Progress Toward Multi-Channel Communications in the Automotive Sector Remains Sluggish


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Navigator Customer Management’s 2008 report on marketing in the UK automotive sector found that only 23% of brands are offering customers and prospects comprehensive multi-channel communications (i.e. post, phone, web and email). Though this marks a slight improvement from a figure of 20% in 2007, investment in the area is still modest compared to the vast sums invested in above-the-line advertising.

The benefits of coherent multi-channel communications have become clear over the past decade. According to Rob Denton, Managing Director of Navigator Customer Management, ‘sales leads can be better managed, revived or reasons for non-closure of sales researched, and this invaluable data reprocessed into overall strategy development. All this makes a real commercial difference.’

As the most expensive purchase (aside from property) that most customers make, it is perplexing that companies in the sector are not making more of an effort to maintain a range of communication channels. This is especially the case when an economic slowdown makes retention of existing customers ever more important.

Although the report located some good practice, for example in 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 one third of automotive manufacturers still have no facility for prospective customers to book a test drive through their website.

In a 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 advertisements halved from 22% to 11% in the space of a year. This suggests that many manufacturers are failing to fully integrate new media channels (particularly attractive to younger consumers) 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.


1. To understand the true picture of multi-channel communication in
the UK automotive market, Navigator commissioned independent
research into the subject. The activities of 46 marques were
analysed during the period April-May 2007, along with those of 42
top dealerships. In particular, the study examined the channels
of communication offered by the company’s website, as well as
response channels promoted through the company’s above-the-line
advertising campaigns.
2. For detailed results from ‘Choice Contact: Multi-Channel Marketing
in the UK Automotive Sector’, contact Jon Sweeney, Sales Director,
Navigator Customer Management ([email protected]).

About Navigator Customer Management:

Navigator Customer Management is a relationship marketing agency providing a full range of interactive customer management services across key channels – voice, mail, Internet, live, email and text. Founded in 1991, Navigator completed a management buyout in 2007 from MoonRiver Group moving the company into a new phase as a successful independent and one of the fastest growing contact centre organisations within the UK. Navigator’s objective is to help organisations understand the reality of customer relationships and to build strategies that keep valuable customers and increase their value to the company.

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