Before you send out one more mass marketing email, please consider this…
If your Owner or GM decided one day to stop spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on traditional advertising in order to focus solely on digital marketing, would you be ready to handle the job? That’s the mindset I have each and every day I go to work. When I create a newsletter or targeted email blast for one of my stores, I treat it as the one-and-only impression that consumer is going to see. It’s important to me that I take this approach because if my email is indeed the only impression they are going to get, it better be a damn good one, right?
So now that we are all thinking along the same lines, let’s look at how you (yes, YOU!) can become more effective at Email Marketing in your Car Dealership.
1 : It’s about Quality, not Quantity – To me email addresses are like gold, and need to be cared for as such as the precious items that they are. When you email your customers, it’s important that your email looks good, contains proper grammar (duh!) and has a clear call to action. It sounds simple, but if we can’t get this down pat, then there’s no need to move on.
Think about the emails you personally receive from places like Target, Overstock.com or Wal-Mart. Do the emails you send out look anything like that or do they look like they came straight from Microsoft Works circa 1995? Just because some dealers set the bar low with their email marketing, that doesn’t mean you have to follow that course. Take the lead and create emails that dazzle and delight your customers!
1.5: Just Don’t Do It – Emailing your current newspaper ad each week to every single email address you have in your database (and some you found lying around online) is not a good idea (and it never was). It’s tacky, it’s lazy, and it will result in unsubscribes and spam reports.
2: Segment Your List – Here’s a real-life example. I do a lot of mystery shopping, and I recently received an email from a local Toyota dealer who I made an inquiry on well over a year ago. I never established any communication with them and obviously never used them for sales or service, yet here I am a year later (see #5 below) getting an email from Slappy-Jo Toyota telling me all about their huge Demo Sale.
I’m sorry guys and girls, just because your manager has a bunch of Demo’s he needs to move and wants to blast it out via email, that doesn’t mean you should send it to EVERYONE. I’ll put this in the category of number1.5 above. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Before you email anything to your whole database, ask yourself a question. Does Judy Smith, who comes in every six months for an oil change and keeps her compact sedan for 4+ years need to know that it’s Truck Month…again…for the seventh month in a row? Probably not.
Segment your emails so your most targeted prospects and customers are receiving messages that are relevant to their needs, wants & desires.
3: Make it Personal – And on the 4th day, god created merge fields… As corny as it may sound, people still like seeing their name in writing and seeing the name of the person who sent them an email. If you are sending a marketing email out on behalf of your Sales Manager or Sales Consultant, craft your email in a way that your customer doesn’t even realize that your email was sent to a mass audience. Make it feel personal and one-to-one.
○ Greet your customer: It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to catch up with you, and I thought today would be a great day to let you know what’s going on here at ABC Motors….
○ Insert your beautifully crafted email body.
○ Say goodbye to your customer: Is there anything I can do to help you out? Please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (888) 555-1212 and I’ll do what I can to make your day a great one!
○ Add a 2 Line Signature: First & Last Name and Title only. The rest of the info for your website, address, phone #, social links, etc. should already be visible in your header or footer. You don’t need a 17 line signature that includes both your fax numbers and links to all of your social media pages.
I’ll tell you from experience that this works consistently. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I listened to (spoiler alert, see #4 below) where after the operator greets the caller, they say “Yes, I’d like to speak with Keith, he just sent me an email…”
4: Track It – If you aren’t tracking the links and the phone number that you include in your emails, how do you ever know how effective your email is? I use the Google URL Builder to code every link I send out so that when the link is clicked, Google Analytics will capture that info for me.
When it comes to tracking phone calls generated from our emails, we have a specific tracking number that we set up through CallSource for each of our store’s email marketing campaigns. It’s simple and easy to log in to the reporting tool and know within a few clicks how many phone calls a specific email generated (and listen to them too!).
5: Play By The Rules – This might be a tough pill to swallow for some, as many dealership personnel (not you of course) seem to love SPAM and can’t get enough of it. The reality is, it’s getting more difficult to reach the inbox of your prospects and customers. Not only do you have to make it past spam filters and corporate email filters, email providers like Gmail and Yahoo use crowd sourcing techniques to determine the relevancy of emails intended for their users. Even if you initially reach the inbox today, the more people that mark your email as junk, the less chance it has of reaching your intended recipients in the future.
Here are the rules I adhere to with my email marketing lists.
○ I don’t market to prospects older than 90 days who haven’t responded to an email or purchased a product or service*
○ I only market to sold, service and parts customers who’ve purchased a product or service from us the past 18 months**
○ If someone doesn’t use the unsubscribe feature and sends me an email asking to be removed from my lists, I remove them. Immediately.
6: Be an Email Specialist – Not an Expert, not a Ninja and certainly not a Guru. All of those terms imply that you know everything there is to know about a given subject. You don’t. I don’t. No one does.
Do however give yourself credit and take responsibility for being one of the main drivers of traffic to your store or stores. The email marketing that you craft and dispense are the life-blood of any dealership. When done correctly, email can have the highest rate of return of any marketing piece in your toolbox. Never stop learning, and always look to improve your skills.
7: Consider Ditching Your CRM – We stopped using our CRM for Email Marketing over a year ago and started using Constant Contact. This is the first step we took when we made the intentional decision to be better than the average car dealer when it came to email marketing. It was no coincidence that once we made the switch, we improved our open rates, click-thru rates, got more phone calls and drove more traffic through the doors.
The flexibility Constant Contact gives us in terms of content creation, list management, detailed reporting and ease of use makes me wonder how we ever tracked the effectiveness of our emails before (we didn’t).
So there it is folks, 7 things you can start doing TODAY to help you become more effective at email marketing at your dealership. If you have any questions or tips of your own you’d like to share, get your thoughts together and post them in the comments below!
*Now be honest, once you saw the asterisks above, did you immediately skip to the bottom of this post, or did you read the rest of the article? Tell us all what YOU did in the comments below.
** Pro-Tip: So you want to play by the rules but are wondering how can you market to your customers who’ve fallen off your email list? That’s a blog post all to itself, stay tuned!