Soon there could be no escape from already near ubiquitous car advertising if manufacturers are to take the advice of IT analysts at GartnerG2. In a recent report it encourages car makers to use text messaging to mobile phones to push both sales and aftersales services.
"SMS offers car manufacturers and dealers a new way of interacting with their customers," explain the report's authors Daren Siddall and Michael Dornan.
They suggest two main ways in which manufacturers can leverage this form of communication. Firstly at the presales stage, they advise informing customers about offers, test drive opportunities and, in the nearly-new car market, models that fit their needs and budget. Secondly the report stresses the importance of reminding customers about aftersales services and accessories.
Siddall and Dornan think that in the presales market it is customers for nearly-new cars who will respond to text messages. "In Europe the audience most likely to interact via SMS at the presales stage is made up of people under 35," they explain, and these customers are more likely to go for nearly new cars, than brand new models.
Aftersales is perhaps the area where the most benefit can be seen from using SMS messaging techniques. The study cites the example of Hexagon, a BMW dealership in North London, which uses texts to remind customers of the need to book in for a service; it has a 50 percent success rate with this method. It also uses texts to get customers' authorisation for work that needs to be done.
This method has a number of benefits, including cost cutting on advertising and mailouts to existing customers about aftersales care, as well as fostering a better relationship with customers and building up a database of mobile phone numbers.
But the report does warn that manufacturers must keep a tight rein on dealers as "[text] campaigns could potentially be damaging to the card brand if not conducted in a consistent manner".
So far both Ford and Daimler/Chrysler have used text messaging as part of marketing campaigns for the Fusion and Smart cars respectively.