DEARBORN - Ford Export and Growth’s (E&G) e-mail capture program is not only improving customers’ ownership experience, it’s strengthening their relationship with their dealer.
Because the cost of direct mail can be prohibitively expensive – anywhere from U.S.50 cents to $5 or more for each piece of mail sent – E&G developed the Owner Connect e-mail initiative, in which dealers record customers’ e-mail addresses at the time of sale. Customers get a welcome message, an anniversary e-mail and biannual newsletters. Later, they receive an incentive offer to purchase a new vehicle. Ford Middle East National Sales Manager Ramzy Hadi calls the program a vital piece of customer relationship management, and says it’s part of a process to make customers feel good about their purchase.
“This obviously helps us in keeping the communication going with our customers to provide them with vital information on the after-sales service of their vehicles and offers and promotions they might benefit from,” Hadi says. “Also, as a manufacturer, we are able to talk to our customers and seek their opinions and requirements from us as well as the dealers in their region.”
The majority of dealers have had great success at collecting valid e-mail address, with success rates reaching as high as 100 percent some months. But those addresses lose their value if the customers don’t read the e-mails. And that, says Rebecca Cabrera, Customer Relationship Management marketing manager, is where this program truly shines. “Our open rates are very high, greater than 20 percent, and our click-through rates are also high, sometimes approaching 40 percent.”
Across all industries in North America, e-mail click-through rates average 6.2 percent.
Cabrera says the data-tracking system E&G uses enables the organization to capture a host of information, including the type of device customers are using and how long they view the information. “What we’ve learned prompted us to design our e-mails differently,” she says. “We now design them with smart phones or other mobile devices in mind, because that’s what most of our customers are using.”
The Owner Connect program is running in three countries in Ford Middle East along with Puerto Rico and South Korea. It will soon add four countries in the Caribbean and Central America as well as Angola and Nigeria, countries with a high percentage of smart phone users.
While the program will expand into still more countries over time, Cabrera says they don’t expect a corresponding increase in the number of e-mails sent. “We don’t want to over-communicate,” she says. “Our opt-out rates are very low, which shows the customers find what they’re receiving to be valuable.”