We are going to look at the best Automotive Email Marketing Strategies for 2020. We’re starting right now if you want to transform your mailing list into a customer or lead generation machine I’ll show you all my best tips tactics and secrets.

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Automotive Email Marketing Strategies Report

There is a  new report shows that for every dollar a company spends on email marketing they make about forty-four dollars in return. Which makes that just an incredibly profitable marketing tool. As with any marketing channel you know things change and shift over time. Things that worked last year done necessarily work this year.

Digital Marketing Techniques

Automotive Email Marketing is a great addition to your other digital dealership marketing activities. Why? It builds customer loyalty and leads to engagement without breaking the bank. And, it works on mobile as well! Develop a contact list and how to speak to different audiences based on their interests.

As with any type of marketing, your first step in email marketing should be to set goals. Do you want to use email to showcase the vehicle makes and the service department bringing more visitors to your location? Do you want to use email to drive dealership results, like distributing a manufacturer promotion that brings in at least 10 sales? No matter what your goals are, a good place to start is by building a list of people who’ve expressed an interest in your dealership. 

You don’t want to overwhelm your automotive customers or leads with too much content. Either in one email or too many emails in succession. Start with a friendly hello and an introduction to the dealership. Next, you might send information about your particular location and the manufacturer lines that you sell. At this point, you can ask them one or two questions to narrow down their interest a bit. For example, somebody looking for financing doesn’t need to know about the newest luxury model that has arrived. 

Then, when you have information about your customers, you can send them specific offers or content they might find interesting. For example, if you know that’s a group of these customers recently purchased dog food, you might showcase your most popular toys, collars, and leads for dogs. Be sure to include useful information and relevant offers like tips for dog training or a coupon for dog treats

Automotive Email Marketing Tips

So in this post, I’m going to give you my six best tips of things that are working like crazy right now. To really help you keep that relationship alive over the course of someone deciding to get on your list before actually becoming a paying customer. Hopefully, these tips are going to speed up that process for you

The first thing I want to mention is simpler or no email design. Every time I put together a new email funnel for a new client I start getting emails from them of like little screen grabs or email forwards from big companies. They say why don’t we do something like this. I get it those really designed heavy emails look really cool and they look great in the inbox.

Of course, you would want something like that for your business. Almost every email provider out there even the cheap ones they come with obvious templates. These are built right into the software itself. So why not actually use those templates? It’s really simple because they look like one big fat commercial when they hit your inbox.

Simple Email Sends

Think for a second about what email is actually primarily supposed to be used for, communicating with family and friends. Of course, most use it for work as well. When’s the last time you sent an email to a friend that looked like a full image email? The idea here is to casually slip into your customers’ inbox as a friend or at least as a helpful person.

That they can trust that’s not gonna sell to them but gonna help guide them in the direction they want to go, so I just recommend doing what successful internet marketers have already been doing and that’s just sending out boring old plain text emails. 

Inbox or Promotions

It sounds boring but these emails are much more likely to be read. Because they just look like a genuine email you would get from your friend, neighbor or family member. And the other reason to ditch those template emails is that all the images inside with the links is the best way to make sure that you never reach your customers’ inbox. They often end up in the little promotions tab in Gmail. You don’t want to end up there, you want to end up in the actual inbox. 

Images and Links

Let’s try to keep those images and links in the email to a minimum. I recommend no more than a single link per email and preferably no images at all. But if you have to use one if it adds some color or add something special to the message of the email go ahead. Do one but limit it to that one. The way I like to add an image to an email is not by adding a product image or anything promotional.

Animated Gifs and Humor

Perhaps add some kind of an animated gif that either supports one of the points of the email. Also, add some humor or fun to it so it’s a little more memorable. Just choose it wisely you know your audience you know what they’re gonna find funny. So just make sure it hits home with them and they get the reference all right from the email they receive. 

Storytelling in Emails

Next, let’s look at storytelling in your emails. This is something that I want all dealers to improve this year. It something I definitely want to start incorporating into my overall email marketing strategy. Rather than just delivering a tip or vehicle option in the email make it count for more. Including a really short story that illustrates that point. There are whole parts of your brain that just light up and fire off when it hears a good story. Plus it makes it more relatable and personal. Certainly, if you’re talking about something in your own past or a current or past customer. So rather than just explaining the feature and benefits of a vehicle. 

Videos in Your Emails

Incorporating video in 2019 injury emails and not only put video in your emails but say so write in the subject line that’s gonna double your open rates. The other benefit is people are much more likely to actually consume your content and get the message you’re trying to send. A video format versus reading plain text and almost everybody is much more able to you know understand and retain that information.

When they’re seeing it and hearing it in video just take whatever content you were gonna put in your email. Just make a short video about it and it doesn’t even have to be high production value. That can make people up to thinking they have to get a whole camera crew and spend hundreds of dollars on a video. You 100% don’t just use your smartphone to do a short selfie-style video it’ll connect just fine and you get your point across.

