE industry as a whole becomes more innovative, mobile, and focused on the customer, a robust text message strategy can ensure your organization is top-of-mind for customers, and ahead of the competition.
Graham Anderson is a co-founder and the chief marketing officer of Kenect, a business texting and reputation management platform built by dealers for dealers. The Kenect platform can convert a dealership’s existing phone line to make it text-enabled, and helps the dealership to improve customer experience, save time, receive more inbound leads, and generate online reviews. For more information, visit www.kenect.com.