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HR Owen: Email, events and enticing the 21st-century customer

The customer base is analysed and segmented to single out the best calls to communication – or sales opportunities.  For example, this could be a Ferrari customer to whom HR Owen has missed an opportunity to sell within the past 18 months.

“The email might only go out to 35-40 people, but the value of our cars means just one sale is worth a lot of money and therefore the email is worth sending,” said Harris.

HR Owen’s analysis of response rates showed that emails from a staff member’s address delivered an open rate 5% greater than those from an ‘’ address.

The group employs an unnamed, long-standing motor industry writer to compose its customer communications to ensure the tone is consistent and appealing.

“His tone and language is rich enough, but not overly complex or clever and we don’t try to show off our products. It’s not all luxury, luxury because this is irrelevant. Our message is about the credibility of our cars, respectful and to the point, and the quality of what we offer,” Harris said.

A key part of HR Owen’s customer contact plan is events, opportunities for customers to meet at dealerships or major events such as the recent Geneva Motor Show. The group hosted more than 200 events in 2013, twice as many as in 2012. It plans to hold the same number this year.

To mark Maserati’s centenary, it held a party at Maserati London in March, with new and classic models on display. It also organised a ‘beer and Bugattis’ party at Jack Barclay in London with six Veyrons on display (total value: £20m).

At the opening of Lamborghini Pangbourne, owners were invited to bring their cars.

“There was Italian food, prosecco, light music, mood lighting, and conversation among like-minded, wealthy people. There were no sheets whipped off a new car, no boring speeches,” said Harris.


‘Attention to detail drives up our email open rates’

A sophisticated email marketing system called Marketo automatically records RSVPs and informs staff at the event who to expect. They then check attendees off on arrival. Emails are sent the following day to acknowledge attendance, but also to those that couldn’t come: “Sorry you couldn’t make it, here are some pictures, if you would like us to call you…”

In its Geneva Motor Show email, HR Owen offered to arrange manufacturer stand passes for 300 customers (who paid their own expenses). Every evening it was an HR Owen staff member’s job to load the names of those that attended into the contact system, which would trigger “great to see you” emails.

“The attention to detail drives up our open rates,” Harris said. The group set an open rate target of 40%. The actual figure was 47% for the 177 email campaigns.

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