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Dealerships Are Using Email Marketing During COVID-19 to Increase Leads

Updated: Mar 21

If you think email marketing is dead, think again! Email marketing has become a critical piece to any dealership’s advertising plan, helping to create a true multi-channel marketing strategy. Email marketing is not only cost-effective and versatile, but it can be strategically targeted to the audience that matters most: customers in your CRM, auto intenders, those with specific professions, consumers that meet qualifying demographics, etc. The simplicity and trackability allows your dealership team to quickly separate those who are interested from those who are not.

Many dealerships actively utilize CRM email marketing. If you aren’t, then get started on that right away!  But relatively few dealerships regularly take advantage of the power in conquest email marketing, which allows dealers to reach new potential customers – whether it be auto intenders for your OEM or a competing brand.

Conquest email marketing leverages the power of audience segmentation to target specific needs, interests and qualifications of a prospective audience. Geographic location, in-market for new vehicles, used vehicles and service, luxury vehicle intenders, intenders by make, model and vehicle body type – the flexibility is all yours. Rather than send the same message or offers to everyone in your CRM, conquest email marketing enables you to reach those who are specifically interested (and/or qualified) for that specific message, which in-turn produces better results.

Pre-COVID-19, dealerships often leveraged conquest email marketing to highlight lease and finance offers, service coupons, used and CPO deals, trade offers and big sale events. Dealerships are now adding online buying, showroom appointments and pick-up/delivery options to the mix. During these uncertain times, dealerships are seeking all the business they can get, while buyers are looking for the best deals from the dealers who can accommodate their needs in a restrictive environment.

Email sends are also increasing during COVID-19, and recipients are positively responding to the uptick. Our automotive marketing agency is greatly surpassing Campaign Monitor’s 2020 Email Marketing Benchmark averages of 12.6% open rate, 9.8% click-to-view rate, and 1.2% click rate. Since the beginning of March 2020, we’re seeing open rates and click-to-view-rates as high as 20% and click rates as high as 2.5%! For example, from April 2020 to June 2020, a CBC Volkswagen client has seen its click-to-view rate increase 111%, from 9% to 19% on the first drop of its monthly multi-touch campaign!

Sometimes a one-and-done email is necessary, but more often we recommend a multi-touch email campaign. A multi-touch campaign consists of at least one drop, followed by a ‘re-touch’ drop to anyone that responded to the first one. To make the campaign more effective, we add on multiple drops to the original audience, as well as display and Facebook remarketing to the responder list. The goal is to highlight your dealership brand and your offers to intenders in the discovery phase, capture their attention and continue to keep them engaged up until their purchase decision – where your CRM ultimately takes over.

Here are two basic guidelines to get you started:

  1. Make sure the recipient has a reason to open the email. Choose a short yet enticing subject line that draws attention to your specific message. Refrain from using spammy words like ‘free’, words that are all capitalized, or excessive exclamation points. Emojis aren’t just for texting and posting on social media! Make sure you find the right balance, though. One is fine. Five is probably too many. Personalize the subject line when appropriate, especially when engaging with responders. Ideally, keep it under 60 characters. Make sure you don’t forget about the preview text that sits below the subject line. It’s best-practice to leverage a subject-line testing tool to see how it will come across in someone’s inbox.

  2. Make sure the email is compelling once opened. We recommend that a professional designs your email creative for you. You don’t want to lose a potential customer by sending them a disorganized or clunky email! Find the right balance between images and text. Make sure the call-to-action sits above the fold and that all images are linked to their respective pages on your dealership website – with UTM codes for tracking of course. Ensure that the creative is optimized for both desktop and mobile users. No one wants a slow-loading email. Finally, testing is important. Before the final live send, test your HTML on a mobile email platform, desktop email platform and desktop email browser to verify all links, buttons and images display and work properly.

Consider an automotive marketing agency with an in-house art department that can professionally design your email to showcase your dealership’s offerings, and an in-house digital team that can facilitate everything from audience segmentation and multi-touch strategy to final campaign reporting.

No matter the complexity of your audience targeting or depth of your campaign strategy, CBC Automotive Marketing is here to help. Let’s have a conversation today.

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