With over 35,000 used and new car dealerships in the United States, staying ahead of the pack has never been harder.

It’s no surprise, then, that dealers keep looking for new ways to market their inventory. In most cases, they rely on social media promotions and automated digital marketing. Still, these solutions require time — and a generous budget.

If you’re looking for a more affordable way to drive sales, consider SMS marketing. Remember, 96% of adults in the U.S. own a mobile device of some sort. This is a huge marketing opportunity, as long as you know how to use it.

What do we mean by that? Simple: if your customers opt-in to hearing from you, you need to provide them with real value. Here are some examples of SMS marketing that will let you do that.

1. Know Your Codes

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to decide when you’ll use short and long code numbers. The former have fewer digits, which makes them great for bulk texting. That said, customers can’t reply to them.

Long code numbers aren’t automated, which makes them less likely to appear as spam. They also allow you to include images and other multimedia files. Use these if you want to engage with your customers through polls or questions.

2. Tease Upcoming Sales

Planning a flash sale? Make sure to let your SMS audience know about it ahead of time. You can also attach a flyer or image of the vehicles on sale to give your customers a glimpse of what they can expect.

For best results, offer to remind your customers about the sale at a later date. To do that, add a link to your site stating “Click here for a reminder!” Add anyone who clicks the link to a list and remind them closer to the sale.

3. Personalize Your Messages

If you need to remind your customers about their appointments, how do you do it? Chances are, you use email or re-targeted advertising. Well, what if we told you that doing the same thing via SMS is far more effective?

The reason is simple: most people check their texts more than email. That said, this method only works with personalized messages. Consider creating several SMS templates and sending them to specific shoppers when necessary.

4. Conduct Surveys

To identify your target audience, try learning more about your existing customers. This information allows you to create accurate buyer personas, which helps you find people in the same category.

Customer surveys can be a big help in this regard. That said, keep the questions short and don’t send them out too often. The less your customers have to work to help you, the more likely they are to do it.

5. Use Interactive Content

Speaking of customer surveys, they aren’t the only type of interactive content you can use. For example, polls and quizzes tick most of the same boxes. They’re all more likely to generate conversions than the standard texts.

The main difference is that polls and quizzes focus on your customers, not you. With a survey, you’re asking the customer for serious feedback. Meanwhile, a quiz is just a fun and playful way to engage with your audience.

6. Provide Exclusive Offers

This should go without saying, but exclusive offers are still the best way to drive your SMS sales. This includes SMS-only discounts and promotions. Keep in mind that 93% of U.S. consumers use a discount code at least once a year.

Resist the temptation to reuse these offers anywhere else. As long as they’re only available via SMS, your audience will have a reason to stay on your subscriber list. Make sure to send these offers to both your past and present customers.

7. Upsell Other Vehicles

When someone makes a purchase, you should do your best to generate more revenue from them. According to marketing metrics, the chances of selling to existing customers is 60-70%. This is a far cry from 5-20% for new prospects.

One way to do this is to recommend future products to anyone who buys a vehicle from you. To know what to recommend, look at what they’ve bought so far. Your customer list should tell you all you need to know.

8. Send Order Confirmations

Order confirmations are another tool that’s more suited to SMS than email. Again, the average person gets 121 emails per day. Though many of them provide some value — and some head straight to the spam folder — that’s still a lot.

The good news: SMS is a solid alternative here as well. For one thing, this method makes it easier for customers to track their order. This is particularly true if you send texts at each stage (shipped, with courier, delivered).

9. Set Up an Infoline

Offers are nice, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your marketing strategy. Sometimes, it pays to provide value to customers at no extra cost. For instance, you can use an infoline to send relevant tips to your subscribers.

When does this help you? Well, let’s say many of your prospects walk through your dealership during after hours. If they want more details about a vehicle, they could text the stock number and receive an automated reply with specifications.

Other Effective Ways to Drive Sales

When implemented well, SMS marketing is a useful strategy for car dealerships. In fact, most car dealership owners aren’t aware of the potential benefits.

For starters, this strategy helps you save time and increase productivity. If you want to call 50 customers, you’ll need approximately 2-3 hours to do it. With the right preparation, texting the same number of customers takes 2-3 minutes.

Texts also build customer loyalty. According to a Mobile Marketing Association survey, 23% of people show marketing texts to friends. Even a simple thank you message can help you drive sales by letting the customers know they’re valued.

Of course, SMS marketing tools should only be a part of your overall strategy. For example, they aren’t much help in brand building or launching advertising campaigns. For that, you should turn to social media marketing.