Good News for CDK and Reynolds Dealers

Yesterday, Authenticom received some good news regarding their lawsuit against CDK and Reynolds over data integration. If you are a CDK or Reynolds dealer who has been unable to implement a dealership newsletter because your DMS provider has been blocking your vendor’s data access – please give us a call!

Here’s  the update:

LA CROSSE, Wisc., July 14,  2017 – Today a federal court granted Authenticom, Inc.’s motion for a preliminary injunction against CDK Global (“CDK”) and The Reynolds and Reynolds Company (“Reynolds”).  The Court held that CDK and Reynolds must “cease blocking Authenticom” from providing “data integration services to dealers who authorize Authenticom to provide this service.”  In so ruling, the Court held that Authenticom had satisfied each element for granting a preliminary injunction, including demonstrating that CDK and Reynolds have likely violated federal antitrust laws.  The Court gave the parties one week to submit proposed language effectuating the Court’s ruling.  The Court’s opinion and order can be found at the following link.  Opinion and Order – Judge Peterson

“The Court’s ruling today is an important step forward not only for Authenticom, but for the automotive industry as a whole.  Authenticom can now meet the data integration needs of both dealers and vendors without the threat of Authenticom’s dealer-authorized data access being blocked,” said Authenticom CEO Steve Cottrell.  “We look forward to providing secure, cost-effective, and reliable data integration services to our existing and future customers, finally without the threat of being hindered by CDK’s and Reynolds’ anticompetitive conduct.”

On May 2, 2017, Authenticom filed an antitrust lawsuit against CDK and Reynolds in federal court in the Western District of Wisconsin.  Then on May 18, 2017, Authenticom filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking an order enjoining CDK and Reynolds from blocking Authenticom’s dealer-authorized data integration services.  An evidentiary hearing was held before the Court on June 26-28, 2017, during which executives from Authenticom, CDK, Reynolds, vendors, and dealers testified.  Expert witnesses on data security and antitrust economics also testified.

In today’s ruling, the Court held that there is sufficient evidence to find “the existence of a per se illegal horizontal conspiracy” between CDK and Reynolds to divide the data integration market and block competitors like Authenticom.  The Court also found that CDK’s and Reynolds’ contracts with dealers and vendors contain provisions that are likely to be found unlawful in restricting free competition in the data integration market.

“We look forward to competing with CDK and Reynolds on a level playing field,” Mr. Cottrell stated.  Authenticom’s DealerVault service allows dealers to have complete control and transparency over how their data is used by vendors.”

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Car Dealerships & Newsletter Contracts

Recently we were contacted by a Chevrolet dealership interested in switching to our automotive newsletter service because they were unhappy with their current provider. They were all ready to make the switch and then realized that instead of being in a month-to-month contract with their old provider, they were actually locked in for another 13 months.

Ugh.

Ask yourself this: If you owned a newsletter company and knew that the car dealerships that you worked with were going to evaluate your newsletter performance:

  • Monthly
  • Annually
  • Once every three years

what do you think would happen?

Do you think you might make sure your newsletter was continually upgraded, optimized for engagement and delivering a high ROI if you knew someone was looking at your performance each month rather than every 3 years?

Here’s the good news if you find yourself in a long-term newsletter contract with a “Goliath vendor” that you would like to get out of. It turns out that the vendor with often let you switch those dollars to another one of their services.

So this story had a happy ending. The client was able to get out of their newsletter commitment and start his month-to-month contract with us.

 

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How My Bad Email Advice Almost Ruined a Friendship

Recently a friend of mine called me to pick my brain on email marketing. His company (not a car dealership) has about 70,000 people on their email list and their open rates were getting steadily worse. In his testing, he saw that a lot of their emails were getting delivered to the spam folder. He was looking for changes they could make to improve their deliverability.

I explained that consistently getting into the inbox was based on their email reputation. Their email reputation is based on their subscriber engagement. In a nutshell, when a company sends out a newsletter, the email providers (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) consider the following behaviors which negatively affect your reputation:

  • High bounces due to bad email addresses
  • High unsubscribe rates
  • Subscribers deleting your newsletter without reading
  • Subscribers marking your newsletter as spam (Your goal should be not more than 1 spam complaint per 1000)
  • Sending to spam traps

The email providers also look at following behaviors which positively affect your reputation:

  • Subscribers opening your newsletter
  • Subscribers clicking on your newsletter
  • Moving your newsletter from the junk folder and marking it as not spam
  • Adding your newsletter address to the safe sender’s list
  • Replying to your newsletter

My advice was for the next month or so, reduce his list to those people who had a history of active engagement, send them content that they were interested in receiving with a strong call to action, and spend some time rebuilding their reputation.

