BMW: Luxury Auto, Meet DRM

BMW is kicking the tires on a direct response campaign targeting luxury auto enthusiasts, turning to an often undervalued marketing platform as a means to entice Mercedes, Volvo and Audi drivers to come in for a test drive.

In a bid to draw likely buyers to their local BMW dealership, last week the New Orleans-based DRM firm Dukky began sending out some 25,000 mailers to premium vehicle owners in the Tri-State (New York-New Jersey-Connecticut) area. Upon registering for a test drive, the recipients of the direct mail material are presented with a $25 American Express gas card.

Participating consumers are directed to visit a unique URL, which directs them to a personalized activation site powered by Dukky. Once the user has registered for a BMW test drive, he or she can share the promotion via email or social networking sites. The digital activity feeds into a dashboard which reports back to the client in real time, thereby creating a database of purchase intent and user feedback.

Although the DRM strategy may seem a bit low rent for the likes of BMW, there are a number of advantages to targeting the mailbox. “BMW for years has been all about acquisitions, whether you’re talking email lists or traditional mailing lists,” said Scott Couvillon, chief marketing officer, Dukky. “By its very nature, direct mail is much more impactful than even the greatest email because it’s there and it’s tangible. Then you take the next step with the PURL and you’re getting feedback on an individual consumer level.”

Couvillon added that Dukky’s ability to track the target’s subsequent interaction with the material, from signing on for a test drive to alerting friends to the offer on his or her Faceboook page, is what separates the initiative from the shills for garage door openers and pizza chains that clog the mails.

“We have no interest in dethroning Valpak,” Couvillon said. “Our technology allows a highly respected brand like BMW align itself with what is essentially an interactive coupon.”

Consumers were also targeted by the specific brand of vehicle they currently own, said Erik Wennerod, vp, director of CRM at Dotglu, the interactive unit of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners. “Quite frankly, we wanted to go after each one of the 25,000 competitive vehicle owners with a message that was targeted to their demonstrated preference,” Wennerod said. “So for the Volvo owners, we went after them with a safety message. With Audi, it was tilted toward performance. With Mercedes, it was all about luxury.”

The gas card works as an incentive to get prospective clients deeper into the purchasing funnel, down past the initial part of the decision-making process where people start talking themselves out of a buy. “For better or worse, they start to add practical reasons for not buying,” Wennerod said. “One of the advantages BMW has is, once you drive one, there’s a much more emotional experience that takes place. If we can get them to that step, the car takes care of the rest.”

Wennerod expects activations to begin later this week, as the first recipients of the mailer begin making the jump to the online site. “One of the things we love about this is it’s essentially a turnkey approach,” Wennerod said. “Dukky was able to turn this around very quickly, from the DRM piece to getting the microsite online. It all went live literally just a few days before Labor Day, so we’re hoping to start getting the first round of feedback toward the middle of the week.”

While the typical return on direct mail is less than 2 percent, Dukky’s marriage of DRM, online and social media allows the company to guarantee returns of 8 percent. And in the case of the BMW promotion, Dotglu’s exposure is minimal. “It’s a variable cost deal,” said Wennerod. “We only pay for the people who take the test drive. That’s a lot of upside.”

Nielsen Business Media