Automotive Email Marketing: 5 Emails Every Independent Dealer Should Send (and 3 They Shouldn’t)

Dealers that prioritize automotive email marketing often increase customer engagement, improve brand recognition, and enjoy a positive ROI.

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In the world of online marketing, many auto dealers have shifted their attention — and advertising dollars — to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While social media can be quite cost-effective and an excellent way to connect with customers, some dealers are ignoring a proven, powerful form of marketing that is 40 times better at getting customers than Facebook or Twitter: automotive email marketing.

Yes, we’re all getting a lot of e-mails these days — but we’re still opening and responding to them. This is the perfect opportunity for auto dealers to actively engage with customers. Businesses participating in email marketing are also seeing impressive returns; according to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing yields an estimated 4,300% ROI.

Automotive email marketing does not have to be hard, but it should be strategic. You don’t want to create general email blasts that you send out to a huge, varied list of people. When you do that, you’re likely going against the CAN-SPAM Act — and probably annoying a lot of people in the process.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers: what do they care about? What usually brings them into the dealership? Create emails that address those needs, invest a little bit of extra time into crafting engaging copy, and you may just be surprised by the positive feedback you begin to receive.

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5 Popular automotive email marketing approaches

Not sure what to send your customers? There are a few different types of emails that tend to do well when it comes to automotive email marketing:

1. New inventory alert

Target leads and customers in your database that have been flagged as interested in a specific make or model. If a customer has consistently shown interest in Ford models, or reached out to inquire about a Jeep, you better believe her interest will be piqued if you let her know about the new inventory that’s just rolled in.

2. Loan/lease maturity offer

Search your CRM or DMS database for a list of customers whose loan or lease is coming due for maturity within 90 or even 60 days. Then send them an incentive for trading in their current automobile.

3. Birthday emails to existing customers

So many businesses fire off email after impersonal email, so if you try a different approach and show you care, a customer is likely to remember that when they are in the market for a new car. Every year, send birthday messages out to existing customers thanking them for their business and wishing them a special day. Better yet, throw in an offer for a free oil change to get them in the door.

4. Service reminders/coupons

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You live and breathe everything automotive because that is your job. However, simple things like regular maintenance can slip your customers’ minds because their lives are busy. Be proactive and remind them about regular service their car may need (like tire rotation) and encourage them to come to you for those services by providing discounts. If you’re looking for a reason to send out monthly emails, this is the perfect option.

5. Sales events

Everyone loves a good sale, so tell your customers when you have one! Even if a customer may not be sure they want to buy a new car yet, a sale event could push them in that direction. Schedule sales throughout the year as well. Your customer’s expect sales to come at certain times, but there’s no reason why you can’t schedule sales during slow periods as well.

3 Things you should never do in your automotive email marketing

1. Don’t send your weekly newspaper ad

Don’t be lazy. Something that works in print will not always translate to online. All of your emails should be customized for the web and should be different than what you publish in the newspaper.

2. Don’t send to an old list or customers you haven’t contacted in over two years

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If you haven’t had contact with a customer in a very long time, they probably don’t want to hear from you. Your email may get marked as spam, and if a lot of the email addresses don’t work anymore, your email bounce rate will skyrocket. High bounce rates and being labeled as spam are bad for your automotive email marketing because future emails may get caught and blocked by spam filters.

3. Don’t send emails that look unprofessional

You may not be a designer by trade, but you can still put together marketing emails that look clean, professional, and attractive. AutoRaptor’s email template builder can help you send stunning, professional-looking emails with just a few clicks.

A lot of automotive email marketing can be trial and error, as each industry has little quirks and preferences that you’ll need to discover. However, the most important thing is that you prioritize email marketing for your auto dealership, and you continually think of new and interesting ways to keep your customers engaged.

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.