Finally, you just upload it to YouTube and get a little screen capture of the thumbnail. Put that image right in your email and then link it to the video itself alright next play.

Using Email Content

Many dealerships get really intimidated when they start thinking about putting together an email campaign. But more times than not they already have content that they can repurpose and string together into an email series. They can just send up once and then it gets automatically sent out. These can go out to new email subscribers at the exact moment that they end up opting into it on the site. 

Email Sending Cycles

So if somebody opts in for information today, the series starts today with a new helpful email every week until that series is over. Then when somebody else opts-in next April her cycle starts then getting the exact same email series. So if you have some great blog posts already or an interview you did or a video. Anything like that content that you can use you just have to introduce it in the email.

If you don’t have anything yet that’s okay just start writing one new email a week for as long as you think the series should go on. Then just put that email every time at the end of that campaign so essentially you’re just building this email campaign.

Email Marketing – Content is King

I do recommend splitting up the content here and there. Maybe some blog posts, some videos and some weeks you can even go a little easier on yourself and just put the information or the tips right in the body of the email itself,

You could even link out to content every once in a while. It had nothing to do with creating just put your own spin on it in the body of the email letting people know why you think it’s helpful for them. Then just link out to it for the reader to review the content. The other thing that’s working really well now is by using some simple segmentation. Let’s say your dealership offers a few different types of makes or has a few different types of services that interest in different types of customers.

Setting up Email Sequences

Options for your dealership then they get put in that email sequence. so they’re on services and they start getting helpful content related to the service department. This is really powerful because these are different types of customers that have a different goal in mind (sales, service, finance, and others). So if you started just sending out a mixture of those topics to all of those customers a lot of them might start unsubscribing.

You could have one overarching umbrella that’s kind of interesting to everyone. And then have a simple option where they check which vehicle, make, model or service are they most interested in at the dealership. Then you can use a campaign they would see what box they checked and that automatically puts them on either “Track A “or “Track B” for the right content from the dealership. 

Scrubbing and Spam

Now we want to look at re-engaging or scrubbing your list. It’s really good to have a big list, you know quantity can be good as sometimes it is a numbers game. But it’s more important to have a quality list that actually opens your emails. If they are looking forward to hearing from you every week so. When you have a big list of people who really aren’t even opening your emails you run a higher risk of your emails being flagged as spam or getting high unsubscribe rates.

These are basically really bad signals to the email providers like Gmail and what happens is if you get enough people who are flagging your emails as spam box. They may end up either the promotions tab or even worse you can wind up in the spam folder.

That goes for your entire list, not just the people who flagged you as spam. You have someone flags you as spam they’ll they won’t get your emails anymore. But all the people who even like hearing from you it’s going to go in their spam folder as well. You definitely don’t want that to happen.

Another advantage of having a leaner list of only customers who are most likely interested in hearing from you is the sending cost. Most of these service providers basically bill you based on how many subscribers you have on the list. So it makes sense to weed out some of the ones who are just dead weight essentially but before you start.

Recipients That Don’t Open Emails?

The email marketing program again can be used to strip emails. Segment out people who haven’t opened any of your emails for the last 90 days. Then you’re going to want to start a brand new campaign that’s geared just to those people. I would recommend a series of four value-based emails where you’re just educating something helpful about a model or service. Giving some advice in these emails. They are not to be promotional or selling at all these are just pure value.

At the end of the two weeks, anyone who hasn’t opened any of those emails now’s the time when you’re gonna kick them off your list. I know this sounds counterintuitive especially if you don’t already have a big list. But the truth is you know by getting rid of the people who don’t want to hear from you. It’s going to really make your deliverability better for the ones that do want to hear from you. So you can wind up where you want to be which is in their primary inbox.

Custom Email Sends

Then, when you have information about your customers, you can send them specific offers or content they might find interesting. For example, if you know that’s a group of these customers recently purchased a particular model, you might showcase your most accessories, services, and features of that model.

Be sure to include useful information and relevant offers like how to do something with the vehicle, perhaps a feature YouTube that highlights something they could use some education on about the vehicle. 

While you’re educating your customers about your business, you can use marketing emails to learn more about them as well. Ask your subscribers if they’re interested in receiving updates for other products or services. Then, find out how often they prefer to hear from you. For example, do they want to receive emails weekly or monthly? Record what you learn in your email contact database for future email campaigns.

Are You Ready?

Based on my experience, my objective is to work with dealerships and help with their email communication. This means more traffic on the website, in the dealership and more sales! Contact me to learn more about how I help dealers.

Contact Shawn Ryder


Shawn Ryder

Shawn Ryder

Shawn Ryder has over fifteen years in the automotive industry. Having worked with a training company in the early 2000s for a number of years, focusing on manufacturers and dealer groups. I then transitioned an automated digital marketing company for a couple of years focusing specifically on automotive dealerships. At that point decided best to work in a dealership for real experience, so I worked at a dealership selling vehicles for two years to understand the retail world. For the last three years has worked with dealers on digital marketing and growing traffic, leads and sales for the retail dealership.

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