Move cars off the lot faster than you can drive them
Keep your customers delighted after they drive off the lot! Here are our favorite automotive email marketing tips to catch attention and stoke engagement
When it comes to engaging customers, nothing works better for car dealerships than a solid email marketing strategy. As you know, retaining customers is just as important as picking up new ones. If you can capture the loyalty of every person who drives off the lot, their customer lifecycles will be longer and more referrals will come your way.
Successful automotive email marketing starts with one idea: engage, reward, and express gratitude for your customer. The effects of implementing this idea into every email are four-fold.
- She will develop trust and loyalty with your dealership.
- She will be more likely to refer family members and friends.
- She will purchase more automobiles and services from your dealership over time.
Our top 5 tips for capturing customers with automotive email marketing
1. Focus on individual customers and make it personal
Many car dealers tend to focus their email marketing efforts on “macro” audiences. They do their best to make messages seem personal for each recipient, but, in the end, they usually fall flat. Here’s the issue: your customers receive massive amounts of promotional emails every week from various sources. If your message does not speak to one person directly, it has a much higher chance of being ignored or deleted.
Taking the time to send a direct correspondence to one customer will make a difference. In today’s world of automated and robotic emails, personalized messages hold more value than ever before. At the same time, you don’t want to bog yourself (or your marketing manager) down with writing individual emails all day.
Instead, save these personal messages for important dates, such as:
- Anniversary of their purchase. Check up and see how the vehicle is running and offer a free oil change.
- Customer birthdays. Wish a happy birthday and give gratitude to a committed client.
- Three month check-ups. When service is due, remind them to bring their vehicle in.
Here’s a tip: you don’t have to spend too much time on these “personal” emails. If you can identify the customer-specific dates above and take the time to write a template for car-anniversary or customer birthdays, you can use automated emails to send truly customized emails for you.
2. Give the gift of valuable content
Promotional emails should not be the only output for your marketing efforts. Give your customers valuable and useful pieces of content on a weekly basis. Ask them to opt-in to a newsletter that sends out well-written, informative posts every week.
What kind of content do you customers find useful? Here are a few topic ideas to get you started:
- How to prepare your vehicle for the winter months
- What to do when you run out of gas
- What is the appropriate way to act when you get pulled over
- What is involved in regular car maintenance?
- How often should I get an oil change?
- Why is texting while driving a bad idea?
- How to maintain a high trade-in value for your vehicle
Customers will be interested in reading your expert opinions and advice on these topics. You can establish yourself as an informational resource while keeping them engaged. But you have to commit to a set schedule and publish these newsletter articles on a consistent basis.
3. Make promotional offers a special occasion
Now that you’ve caught the attention of your newsletter subscribers with valuable content, add in something a little extra to delight them. Promotional offers can be redundant when sent out too often, but sporadically thrown into the mix, they have a much better chance to stand out.
Go a step further and make special promotions exclusive to certain customers. People love to feel like they’re members of a VIP club.
You can also use promotions to build out other areas of your marketing mix, such as social media engagement. Send a promo code for a discounted car wax, tire rotation, or oil change. To redeem the offer, they have to tweet or update their status with a specific update, such as “Like my post so I can get a free oil change at XX dealership!”
4. Give rewards for loyalty
Automotive email marketing is an excellent tool for promoting incentives and rewarding loyalty. Set milestones throughout the year and overall lifecycle of your customers. Depending on how long (and to what extent) they have been loyal to your dealership, offer rewards along the way.
- Freebies or discounts on oil changes, cleanings, engine check-ups, etc.
- Content giveaways, such as e-books and videos
- Gift certificates and prize contests
- A personal email from the GM or sales manager
5. Show you care about feedback
What’s the best way to catch someone’s attention? Ask his opinion.
Make your customers feel like valued assets to your business. Not just as a customer, but a loyal partner. Show that you care about their opinions on how to improve service quality.
Remember: keep your automotive email marketing “micro” focused. If you want to connect with your customer on a personal level and receive good feedback, send him an email. Just for him. The fact that he was singled out to provide an opinion will be surprising, if not exciting.
If he has a particular concern or complaint, use this opportunity to fix the problem. Dealerships who respond to feedback in a positive way will win the respect and loyalty of their customers. If he is ecstatic about the prompt service, go a step further and ask him to provide a testimonial.
Last but not least: express gratitude for continued business
Use automotive email marketing to remind customers that you value them. Send out regular thank you emails just for the sake of expressing gratitude. People respond well to small acts of recognition. As a car dealer, it’s in your best interest to keep customers happy and confident about continuing to do business.
Do you have any email marketing tips to add? What’s your experience with keeping customers engaged? Share your thoughts in the comments!