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  • Lucie Gauvreau

Automotive Email Marketing Strategies for Your Dealership

While social media networking for your dealership is essential to build a vibrant community of interested and engaged members, email marketing remains the most powerful tool when you want to market specific offers to your existing customers.

Setting up Your List for Success

What did you do with all of those emails you have been collecting: are they all in one single convenient list or are they sitting in different databases all over the place? If they are, your first task is to put them in one list with numerous qualifier to efficiently target these contacts at a later date. Create a spreadsheet that includes the names, email address, year, make, model, mobile phone number, date of purchase, last service, and their interest. Don’t worry if you don’t have all these fields; you can still build a specifically targeted email list with limited information.

In targeted email marketing, offer a personal message to your recipient. Avoid sending sales promotion emails to someone who has just bought a new vehicle; you will only create grief for your sales team. Instead, focus the content of your email on service and maintenance issues for these customers who recently purchased.

It might be a lot of work, but get your list in order before you send your first email. Your deliverability will increase, you will trigger fewer unsubscribes, and it will be easy to add new names as you grow your list with opt-in customers.

Keep your list clean by purging bounced emails or unsubscribes immediately. If you are using an email service like Constant Content or our proprietary Turbo Email Marketing, the system will do this for you in real-time, so your list is always fresh and clean.

Make Sure You Have a Subject that Grabs your Prospects attention

Without a subject line that grabs their attention, your email is going straight to the trash bin.

Depending upon your message, your email subject line has to get them to open it. Here are some samples of emotions to play upon:

. Self Interest - Drive the car Your Neighbors Wish They had Bought

. Offer – Get up to $10,500 in total discounts (details inside)

. Urgency - Hurry! Manufacturer's Rebates End in 48hrs

. News - Brand New XYZ Model just arrived

. List - 5 Reasons You Will Love the New XYZ Model

Stay under 50 characters and leave out spam words that might trigger their email client's spam filter like FREE, OPEN, 100% and others. Questions work well in the headline.

Create A Compelling Message

Anytime you send an email, use a prompt that adds your recipient's name to the salutation. Personalized emails with merge fields are read more often than generic emails because they connect.

Like ad copy, a marketing email is designed to stimulate the needs, hopes, and desires of your readers while emphasizing their pains and fears. You have the solution to their problem; so emphasize their problem and your solution!

Stay on message and do not overwhelm them with other content. If you are introducing the latest model car to owners of a five-year-old model, then make that the message. You will have plenty of time to upsell later.

Use a Call For Action

Always use a call for action within the body of your email. Use a specific page within your Website featuring the product or promotion you are describing and ask the customer to visit the page. You could also add an exciting incentive to the message of your email, and use a Web form on the landing page to capture your customer's contact information. This strategy will supply your sales team with a steady flow of leads from people interested by your offer.

Measure the Activity

Again, if you are using an email client, you can see the success of your email campaign by comparing the open rate and click-through ratio. If you notice that your emails are not being opened, or people are not answering your call for action, then mix up your subject or your message or switch up your approach.

Maybe they do not want to see the new model, but maybe they are interested in finding out the value of their current vehicle. Offer them an appointment to get an appraisal done. No strings attached.

To avoid too many hit-and-misses, you want to test both the subject line and body or your email with a small sample of contacts on your list until you find the winning combination. Once you have the ideal combo you can send to all your contacts.

You should create a balance of giving and taking with your emails. This is part of your relationship with your prospect.


. It has to be easy to skim through, so write with bullet points and headers and keep it short.

. Avoid garish colors to bring points home. Use the headline HTML code to make your points stand out.

. Write expressively with emotionally packed words.

. Put in a Call-to-Action at the front and at the end of your email. Always ask for the sale.

. Check your spelling and have someone proofread it before you hit send.

. If you add links, make sure that they are correct before sending the email.

. Make sure that your return emails can receive mail and that the unsubscribe button is clearly visible at the bottom to stay within email marketing practice regulations.

. Make sure you have the physical address of your dealership included at the bottom of your email

. Use a P.S. at the end of your message to reiterate the essence of your offer

. Send yourself a test email before you hit send.

There are many detailed reports that can be derived from email marketing like A/B testing and other behavior analysis, but as long as your message is to the point and targeted to the right people, you will see a rise in your open rate. By the way, studies show that the best open rate is when emails are received on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Lucie Gauvreau is the CEO of Turbo Marketing Solutions. You can contact her by email here or reach her by phone every weekday at Turbo Marketing’s head office.

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