Automotive Email Marketing: The Complete Guide

Categories: Email marketing
Updated: July 01, 2021


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I don’t know anyone that wants to purchase a car, wakes up in the morning, gets ready, and says, “I think I’m going to a car showroom today and buy one.”

Instead, they first get online and visit different websites, forums, blogs, and dealership websites. And this isn’t your typical Pinterest audience who got bored and now wants to gawk expensive ideas. They’re mid to high intent customers.

The good news - they have email addresses!

The bad news - there are a lot of things they don’t teach us at school, and email marketing is one.

So, we’re here to help and dive into the whys and hows of automotive email marketing. Let’s explore!

Table of contents

Why is email marketing great for the auto industry?

Let’s put it simply. Email marketing is actually a robust and vibrant way to connect with people. Think about your own experience. Do you even know anyone who doesn’t have an email address? You probably receive marketing emails every week.

Still thinking email marketing isn’t something for your dealership? Let us give you 6 reasons why email marketing is a channel that you should not be ignoring.

  • Email marketing works much more effectively than social media for customer acquisition.
  • It’s cost-effective
  • It’s personal and customizable
  • It’s action-oriented
  • It’s measurable
  • Mobile devices allow people to check their emails regularly

5 automotive email marketing ideas

Below are 5 ideas to help you effectively run your automotive email marketing campaign.

1. Welcome email

Welcome emails can make a big difference because that is when the recipient is highly engaged. It is, in fact, not really to drive sales but to make the recipient feel that they’ve made the right decision and make the experience memorable for them, so they’ll keep returning.

Here is an example from Volkswagen:

Welcome email from Volkswagen
Welcome email from Volkswagen

2. Service reminders

Everyone thinks that they’ll remember for sure to get that tire changed or fuse fixed next week. Then everyone forgets - every time.

That’s where you can show you care by sending them a friendly reminder for servicing at regular intervals. This will keep your brand on top of their mind, and your emails come across as useful rather than “one-more-promotion.”

You can consider these as marketing opportunities and add links or images of featured products, promote your upcoming offers, or give the incentive to check your blog or join your social media channels.

Here’s how Nissan does it:

A service reminder email from Nissan
A service reminder email from Nissan

3. Tech updates

When Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida in 2017, Tesla issued an over-the-air update to drivers, then sent this email to its customers.

A tech updates emails from Tesla
A tech updates emails from Tesla

Taking advantage of the power of email marketing for such companies is essential as there would be constant updates and innovations, and email marketing is one of the most affordable ways to communicate.

4. Informational and promotional email

Another email from Tesla is an excellent example of how to market your car.

Initially, this email looks like simply providing some cool information around carbon footprint, but then it leads to a simple CTA (call-to-action) to “start your count.”

So, it is designed to be promotional but also acts informative.

An informational & promotional email from Tesla
An informational & promotional email from Tesla

Let’s notice some good parts of this email:

  • It’s minimal and clean, with a lot of white space around the text, images, and CTAs. Plus, the CTAs are clearly distinguished with different colors.
  • The copy is crisp and effective.
  • The whole email is brand-aligned with brand fonts and colors.

5. Cross-selling email

You should incorporate cross-selling in your emails to reap the benefits of hard-won customers. Just don’t leave this on the table for others to grab.

The below email by Audi is a great example of how to cross-sell the right way in your emails.

A cross-selling email from Audi
A cross-selling email from Audi

Let’s look at what they do right:

  • The image incorporates the product, captures readers’ attention, and is apt for the topic being discussed in the email.
  • The CTAs in red are distinctly visible from the rest of the email.
  • It is short, to-the-point, and focuses on one thing - to get readers to check out the winter tires.
  • It is personalized with the recipients’ name and sign off coming from a person of authority, which makes it genuine and compels to be taken seriously.

Are you now still thinking - does email marketing work for you?

Let us tell you that if you manage to use the right email marketing tips, the answer is a “hell yes.

10 tips to boost your automotive email marketing campaign

1. Start with a quality list

Firstly, you need to make sure your email list is up-to-date with accurate and relevant prospect and customer details.

Start with a quality list
Start with a quality list

According to Kevin Root of Dealer Marketing Magazine, the average leadership has less than 10% accurate email addresses for their total customer base. Email lists should be maintained on an ongoing basis. Emails become outdated quickly, with data decaying by about 22.5% each year as people move, abandon their old email addresses, switch email providers, or opt-out of your email lists.

To comply with CAN-SPAM laws, reduce spam complaints, boost deliverability, and ultimately get more prospects and customers engaging with your dealership, you need to maintain a healthy email database.

Unluckily, not all email providers or list brokers are equally created. Many email lists are available for purchase but make sure to do your due diligence before spending your marketing dollars on bad data.

Third-party email providers should use strict quality controls to maintain high-quality email addresses, use sourcing strategies to compile and aggregate data from multiple sources, and use validation processes to identify addresses known to be associated with spam traps, complainers, invalid emails and domains, known hard-bounces, and more.

Read more: 11 Email Marketing List Management Practices & Tools

2. Add specialty auto data into your records

Email records often contain bits and pieces of who your prospects and customers actually are. You may have their names, phone numbers, and if you’ve been diligent about maintaining your CRM system, some records may include the make and model of their car.