Three weeks pass. My friend calls me back and is ready to kill me for taking my advice.

I’m thinking, how the heck can suggestions for improving your sender reputation be bad?

Here’s how… he said since email providers are measuring active engagement, he delivered just that.

He hired a company out of India to set up 500 US email accounts for each of the main email providers: Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail. He then sent an email to those 1500 accounts, many of which were delivered to the spam folder. Next, he had the company log into each email account, mark those in the junk folder as “this is not spam,” open it from the inbox, and click through on one of the links.

Then he did another email blast. The results were even worse than before.

Insert face palm.

I had to break the bad news that his “genius move” had probably dug a deeper hole for himself.

The reality is that Gmail is better than Santa Claus at REALLY knowing if you’ve been good or bad. You just can’t fake it with the email providers.

Here’s why… while he thought he was getting gold stars for marking the email as not junk, opening and clicking – and normally he would – in this scenario, he didn’t. That’s because the email providers look at the big picture and saw the following:

  • A brand new email that was probably created from some anonymous IP addresses to mask the foreign location (assuming the company didn’t just buy bulk email addresses created with a bot or script).
  • An email account that only had one incoming email. No other history of incoming or outgoing messages.
  • A series of logins from a single IP address to check all of the emails.
  • An extremely high rate of TINS rate. (TINS = This Is Not Spam. A ReturnPath analysis showed that for every 1,000 messages routed to the spam folder, on average there are less than two TINS reports made. Clearly the percentage rate of TINS for my friend were not average.)

Now, compare that scenario with Suzy Jones who uses her Gmail account daily to send and receive emails. Several times a day, Suzy is actively clicking through emails and moving them to folders. And then one day Suzy sees an email in her spam folder and moves it to the inbox. Somewhere in cyberspace, Gmail makes a note that Suzy likes the sender and that content. The sender just got a well-deserved brownie point.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, engagement matters. You want to send automotive newsletters to customers with content that customers actually want. How they engage with your car dealership newsletter (for better or worse) can affect your inbox deliverability, and unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of shortcuts on the path to the inbox.

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How to Track Your Email Campaigns with Google Analytics

Many people don’t realize that there is a lot more to Google Analytics that just tracking your website activity… it’s also a great way to provide you with insights into your email campaigns.

Advanced Segments are GA’s way of dividing up all your visitors into associated groups. You can acquire details telling when visitors were there; what operating system they use on their computer, and so on… You can find the referring URL (what site they came from) or how many times they have visited. However you can do so much better with your data-mining.

GA includes one Advanced Segment (of many) that sorts by referrers or Traffic Sources. This is much more important because these can include Social Media Sites, Direct Traffic, Search Engines (Paid leads, Non-paid Leads, SEO, etc.), as well as email newsletters and email campaigns.

In this instance, the last two are the important ones to us. If you tag an email for a campaign (or within a newsletter), and clients click on links to your site within them, Google Analytics provides you with lots of data. What you need to do is build the URLs that will allow you to code your links with data GA can interpret. It might be complex, but there are automated tools…

There is a Campaign URL builder here that will take you through the whole process in six fairly easy steps so that you can have information laden URLs, for Google Analytics, that identify your newsletter or email campaign specifically. You input the data required (your website URL, campaign source, medium, term, content and Campaign Name) and it will return the URL you can use on that particular email/newsletter. As a sample I created an URL with this data:

http://www.sample.net(your website URL), google.com(campaign source), email(campaign medium), Science Fiction(Campaign Term), Writing for Dummies(campaign content), Profit Making(Campaign Name).

It generated this URL:

http://www.sample.net/?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science%20Fiction&utm_content=Writing%20for%20Dummies&utm_campaign=Profit%20Making

You include it in a hyperlink like this that doesn’t reveal its complexity (hover over it to see it is the same as the link above). Now the client clicking that URL is traceable when they get to your website. GA “knows” what the source of their visit was; where they spent their time; and what they read, purchased, or downloaded can be tracked to show you the success of that particular campaign or newsletter.

