You’d be forgiven for assuming that in a world of instant messaging and social media, email is now rather old fashioned.
Think again. This year, half of the world’s population is expected to be actively using email, and that means car dealerships can be pretty certain that their customers are checking their inboxes each 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.
Consider this blog the only introduction you need 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 vital if email marketing is to be effective.
This is a common stumbling block. It’s far easier to buy a list of email addresses than it is to curate one using fair, compliant methods. It’s also far easier to collect insufficient 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 a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
There are two techniques you should lean on:
- 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: don’t forget to respond!
If you do a good job with your email marketing, customers are likely to respond. This is why using “no-reply” addresses is inadvisable; it’s far better to offer a swift human response when people go to the trouble of getting in touch.
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.