DANA POINT, CA – When a Toyota dealership got a trade-in Jeep, Internet director Brad Hampton didn’t do a full-blown email blast announcing its availability to prospective buyers.

But he felt he should do something, because shoppers at a Toyota store aren’t typically looking for a used Jeep on the lot.

So Hampton used the dealership computer system to retrieve the names of 113 customers who previously bought used Jeeps at the store, a part of the Stevenson Auto Group in Lakewood, CO.

“I don’t want to market to 50,000 people to sell one car,” Hampton says. “I want to reach those who likely would be interested in a ’09 Jeep with low mileage.”

Using a dealership customer system to find and then contact particular consumers is a modern, effective way to market, he says at an automotive conference here put on by DealerSocket, a provider of customer-relationship management software.

CRM systems allow dealerships to systematically and specifically market new and used cars to people who are most interested in them.

“You can match a car to people looking for something like it, using buying-history data in the CRM system,” says Brandon Moss, a DealerSocket strategic services consultant. 

There are various ways to slice and dice data, Hampton says. For example, a search can identify customers with growing families. The store then can pitch minivans or cross/utility vehicles to them.

“We can also use our data to target to customers with children who can get a driver’s license because they are nearing the age of 16,” he says.

Using information in the CRM system, a dealership also can craft personalized email offers to owners of vehicles with a high number of repair orders.

“The goal is to get targeted messages out,” Hampton says. “If you have 10 Lexus RXs in your inventory, send customized messages about them to specific people who would be interested.

“If you have vehicles with manual transmissions, market to people who have bought cars with stick shifts.”

Sending content-specific e-brochures to Internet leads produces great results, Hampton adds. “Sending them a default e-response is a cop-out.”

With both dealers and auto makers sending out thousands of emails to customers, there’s a danger of overcommunicating, says Paul Corbett, general sales manager of Infinitiof Gwinnett in Duluth, GA.

That’s why he has changes in mind. “Instead of generic marketing, I’m going to do target marketing,” he says. “You’ve got to have that for people to remember you. We’ve had some emails where we have had zero responses.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com