Google makes it easy with handy videos explaining strategies and methods. Have a look at this video to see how marketing goals are important waypoints on your road to success.

Yes, it’s a bit time-consuming, and it takes some effort, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be generating useful data filled with sales insights in no time.

 

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Can You Find the Terrible Template?

If you had a salesperson who was going through a sales presentation and constantly choking on step four of that presentation process, you’d find a way to fix the issue in step four. Better presentations lead to more sales, right?

Guess what? There is a point in your automated follow-up process that is choking and affecting not only the remainder of your follow-up campaigns, but possibly your deliverability to your other customers.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say your initial email autoresponder rate generates a 40-50% open rate.

Then time passes.

By day 90 in the follow-up process, your open rates might be down to 18%.

While declining open rates in prospect follow-up campaigns are completely normal, here are two abnormalities you should look for, plus an easy test you should try.

With most CRMs, buried at the bottom of the reports list, is usually an open rate report for your follow-up campaigns. You’ll want to have this information handy and then look at the following:

Scenario #1
Your overall open rates decline from beginning to end, but some emails towards the middle or end, have much higher open rates than earlier emails. Maybe the open rate for email #4 is 21% and the open rate for email #12 is 27%.

The good news: your have emails later in the campaign that are still getting high open rates which means you are still getting good inbox placement with the campaign.
What to fix: This is just like the sales person who is struggling with a step in the sales process, you want to keep trying to improve your weakest link in the sales process. Test changing the subject line on your lower performing emails or see if that email can be eliminated or possibly replaced with a phone call.

Scenario #2
You begin with high open rates but somewhere towards the middle of the campaign, there’s an email with a sharp drop in the open rate and the open rates continue to drop for those emails that follow.

This is kind of like the salesperson who keeps talking in the sales presentation and talks the customer out of sale.

What might be happening in this scenario is that you have too many emails in your follow-up campaign or your subject lines aren’t very engaging. In email terms, there is a point in your campaign when you are losing most of your prospects and as a result, you may have trained the email providers to start sending those remaining emails to the spam can.

Here’s an example:
• Your prospects are opening emails #1 through #12.
• By email #13, many stopped reading or started marking your emails as spam.
• This trained the email providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail that when email #13 arrived, to start sending that email to the spam folder so even those prospects who may have been interested, now don’t know that they have your email which causes a further decline in your open rates.

What to fix: Start with the email in your process where the drop in the open rates begin. In the example above, it is email #13. Consider testing a different email and see if your open rates improve – maybe one with a subject line that asks: Are You Still Interested?

Other options you can do to improve declining open rates:
• Reduce the number of emails in the campaign – especially the type that don’t provide the prospect with any new information such as those with a subject line: Just Checking In.
• Add personalization fields to your subject lines: Pricing Update on [Year] [Make] [Model]
• Check the email in the campaign right before the open rates drop. Make sure there isn’t anything in that email that sends the message: Don’t bother reading any of my future emails.
• Check your email reputation for free at senderscore.org. To do this, you’ll need the ip address that is used to send your prospecting email. (For help finding the ip, here’s a how to article that covers most email providers: http://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/how-to-track-the-original-location-of-an-email-via-its-ip-address/) Having a sender score below the 90′s will impact your inbox deliverability and this can only be improved by better email behavior (sending relevant emails to those people who want them.) The exception to this is if you have a good sending reputation but are on a shared ip with others who do not. In that case you may want to talk to your CRM provider.

And a final, unscientific test, here’s something you can do: set-up an account with Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail. Next, send in a lead to get those new email addresses added to your prospecting follow-up campaign. Log in to those accounts but don’t click on any of the emails that your campaign has sent. Check in after 30, 60 or 90 days and see at what point those emails start getting routed to the spam folder rather than your inbox.

There’s nothing particularly fun about testing and tweaking your follow-up campaigns. But if you consider how many prospects these campaigns touch, improving their effectiveness by just 10% can have a multiplier effect on your sales.

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Is Your Email Mobile Friendly?

