Automotive email marketing doesn’t get the credit it deserves, and mostly, that’s because it is wildly underutilized or done poorly. So we’ve decided to help champion the cause of automotive email marketing. Lackluster click through rate (CTR)? Embarrassing bounce rate? Pitiful ROI? Those a problems of the past. Here are some of the best automotive email marketing strategies out there to revitalize your email campaigns.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #1: Gather Customer/ Lead Emails
Now, we’re not usually the ones to say ‘slow down,’ ‘hold up,’ or ‘take it easy,’ but we have to say it here. As much as we love automotive email marketing, there is an essential step that cannot be skipped: gathering emails. It’s no use having great emails if you don’t actually have people to send them to. That’s a fact. You can do all the amazing content creation and promotion brainstorming you want – it’ll all be useless if your email list isn’t large enough to bear fruit.
Gathering emails can be pretty easy for dealerships, due in large part to the fact that dealers have a variety of different departments, most of them customer-facing. Think of every place in which customers come into contact with the dealership, and implement email gathering strategies at those points. This can be past customers, at parts and service, at community events, prior to a test-drive, on your blog, etc. If you set up lead capture forms on your website, you can gather lead emails that can be used as a part of your automotive email marketing strategy. Customer emails can be gathered at the point of sale in your forms. However you implement your email-gathering strategies, you should have a very functional email list relatively quickly. From there on, the real fun can begin as you develop your automotive email marketing strategy.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #2: Segmented Lists
You’ve just gone through all the trouble of gathering emails, and you have new ones coming in all the time from the customer touchpoints you targeted. That’s the first major step in a good automotive email marketing campaign. But don’t just dump them all into one giant email list and blast them with content.
Keeping tabs on where you received an email from will allow you to create segments of your mass email list. This process of keeping track is called attribution and it is essential to understanding not only where your leads are coming from, but which touchpoints are working. Once you understand where you received an email, you can more accurately target leads and customers with relevant materials and promotions – increasing your email open and CTR. You also decrease unsubscribe rates and bounce rates by avoiding the problems of irrelevant messaging. For example: accidentally sending someone who has just bought a car an email with information about trade-ins. All this might seem to be a bit nit-picky and fussy, but segmenting pays off. And we really mean it when we say ‘pays.’ Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Segmented lists help you personalize your content in one of the easiest and least intrusive ways, and is one of the best possible ways to get the most from the exceptional automotive marketing content you are offering, which just happens to be at the center of our next automotive email marketing strategy.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #3: Provide Useful Content
Delivering useful content is our favorite aspect of automotive email marketing. However, many dealerships and businesses in general aren’t sure what useful content is. This can include educational content, actionable content, promotions, and more. This is one of the most effective automotive email marketing strategies we can possibly recommend. Shoppers crave information, whether it’s about the safety features of a car they’ve been admiring or when they should actually change their car air filters. Providing information and education is always a good automotive email marketing strategy.
Providing customers with information they need – or didn’t even know they needed – builds trust, credibility, authority, and a sense of connection. Now that we’ve established the importance of good content, we can focus on the email part. Email takes good content and puts it right in front of your audience, so you can get the maximum effect from your automotive email marketing strategy. This in turn, can bolster your CTR and drive traffic to your dealership website. A CTR boost happens quickly with good content, because the promise of useful information drives clicks.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #4: Personalize Your Emails
We’ve already talked about personalizing your automotive email marketing campaigns by segmenting your audience, but we haven’t actually touched on true email-text personalization yet. Personalization means including unique information about the user in the email.
Personalization is one of the strongest automotive email marketing strategies because it can provide measurable results. Depending on the amount of information available to you about the customer or lead, you may be able to achieve varying levels of personalization. However, even simple personalization like beginning your emails with the user’s first name, or including their name in the subject line can help boost the efficacy of your email marketing. In fact – just personalizing the subject line of an email means an email is 26% more likely to be opened. This can boost appointment rates, sales, and drive traffic to your dealership. If personalization isn’t part of your automotive email marketing strategy yet, it should be.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #5: Minimize Promotions
While you should already be delivering useful content as a part of your automotive email marketing strategy, it’s important to limit the amount of promotions you offer your customers and leads. Why? Audiences tend to tune out promotional emails if they’ve just seen 10,000 almost identical ones. As an automotive email marketing strategy, limit your promotional emails to one every month or a few per quarter. If people begin to expect just more ads and coupons from an email and they aren’t already very interested in buying, they’ll start tuning those emails out fast. Or worse, they may just unsubscribe altogether and you’ll lose your opportunity to speak to that lead or customer.
