How This Digital Marketing Director Increased Engagement with Messaging

The ability to text and chat one on one allows for a more transparent buying and fixed operations process, which can increase consumer engagement when used correctly. That’s exactly what Apple Automotive has done with their approach to Contact At Once! messaging (increasing their text conversations by 13%).

Apple Automotive, a group with over 12 brands and 10 stores located throughout York County, Pennsylvania, operates in a distinctly different culture: The dealership teams earn each customer interaction and transaction through honesty and transparency. We talked to Maria Fry, Director of Digital Marketing Operations for the Apple Automotive Group, who says that the Contact At Once! messaging program has been a great fit for their culture.

“At Apple Automotive, we feel it’s important to create a ‘warm and fuzzy’ experience,” explains Fry. “Messaging gives us the ability to reach auto shoppers on their terms, and that’s an important start to the whole experience. By using Contact At Once! and bringing consumer awareness to this option, we have seen an increase in engagement at each of our stores.”

Below we dig more into the benefits they’ve seen and how they have increased use by making texting part of their strategy.

Q: Why is messaging like text and chat an important communication option to offer?

Maria Fry: It’s really about adding another option for shoppers to connect from their desktop or smartphone. With CAO! messaging, consumers can initiate conversations with us and start talking about car sales in a way that feels less intrusive … and more like chatting with a friend.

In addition, we’re able to tie several of our customer-facing touchpoints to CAO!, helping us reach more people, manage those engagements and keep track of them at each store. Along with text and chat on our sites, we’ve added extensions in Google AdWords for texting and integrated Facebook Messenger so those conversations come through the same CAO! platform.

Q: What do you think is important to see good results from messaging? What are some of the things your team has done beyond offering the option everywhere (which is a great first step!)?

MF: If you want to grow consumer awareness and use, you have to tell people that they have the ability to chat. We do that in a variety of ways across social media and ads.

For example, we promote CAO! messaging with our ‘Warm and Fuzzy’ text campaign, which has been running for about six months and includes the placement of a ‘Text 2 Chat’ ad at the top of each store’s inventory website page. It was important for us to be clear what the next step was (texting), so we kept the ad design clean, used a message button, made each store’s phone number very large, and we used patriotic colors to help make the ad stand out on each dealer’s independent website.

We also use website rotators and banners and traditional advertising—like our electronic billboards in each store’s auto park—to promote the ability to text with us. We even share information on our social media platforms about all the ways consumers can message with us, and I feel that helps with engagement. Messaging interactions also increased after some design changes to our websites, which made them cleaner and easier to use (so the option to chat or text was easier to see).

Q: What kind of results have you seen that you can attribute to messaging?

MF: We are more of a rural town, but month-to-month engagement numbers are going up, so we know messaging is gaining more ground! Over the course of the year, engagement and interactions are up, too. Other positive outcomes of messaging include easing the buying process for shoppers. People are less willing to fill out forms, so with messaging we’re able to capture information without forms.

Because Apple Automotive dedicated a text number to their advertising campaign, we are able to track an increase in consumer engagement attributable to those efforts: Their group text conversations are up by 13% over the last few months. The more conversations you have, the more opportunities you can capture to turn into leads and cars sold!