E-mail has definitely changed. Here are some of the latest statistics regarding the use of mobile devices:

  • 53% of total email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet in Q3 2014. This is an increase from the 48% percent seen in Q2 2014. – Experian “Quarterly email benchmark report” (Q3 2014)
  • Mobile email opens have grown 180% in three years. From 15% Q1 2011 to 42% in Q1 2014. –Campaign Monitor “Email interaction across mobile and desktop” (Q1 2014)
  • By the end of 2018, worldwide mobile email users are expected to total over 2.2 billion. By this time, 80% of email users are expected to access their email accounts via a mobile device. (Radicati)

Here’s another number for you… 69% of e-mails that aren’t optimized for Smartphones are deleted as soon as they’re opened. Ouch!

Most emails that are deleted due to formatting are usually deleted because the images are too big and clunky; they don’t fit on the screen; they can’t be moved or the whole process is arduous and annoying. That means “Bye-Bye” for your e-mail.

I recently received an email with a .bmp image (Bit-Mapped Picture file) that was in excess of 30 megabytes of data – for an illustration of a man in a tuxedo, sitting at a piano – just three colors (black, white, and skin tone). Why?—because it was a couple of thousand pixels wide and tall, but completely uncompressed. I ended up stopping it because I thought it was broken. I only found out when I got back to my desktop and tried again that it was just too big. Remember, every second it delays a customer, causes a 6-8% drop in the conversion rate.

You could struggle to prepare all your e-mails in an HTML editor, and then add Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) instructions inline to force it to work with most phone mail-readers, and that’s fine if you have an innate talent for programing. Instead there are places you can go to get templates for your e-mails that are already formatted to render perfectly on any mobile device. In the space of about five or ten minutes, you can create a beautiful e-mail in its entirety.

Some free template options include:
https://litmus.com/blog/go-responsive-with-these-7-free-email-templates-from-stamplia
http://www.emailonacid.com/blog/details/C13/600_free_email_templates

EmailonAcid.com also provides a free trial to let you see how exactly how your email will look in 70+ email clients and mobile devices so you can fix any rendering issues BEFORE you hit send.

It really is amazing how simple it is to create a complete e-mail that you can confidently sent out, knowing that everyone will be able to see it, read it and not delete it due to formatting issues. If you’re not using a responsive design in your emails, why not give it a test for your next campaign and see how it performs?

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Announcing Automotive Newsletter Custom Domain Microsites (say that 3 times fast)

We are excited to announce that once again, 1to1 News, LLC is leading the way in automotive newsletter innovations with our latest new feature – custom domain microsites.

Previously when we created newsletter content for our clients, we built it on a microsite to match the client’s main website. All of these microsites were hosted on individual dealer subdomains at 1to1 News. While that made it easier for our programming and tracking, it didn’t help dealers with their SEO.

Now that has all changed.

If your main website is MainMotors.com – your newsletter content will still be on a custom microsite that matches MainMotors.com, but now it will be hosted on your own custom domain such as MainMotorsNews.com. You get all of the SEO benefits without having to modify your main site.

This one little change required a really big change in all of our programming and tracking but we think it is worth it. In fact, we’ve been doing the happy dance all week.

Want to see a demo of this ground-breaking, automotive newsletter? Just give us a call at (800) 879-8870.

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention, Responsive automotive newsletters, Social Media and Newsletters | Comments Off

Awful Email Stats that No Marketer Wants to See

Most dealerships are actively trying to collect email addresses from their prospects and customers because email marketing continues to be one of the most cost-effective marketing options there is.

But as your email list grows, it is important to know that bigger isn’t better.

In Acxiom’s report: “Email Marketing and Mobile Devices: A Survey of Consumer Habits and Perceptions – 2013,” they found:

- Nearly 49% of respondents have email accounts for messages they rarely intend to open.

- 38% have two personal email accounts

- 21% have three accounts

You obviously want to be offering email content that justifies people giving you their primary email address, but even then, as your list grows your open rates will decrease as you inevitably add inactive email addresses. While having inactive email accounts on your list wasn’t a big deal 10 years ago, now it is a game changer. These days you need to be actively managing your email list.

Email companies such as Yahoo, Gmail, etc., are looking at your list’s engagement rate when trying to determine whether or not to deliver your email to the inbox or the spam folder. If people aren’t opening and clicking on your email, you may find your emails getting delivered to the spam folder rather than the inbox.

