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With the recent economic hard-hits to the auto and auto dealership industries, many dealerships are finding it more and more difficult to generate the sales they need to stay operating in the black. One key marketing tool that can help boost your sales is email marketing—when done correctly. Recent research done by the Direct Marketing Association revealed that email marketing in 2008 generated an average return of investment of $45.06 for every dollar spent on the initial campaign! In this blog, we’re going to show you the top 10 ways to correctly run your dealership email marketing efforts so you can separate yourself from the competition.
1. Quality Content Is King
Above all else, quality content is king. Leave out all the noise and fluff and stick to what’s important. Spend the time getting to really know your market and send only what interests them the most. Don’t send a bunch of junk as filler. We are all familiar with the ubiquitous spam emails that pile up in our junk email boxes, yet when it comes to email marketing copy, many dealerships continue to make the same mistakes by loading their emails with a plethora of sales copy that no human wants to read. The consequence is little-to-nill conversion. In addition, your emails are likely getting picked up by spam filters. The key to writing effective copy that will promote sales is to write engaging copy that’s authoritative, easily digestible and informative. In time, these types of emails (with the right message) will build loyalty, trust, and sales.
2. Build Your Email Lists: Once you’ve started to build loyalty with customers, keep the momentum rolling and start collecting email addresses. Use regular freebees and specials to lure them in, and once you’ve gained their trust, ask your future customer for their email address so you can inform them of upcoming, even more personalized special offers.
3. Build Trust by Announcing Regular Specials
Once you've started collecting email addresses, you can send your customers and subscribers regular updates letting them know what your specials are. Sending regular discount offers is a great way to get your customers familiar with you and your site. Ideally, you want to turn first-time customers into regular customers who will buy from you again and again. Offering free services like carwashes, detailing and tire rotations give the perfect opportunity for new potential customers to come down to your dealership and peruse your auto selection while they wait for their free services!
4. Split Testing
So you’ve spent the time to write great copy for your email blast and you’ve sent it out to no avail. One of the key things to remember is that nobody gets it right the first time, which is why you need to test, test, and test again—until you get it right. It is critical that you or your marketing team test the numerous variables (one variable at a time) that combine together to create an effective campaign. These variables include the offer, the creative, the list, the links and the landing page. It may take several test launches, but in the end its worth it to take the time and really examine what you did right and what you did wrong so you can better amalgamate the right marketing components to your to-be customers.
5. Landing Pages
One of the biggest offenders in email marketing is the landing page. Do not just "drop off" the recipient onto the marketers' home page. Instead, take the time and send them to a custom-designed landing page that is consistent with the offer in the email. Landing pages prevent the recipient from getting lost and ensure that they see what you want them to see first.
6. Link Placement
Perhaps the second biggest offender in email marketing is the placement of the links. You or your marketers should make sure the link is placed either as the (call to action) or just following your email’s call to action. You’re recipient’s attention span will generally be a fraction of a second unless you hook them right away! Position your call to action and links within the first paragraph of the message. One of the biggest blunders that’ll cost you is to make the email recipient search the message by scrolling to find the link and the overall meaning of the message.
7. Follow up With Your Leads
You can use email to follow up with people you have spoken with personally, but who have not made a purchase. Offer to answer any additional questions they may have, and let them know that you are available to speak with them at their convenience. This can dramatically increase your chances of closing a sale by providing your leads with extra information they're not expecting.
8. Market Other Departments, Not Just Auto Sales
More often than not, auto dealerships fail to market the other departments of their business including parts service, body shop finance, and auto repair, which are all huge opportunities to generate a ton of cash even when sales are down. Use engaging copy to inform both current and potential customers of your service and why its better than the competition. Let your customers know your mechanics are manufacturer-certified and are more thoroughly trained than the average Joe Shmo mechanic.
9. Make Sign-Up Easy
If you’re trying to run an email marketing campaign, remember—you only need their email address. You might want their first name, so you can personalize their email, but even this should be optional. Don't require postal address, last name, and especially phone number. Requiring a phone number can often cut your signups by at least 80%. If you choose to go with fields like: prefixes, birthday, or gender—be prepared to get zero returns. Why make it hard?
10. Stay on Target
Know your target market and don’t allow yourself to stray off course. Some marketers randomly send emails to people who have absolutely no interest in what is being advertised. Not only will this type of desperation deliver a very low response rate it can increase your spam complaints. Ask every customer and site visitor if they are interested in receiving e-mail advertisements and promotions from you.
If your email marketing efforts are unsuccessful, take some time to mull over these points. If you think that your email marketing is loaded with sales copy, it could be a sure-fire indication why your efforts are unsuccessful. Take the time and use these tools to pinpoint what your customers want, and then give it to them..