When you do offer email promotions, they should be good promotions. Your promotion for February shouldn’t be a “two for one car wash on Saturdays 5:00am-5:23am.” That might be a bit of an exaggeratedly bad example, but our point is the same: When you do offer your email audience a promotion, make them feel like it’s an important one – worth their attention and their time. A promotion should feel special, exclusive, and limited. There’s no reason to come in for a $50 off tune-up this week if you know that same offer is going to come around again in two weeks when you’re less busy.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #6: Feedback Campaign
So far, most of the automotive email marketing strategies we’ve discussed are focused on bringing useful content to the right people. This automotive email marketing strategy differs from that trend in that it focuses on the flip side of automotive email marketing – not just delivering information to a user, but the ability to engage in a conversation.
Feedback campaigns are one of the most underutilized types of automotive email marketing, but can have a major impact on a dealership, both in terms of on and offline reputation, and overall customer experience. While automotive dealerships already gather similar information in CSI reports, CSI reports don’t necessarily go as deep as a feedback campaign can.
To establish a feedback campaign, first decide what information you’re seeking about the customer’s experience. Next, establish an automotive email marketing strategy with targeted emails to send your customers. Many email marketing platforms allow you to create a survey to politely request customer feedback on some aspect of their dealership experiences. If their feedback is negative, you have the opportunity to turn a detractor into an evangelist by doing your utmost to solve their issue. If their feedback is positive, you can thank them personally and ask that they post their review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.
A feedback campaign is a great way to reconnect with a customer base that has slowed down on reviews, engagement, or interest in recent times. It might not be the more tantalizing or fascinating of ideas, but the fact is that a feedback campaign works – that’s why is is such an important automotive email marketing strategy.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #7: Mobile Optimize
We know this isn’t a “strategy” in the way that most of these have been, but we cannot mention successful automotive email marketing strategies without mentioning mobile optimization. It isn’t a refreshing new idea or interesting step to take, it’s an absolute necessity. This is why all email marketing platforms offer this important feature in their email templates. However, if you are sending out custom templates, you need to review whether they are dynamic and optimized for mobile.
These days, mobile accounts for 47% of all email opens. That’s nearly half of all emails. If you haven’t optimized your automotive email marketing for mobile, you are missing out on almost half the engagements, conversions, and sales. Imagine flushing half of your current profit from email sales. Now imagine doubling it. If you haven’t optimized for mobile as a part of your automotive email marketing, making this change could double the audience that is looking at your emails.
A word of caution: dealers that haven’t yet mobile optimized may struggle to earn back the attention of mobile customers who have begun to ignore messages due to their poor display. Optimize your mobile ASAP and capitalize on the “new” audience.
Automotive Email Marketing Strategy #8: Re-Engagement Campaigns & Retired Contacts
In all automotive email marketing, there is one problem that has always been difficult to deal with: people who just don’t care about you. It’s hard to market to people who don’t open your emails anymore.
Conventional marketing wisdom says that if a user does not engage in any emails within 90 days, their email should be scrubbed from the list. However, a 90 days interval is too short for the car business. Yet this isn’t a bad idea to clean your lists periodically. If someone hasn’t opened an email in 2 years, that’s probably not their primary email anymore, or they really do not want to buy a car. These kinds of emails should be cleaned from your automotive email marketing list.
But there’s another option, a re-engagement campaign. This is a great last-ditch effort. It can’t hurt because the majority of these people don’t even bother with your emails and one more probably won’t send them flying to Google to give you a bad review. In fact, it can really only help. Send out an email aimed at reconnecting with your audience (funny subject lines are welcome with this type of email), offer them some useful content, like blog highlights of the year, a welcome-back promotion, an invitation to a dealership-sponsored event, or anything else you think would be a good way to bring your disengaged users back into the fold.
Need some email-writing assistance? We’ve got your back. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help with anything we can. We’ve also created a bunch of great car sales email templates to start you off. Good luck!