10 Steps to Email Marketing Success for Dealerships

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

As online retailing takes priority, using email is essential if you want to reach more customers, build better brand recognition, and boost sales. Find out why email marketing is a powerful tool to have in your back pocket and how to implement a winning email strategy for your dealership today.

Email marketing is one of the oldest online advertising channels and it’s still one of the most effective. This digital marketing strategy yields a 4,400% return on investment for businesses, making it a cost-efficient tool for marketers. When used right, email offers a fast and economical way to reach new leads, build credibility in your industry, strengthen existing customer relationships, and drive more traffic to your website. Whether you’re just getting started with email marketing or are looking for pointers on how to improve your current strategy, check out these 10 tips to find out how you can create value-packed emails that send new and repeat car buyers to your dealership.

    1. Pick an email marketing platform

    You can’t send emails without signing up for an email marketing service first. There are many platforms out there and some of the most popular ones include MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, AWeber, and SendinBlue

    Find an email marketing service that has the types of features you’re looking for (i.e. A/B testing, list segmentation, automation). It should also offer mobile-optimized templates since over 70% of people read emails on their phone. Your email provider should also integrate seamlessly with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) so you don’t have to waste time manually updating lists or sending emails. 

    2. Clean your existing database

    If your email list is quite old, now is a good time to review it and make sure you’re adhering to CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. According to the legislation, you must get consent from people before you can send them promotional emails. 

    There are two types of consent: implied and express. Implied consent is when a recipient has purchased a product or service from your dealership in the past 24 months. Express consent is when the person agrees (orally or in writing) to receive your messages. This form of consent can be obtained through opt-in forms on your website. Remember, implied consent expires two years after purchase so you need to remove contacts who haven’t bought from you in that timeframe. Express consent never expires but recipients can withdraw consent at any time.

    3. Grow your email list

    You probably gather email addresses from customers who walk through your door, but you’ll want to collect them on your website too if you’re not already doing so. Consider placing a signup form, subscribe button, or strategically timed pop-up message on your homepage. Whatever method you choose, make sure your opt-in message sounds enticing and tells prospective leads what type of content they can expect to receive. 

    Whether you send educational content, special offers, or a combination of both, you need to let your audience know the incredible value of signing up for your emails.

    You may want to collect more than just name and email if you plan to personalize the messaging. Additional information such as the car model the visitor is interested in and the type of vehicle they’re currently driving can help you create special content tailored for specific recipients.

    4. Segment your contacts

    Segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into smaller groups based on specific criteria such as location, interests, purchase history, and lead source. It allows you to send more relevant emails and is proven to increase open rates, click-through rates, and sales.

    Let’s say you have a group of potential buyers interested in a certain Ford truck. You could put these individuals in a segmented list and send them special content on that specific model. If you’re hosting a local event, you can notify subscribers who live in the area to attend. There are many ways to segment your email list so take some time to figure out which of your contacts could benefit the most from this personalized approach. 

    5. Develop an email strategy

    Before you hit send, you need to define your email goals and develop a strategy to help you achieve them. Think about what you want to accomplish with your emails as this will determine the types of content you create. You should also know how email fits into your overall marketing plan and establish ways to measure success. 

    Don’t make the mistake of sending random emails with a disorganized assortment of company updates, tips, and special offers. Each email should serve a specific purpose and be sent to the right people at the right time. For example, you could generate repeat business by promoting new products to previous customers, drive traffic to your website by sharing new blog posts, or keep contacts up-to-date with what’s going on at your dealership with a monthly newsletter. You could also send dedicated emails related to special offers, surveys, service reminders, and service announcements. 

    6. Keep your email design simple

    Simplicity is key when it comes to designing emails. Structure them in a way that’s easy to read, use headlines to highlight key messages, and include supporting details and eye-catching images to entice readers to learn more. Each email should also have a clear call to action so readers know exactly what they should do next. 

    7. Invest in great content 

    Do you want to build trust, showcase your company brand, and drive more traffic to your website? If so, you’ll have to create compelling content that engages, educates, and entertains your readers.

    If your dealership has a blog, invest in a strong writer and work with them to produce informative articles filled with the latest car tips and news. Once your posts are published, use email to spread awareness about them and include links so recipients can easily read them.

    Video is another effective way to communicate your message and brand. Benchmark Email says 87% of car shoppers use video when researching a product or service. Think about how test drives and review videos can help a prospect visualize how a new car looks and feels. Customer testimonial videos offer social proof and demonstrate service quality, while ‘meet the team’ videos are great for showing your dealership’s human side. 

    Keep in mind videos cannot be directly embedded in emails however, you can add a link which takes readers straight to your YouTube channel or website.

    8. Make your subject lines irresistible

    Over 200 billion emails are sent everyday. How do you make sure yours stand out and get opened? By writing killer subject lines, that’s how. Your subject lines should be clear, actionable, evoke curiosity, and be aligned with your personalized content approach.

    Here are some best practices for writing subject lines:

      • Be transparent and tell readers what’s inside the email
      • Include the recipient’s first name or the specific vehicle they may be interested in
      • Use a friendly and conversational tone
      • Add a bit of humour or intrigue when appropriate
      • Avoid words that trigger spam filters like “free”, “urgent”, and “best price”
      • Avoid using all caps and excessive exclamation marks
      • Keep it short and under 50 characters
      • Use a familiar sender name

    9. Experiment with send times 

    When you send your emails can have a big effect on whether your recipients read them or not. According to research done by Campaign Monitor, sending emails on a Tuesday resulted in the highest email open rates (18.3%), while Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday produced the best click-through rates (2.6%). WordStream also recommends sending between 9-11am and 1-3pm. The perfect send time depends on many factors and isn’t the same for every business. 

    The only way to determine the best send time for your dealership is by understanding your audience – What time do they wake up and go to bed? When do they check their email? What does a typical workday look like for them? – and then performing A/B tests to find out if your assumptions are correct.

    10. Harness the power of automation

    If you want to optimize your time and budget, email automation is the way to go. Many email marketing services offer automation capabilities, which means the system can automatically send emails when a specific event occurs. 

    For example, if someone is browsing a specific model on your website, that activity can trigger an email with related products or services they may be interested in. You can also nurture leads by sending a sequence of automated welcome emails when a new subscriber joins your list. There are all sorts of email automations you can set up, so do some research and see which ones would be most beneficial for your dealership.

    Leverage our digital strengths

    At Canada Drives, email is just one of the many powerful tools we leverage to reach, engage, and convert customers. With our sales-savvy methods and digital know-how, we deliver steady lead flow to hundreds of certified dealerships nationwide.

    Contact us to learn how we can help you generate more leads and close more sales.




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