SMS Use Down Among Auto Brands, Survey Finds

Navigator Customer Managements 2008 report on marketing in the UK automotive sector has revealed that only 23% of brands are offering customers and prospects comprehensive multichannel communications via the post, phone, web and email. Though this marks a slight improvement from a figure of 20% in 2007, Navigator notes that investment in the area is still modest compared to the vast sums invested in above-the-line advertising.
To compile the survey, Choice Contact: Multi-Channel Marketing in the UK Automotive Sector, Navigator commissioned independent research which looked at the activities of 46 automotive brands analysed during the period April-May 2008, along with those of 42 top dealerships. In particular, the study examined the channels of communication offered by the companys website, as well as response channels promoted through the companys above-the-line advertising campaigns.
Although the report uncovered some good practice, such as the 11% of firms that display phone, web and SMS contacts in their advertising campaigns, it also uncovered plenty of examples of bad practice. Astonishingly, a quarter of car advertisements provide no telephone number for prospective customers to ring, and a third of automotive marques do not offer the capability to book a test drive through their website.
In another surprising trend, the proportion of manufacturers displaying a contact email address on their website dropped from 44% in 2007 to 15% in 2008, and the amount of brands that offered an SMS response in their print ads halved from 22% to 11% in the space of a year. This suggests, says Navigator, that many manufacturers are failing to fully integrate new media channels into their existing communications facilities.
On the positive side, engagement with existing customers is improving more rapidly. Owners clubs are now clearly accessible on the website in 26% of cases (up from 15% the previous year) and 39% of marques now offer a newsletter or e-bulletin. Also, 57% of manufacturer websites now offer a feedback/enquiry form, an increase from 27% in 2007.