In a world of instant messaging and social media, is email too old-fashioned? No absolutely not!

This year, half of the world’s population is expected to actively use email, which means that car dealerships can be pretty sure that their customers check their inboxes every day.

The question lies in how to make best use of email as part of your marketing strategy. And this is where it gets interesting; while other forms of digital communication are becoming increasingly complex to master, email has remained satisfyingly true to its roots.

This blog provides a thorough introduction to email marketing if you’re running a car dealership business.

Start with the right data

A clean, detailed and ethically-sourced database of subscribers is essential if you want to be effective with email marketing.

This is a common stumbling block. It is quite difficult to compile a list of good e-mail addresses yourself and to collect the correct data about subscribers.

Email marketing should benefit both your sales and service operations, but it can only do that if you have enough detail about your customers (past, present and future). To collect that data, you’ll need to implement forms on your website that comply with the GDPR’s rules, give people a reason to hand over their personal data and explain in which ways you would process it.

You have opportunities to obtain this data in-house, too. For instance, during a test drive procedure, your staff could be trained to ask for the email addresses of enquirers, along with their explicit consent for receiving marketing communications.

Once you get going, you’ll start to build a database of email subscribers that contains information which can be used for personalised messaging, such as birthday wishes, notifications of favourite car model launches and service reminders.

Make sure you’re adding automotive data into the mix

We mentioned the importance of personalisation above and it can’t be overstated. This is why adding automotive data into your subscriber records is so valuable.

Modern consumers expect personalised emails, and as an automotive business, you’re far more likely to get a high response rate if you send an email promotion about SUVs only to those with an interest in that type of vehicle. Similarly, customers are likely to feel more valued by your brand if they receive automatic reminders about tyre changes, scheduled services or lease renewals.

You’ll hear a lot about segmentation as you research email marketing best practices, but in the auto trade, that’s only possible when you have automotive data in the mix.

By leveraging the power of modern automotive Cloud CRM systems, customers and leads lists can be automatically “fed” into integrated automotive marketing automation systems. From there, the rich data collected (model choice, engine preference, demographics, etc) can be segmented and targeted with specific marketing campaigns, thus better influencing purchasing decisions.

Ensure your emails are mobile-ready

It’s estimated that 46% of email opens take place on mobile devices, and this makes it imperative that your emails respond well to smaller screens.

If you send out a perfectly structured email to just the right audience, all that effort could go to waste if half of the recipients can’t view it properly on their phones.

Thankfully, most email marketing systems will automatically resize your email for mobile devices, but the key lies in plenty of testing before you send.

Don’t expect your customers and potential customers to hang around if your marketing email appears incorrectly on their mobile device; mobile-readiness is a must-have in the modern age.

Take advantage of automation and triggering

One of the best things about email marketing is that it can do the heavy work for you.

There are two techniques you could use:

  • Automation: the ability to automatically send a series of timed emails to showroom walk-ins, online leads, lapsed customers or people who recently concluded a test drive which gradually builds trust and brand advocacy.
  • Triggering: the ability to automatically send emails to people based on their behaviour. For instance, when they sign a finance deal, view a new model or book a test drive online. This is often referred to as event-based marketing, which identifies key events in the lifecycle of a customer and activates a targeted action or message at just the right time.

When used properly, automation and triggering will enable you to nurture customer relationships both at the point of sale and during the after sales period with minimum human effort.

And finally: respond to messages!

If you do a good job with your email marketing, customers are likely to respond. Therefore, the use of “no-reply” addresses is not recommended; it’s much stronger to provide a quick personal response when people make the effort to reach out.

According to research, 23% of customers switch dealership brands if they experience poor interaction. By using our tips above, you’ll avoid that trap and discover a form of marketing that absolutely deserves a place in your strategy.