Customers expect highly personalized emails and will quickly delete those that aren’t, or even worse, will unsubscribe from your lists altogether if they receive an irrelevant email. You don’t want to send an email for a high-end sports car to a family with three children. You’re more likely to get a much higher response rate by targeting them with an email promotion for a larger family vehicle, such as a minivan or SUV.

So, to segment your email list to this level, you need to have the right data on who your prospects and customers are.

  • What is the make, model, year of the vehicle they’re currently driving?
  • What is their age, gender, location, occupation, lifestyle, and estimated income?
  • Are they in positive equity?
  • Do they have any other vehicles in their house?

With the right data, you’re able to create highly targeted and segmented email campaigns that will drive the highest conversion.

3. Use triggered email and marketing automation

With email campaign automation, you can streamline the process of engaging and converting customers. Emails triggered by customer behavior can actually increase intention, revenue per email, CLV (customer lifetime value), and ROI (return on investment).

Using dynamic content (content automatically adapts to the subscriber’s interests), emails can be developed to feature particular makes and models or customer information, such as their names and birth dates, that allow dealers to connect with their customers on a personal level.

With AVADA Email Marketing, you can send pre-done email automation series to follow up with your customers at any touchpoint. Furthermore, with its advanced segmentation features, you can be sure that your emails will automatically reach the right people at the right time.

AVADA Email Marketing automation email series
AVADA Email Marketing automation email series

The platform supports the following automation emails series:

  • Welcome emails
  • Transactional emails, review request
  • Abandoned cart emails, browse product abandonment
  • Cross-sell, upsell emails
  • Win-back emails

Amazingly, the platform offers a free plan for you to get started. So, don’t hesitate to test it out today!


4. Focus on your subject line

Have you ever received an email, only to send it to the trash bin solely based on the subject line? You are not alone!

Your subject line can make or break your entire campaign. So, spend time brainstorming various subject lines for each email. And if your email marketing platform allows for it, test out different subject lines to determine which copy generates the best results.

When working on your email subject lines, keep these things in mind:

  • Personalize it
  • Consider using emojis
  • Make it short and sweet

Related topic: How to Write The Best Subject Lines for Open Rates?

5. Respond to every email inquiry

Studies show that the average company takes more than 12 hours in order to respond to a customer’s email. That is better than the old one business day standard, but is it fast enough?

At some point, your prospects will stop waiting for your response and move on to the next company. If you really desire to set yourself apart from the competition, you need to provide prompt email responses.

Respond to every email inquiry
Respond to every email inquiry

Even if you need some extra time to get the question answered, ensure you follow up and let your client know that you’re on it. By doing so, you can create loyalty and hopefully a future sale.

6. Offer fresh content

Nobody wants to read the same boring content over and over again. You should provide a healthy mix of content to entice car buyers. It’s ideal to regularly switch your content between sales, discounts, new inventory, financing, and how-to articles.

Provide them with content related to current news about the car brand you carry, improving gas mileage, and safety tips for driving in poor weather conditions. To get an idea of what customers actually want to know, listen to their questions asked on the showroom floor.

Then, customize your emails to create the engaging content they want.

7. Give rewards for loyalty

It’s great to promote incentives and rewarding loyalty in your automotive email marketing campaigns. You could set milestones throughout the year and the overall lifecycle of your customers. Depending on how long (as well as to what extent) they’ve been loyal to your dealership, offer rewards along the way.

You can offer:

  • Freebies or discounts on engine check-ups, oil changes, cleanings, etc.
  • Gift certificates and prize contests
  • Content giveaways, such as e-books or videos

8. Make sure your emails are mobile-responsive

Most people read emails on mobile devices. When emails don’t render correctly on mobile, they will simply delete them. You can’t expect a customer to save your message and reopen it on their desktop at a later time.

Make sure your emails are mobile-responsive
Make sure your emails are mobile-responsive

Not only should you use mobile-responsive templates for your emails, but you should also test your emails to make sure they display correctly across all platforms before you send them.

9. Show you care about feedback

What is the best way to catch someone’s attention? Ask for their opinions.

Make your customers feel like they’re valued assets to your business. Not just as a normal customer, but a loyal partner. Show that you really care about their opinions on how to improve your service quality.

Remember to keep your automotive email marketing “micro” focused. If you’d like to connect with your customers on a personal level and receive feedback, send him an email. Just for him.

If he has a specific concern or complaint, use this opportunity to fix the problem. By responding to feedback in a positive way, you’ll win the respect and loyalty of your customers. If he’s ecstatic about the prompt service, go a step further, then ask him to provide a testimonial.

10. Have your customers spread the word

Last but not least, there is no better advertising than WOM (word of mouth). Creating loyal customers helps you promote your dealership better than anything else. Creating engaging content and delivering it to the right people provides a better chance for your emails to be shared.

Customers will forward your emails or share them on social media platforms if they’re valuable. Make sure all your emails contain a simple-to-use share button in order to make it easier than ever before.

The bottom line

Email marketing is a necessity for the auto industry. From sending educational content and converting someone to a loyal customer, email marketing is a valuable asset and tool.

We hope you’ve learned something helpful in this blog guide. When you are ready to take the next step with your automotive email marketing efforts, the team at AVADA is right here to help. Feel free to contact us for more information! Thanks for reading!

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