For Ford dealer Ryan Kirkpatrick, 140 simple characters are rescuing potential sales that otherwise might have gone elsewhere.
Three times a month since April 2013, Kirkpatrick's Ryan Ford store in Sealy, Texas, has sent out short e-mail blasts to its so-called "lost" customers, people who shopped for new or used vehicles but didn't buy. They carry direct subject lines such as "Do you want to reprice?" and contain no more than 140 characters.
The first time the dealership sent one of the blasts, it went to about 6,000 customers. About 300 people opened the e-mail, and 10 people bought cars. The best result has been 14 sales from a single e-mail blast to about 3,000 shoppers. Today the store sends the blasts out to about 1,200 customers each time.
The beauty of the approach? It's basically free, Kirkpatrick said.
"These were people we thought we'd never, ever sell them a vehicle," said Kirkpatrick, who bought the Ford store just outside of Houston in 2006. "It kind of blew our minds. It was eye opening for us."
The idea for the blasts originated with Ford Motor Co.'s digital team that trains dealerships to use technology more effectively, Kirkpatrick said. People land on a lost-customer list after the dealership makes five unsuccessful attempts to contact them. Ryan Ford had been reaching out to these customers prior to last April, but previous messages were much longer.