Here’s an example of the impact cleaning out inactive subscribers can have.

We had a newsletter client with a low open rate. Typically, we like to see an open rate of at least 25%. We did a list analysis of their database which had about 13,000 contacts. It turned out that almost a third of the list were prospects (we usually email just customers, not prospects). The prospects on the list were pretty easy to identify, not just because they were missing a customer number, etc., but because their open rate was so low.

We sent a re-engagement email to the inactive prospects and moved the non-responders off the list. Here’s a comparison of what happened.

- Initially emailed 13178 newsletters with 1976 unique opens which is a 15% open rate.

- After removing the inactive prospects, we emailed 9548 newsletters with 2504 unique opens which is a 26% open rate.

The important metric in this example is not just that the open rate went up, but that the number of actual opens increased by more than 500 while sending 3630 fewer emails. As an added bonus, the client also reduced their newsletter fee since we bill by the number of emails sent.

Here are a few implementation ideas:

1. Keep prospecting emails in your prospecting campaigns.

2. Keep customer emails in your customer retention / newsletter campaigns.

3. For both lists, if a person hasn’t opened an email in 6 months, they probably are not going to. Try sending a re-engagement campaign or contact them by phone for an updated email address and if that doesn’t work, move them off the list.

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Are You Ignoring this Godzilla-Sized Email Trend?

Mobile continues to take over the world. Here are some recent stats on email marketing and how you can apply them to improve your marketing results.

Litmus.com (Link: https://litmus.com/blog/have-webmail-users-gone-mobile/webmail-email-market-share-infographic) reported that the percentage of emails opened on a mobile device reached a new high of 51% last year. For webmail users such as Aol, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, the mobile open rate bumps to 61%.

Have you looked at how your emails render on a smart phone? How much do people have to manipulate your content to be able to easily read it?

A study from Acxiom last year analyzed what people do if an email doesn’t look good on their phone:

- 70% delete it

- 28% use a computer

- 16% unsubscribe

- 9% try to read it

If you’re not taking advantage of a responsive design that displays your content based on the device it is being viewed on, you’re hurting your results.

Last year we switched our newsletter format to a responsive design. This means if you look at the newsletter on a desktop, you’ll see a two-column version. If you look at it on a smartphone, the left column is automatically suppressed so only the column with the stories displays which makes it much easier to read on a mobile device. Our internal study showed the average click through rate for the non-responsive design was 28.5% versus 31.3% for the responsive design.

How does that number translate into customers?

If you email 5000 newsletters and have a 25% open rate, the responsive design is helping an additional 35 people click through which can add up over time.

Some resources to help you with mobile email design:

1. See how your email looks on different devices

http://litmus.com/

http://emailonacid.com

2. How-To Guide to Responsive Email Design:

https://litmus.com/blog/the-how-to-guide-to-responsive-email-design-infographic

3. Free email templates:

http://www.emailonacid.com/blog/details/C13/600_free_email_templates

4. Responsive Email Design

http://www.campaignmonitor.com/guides/mobile/

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention, Responsive automotive newsletters, Social Media and Newsletters | Comments Off

5 Ways to Personalize Your Car Dealership Email Marketing

Relevance is one of the key reasons people subscribe to emails and automotive newsletters. They want information that is going to be specific to them and their situation. If you are sending mass email blasts to everyone about the same thing, then check out these ways to get a little more personal:

1. Personalize subject lines with their name. This is an easy one. Personalized subject lines generally deliver higher open rates.

2. Personalize based on their vehicle. Truck month tips can go to truck owners. Summer traveling tips with kids could go to minivan owners. You probably won’t have time to come up with custom content for each type of vehicle, each month – but even if you do it once or twice a year, it can make a nice impression.

3. Personalize by date. If they bought a car from you, you have their birthdate so why not send a birthday email? You also have the date of their vehicle purchase which could make for a fun car birthday email: “Happy 1st Birthday to Your Honda Accord!”

4. Personalize by contract. Is their lease expiring? Warranty expiring? These emails can let them know what their options are.

5. Personalize by activity. Has it been over a year since their last vehicle service? Why not send a special offer with a “We Miss You Message.” Or, if they’ve never missed an oil change, how about a thank you with a free car wash offer?

What ways are you personalizing your emails?

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