Email Auto-Pilot: How Dealers Can Use Automation for Email Marketing

email marketing

Take a look at your email inbox. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Email is a powerful marketing channel, but it’s a crowded one. How do you make your messages stand out in a sea of meaningless, spammy emails?

There are two keys to email marketing:

  1. Timing
  2. Relevance

If you can master those two elements of email marketing, you will see a massive boost in performance. The problem is, who has time to sit around waiting for the perfect moment to send an email? Definitely not you.

That’s why dealers with the best email marketing programs rely on automation and technology to get the job done. Here are 6 ways to supercharge your email marketing program and build deeper relationships with your customers: 

1. Use Sequences to Send the Right Email at the Right Time

Your emails will perform best when they’re relevant and timely. You want to reach customers at crucial moments during the buyer’s journey and nurture them to the sale. A well-timed email could be the difference between closing a deal and watching them walk.

But how are you supposed to know which emails to send and when? That’s where email sequences come in.

A sequence is a series of emails that are scheduled to send at specific moments during the deal cycle. Each deal stage has 2-3 emails that are automatically sent to customers in a sequence lasting 1-2 weeks.

For example, say a lead from CarGurus comes through. That lead is now in the first stage of the buying cycle. With an email sequence in place, the customer will automatically receive a welcome email. 24 hours later, they’ll receive another email asking if they have any questions. If the dealer doesn’t get a reply, the sequence will send a third follow-up 72 hours marketing

On the other hand, imagine the lead does respond and comes in for a demo. As they enter the next deal stage, your sequence kicks off a brand new sequence of emails.

Like you and me, customers live busy lives. Even if buying a car is a priority, it can be easy to put it on the back burner. Automated email sequences gently remind buyers to finish the process. 

2. Set Up Automatic Check-Ins for Customers

Once you close a new deal, it’s smart to check in with the customer. This will help your reps build loyalty and trust. Instead of manually sending follow-up emails, you can set up automated check-ins at specific points after purchase. A good practice is to send check-in emails 1 week, 1 month, and 6 months after purchase to ensure the customer is still happy with their vehicle.

You can also set up automated emails for trade-up opportunities. Many dealers schedule an automated trade-up email 2 years after purchase.

Like sequences, automated emails allow you to send the right email at the right time, even years after the initial sale. 

3. Send Special Event Emails

Joe Girard, the legendary car salesman who sold over 13,000 vehicles in 15 years (his one-year record was 1,425 vehicles with zero fleet sales), was famous for the monthly greeting cards he sent to customers. He sent cards on birthdays, major holidays, minor holidays, and sometimes, just because.

Joe did it to stay top of mind. You should do the same, but you don’t have to send physical cards. With special event emails, you can schedule messages months ahead of time and send them to all your customers at once.

You may not want to send a special event email every month like Joe. At the very least, a special message to customers on their birthdays and major holidays. 

4. Personalize Your Emails

Do you ever get emails that are clearly mass-mailed? They start with a generic greeting (e.g., “Hello there”) and go on to share a generic message. Customers are smart and can sniff out mass-marketed junk mail. It’s an instant delete.

Instead, use personalized emails to grab their attention and share a message they care about. Start with their name, (e.g., “Hey Jenny!”) and mention their vehicle by make and model (e.g., “Hope your red Honda Accord is treating you well”). End the message with a reminder to come in for service (e.g., “Your last oil change was April 2019”) and a final personal touch that shows them you care (e.g., “Say hi to your husband, Greg for me.”)

That all sounds great, but how do you personalize every single email? With the right email marketing tool, you can use personalization tokens—called merge tags—to add personalized information from your CRM to each email. It takes no extra work on your end—just add the merge tag and let your email marketing tool do the rest. 

5. Respond to First Emails Fast

The car-buying journey has changed drastically from the good ol’ days. The majority of the buying process happens before a customer ever contacts your dealership. That means, when they do finally reach out, you need to act fast.

When an email lead comes in, you need to respond as quickly as possible. Don’t leave it up to chance—instead of manually following up, set up an Auto-Responder email that gets automatically sent to each new inquiry.

The purpose of the Auto-Responder message is to let the customer know you’ve received their email and someone will respond as soon as possible. You can also use merge tags to personalize the message with the person’s name and the vehicle they’re asking about.

6. Avoid Spam and Follow Email Marketing Rules

Dealers often wonder why their customer emails end up in SPAM folders. The truth is, even if you use an email marketing tool (like Selly’s email tool), you’re not guaranteed to avoid SPAM filters.

We recently wrote another article on best practices to avoid SPAM filters. Check these out before sending your next email campaign.

There are other important rules you need to follow as well, or you risk hefty fines. The primary regulation you must remember is CAN-SPAM, which states that email messages:

  • May not contain false or deceptive headers or subject lines.
  • Must include an opt-out option, with requests fulfilled within 10 business days.
  • Must contain the sender’s valid physical postal address.
  • Must be identified as ads.

New privacy laws in California and Europe are even more strict about how you email customers. To be safe, always be sure to email people who have opted-in to your messages. 

Go Further With Email Marketing 

You need to make the most of every potential deal. Email marketing helps you build a relationship with customers and nurture them to close. With the right email marketing tool, you can automate your emails so that you always send the right message at the right time. Remember to follow best practices, as well as the law, to improve your email effectiveness and avoid fines.

Earlier this decade, many skeptics believed that email was dead. We see now that email is far from dead, and will continue to be a strong marketing channel for the next decade to come. Supercharge your email marketing with automation and by following these best practices.

Did you enjoy this article from Zach Klempf? Read other articles from him here.

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