AutoNation’s mailings are customized with a wide range of variables. Some examples include the type of service due, whether the service is a major or minor maintenance, the estimated date service is due, the estimated mileage on the customer’s vehicle and, of course, key customer details such as name and customer number.
AutoNation also uses variable copy, which is determined by a number of different factors. “It can be very specific to the store, like hours of operation,” explains Zientarski. “We also have segmentation that triggers various copy formats based on whether the customer is in warranty or out of warranty.”
In all of its marketing pieces, AutoNation gives customers the opportunity to update their profiles or to opt out if they no longer own an AutoNation vehicle.
A Well-oiled Machine
If Zientarski is the driver of AutoNation’s marketing efforts, then agency DME might best be described as the program’s engine. Before AutoNation’s new service marketing program was launched, DME assembled many of the pieces needed to make it operational; for example, libraries of variable content, including individual dealership and manufacturer information, offers and art. Among other things, DME also is responsible for converting AutoNation’s raw customer data into the usable intelligence that fuels the company’s marketing.
The basic workflow for AutoNation’s service marketing program is:
• AutoNation dealerships collect transactional data, including sales, service, finance and insurance information, and enter it into the dealer management system.
• Each night, AutoNation extracts incremental changes to that data and sends the information to DME.
• DME receives the data and subjects it to address standardization and other data hygiene procedures.
• Using an array of proprietary models, DME identifies predictive patterns that determine the who, what, where, when and how of AutoNation’s customer communications.
• DME generates lists that include customer contact details and the variable content that corresponds to each customer.
• The agency uses specialized software to bring together the customer information and creative content.
• One-to-one pieces are generated and sent to the customer.