How Can Email Marketing for Car Dealerships Supercharge Your Business?

Melanie Balke
December 18, 2023

Car dealerships are busy places.

Someone’s bound to be hustling! Between closing deals and keeping displays clean, there’s never a dull moment! However, it takes work to reach those heights. You can’t expect a brand-new car dealership to have the same pull as that hundred-year-old family-owned local staple. Similarly, you’d have to snag the loyal, existing customers from your competition to establish yourself within your local automotive industry.

Unfortunately, many marketing strategies are prohibitively expensive. Burgeoning car dealerships often struggle to scrape together the funds for a classic direct mail campaign. Even longstanding businesses can blow through an inadvisable social media marketing budget. So, what can you do?

Introducing your new best friend, email marketing.

This simple solution to marketing for car dealerships may seem like an old-fashioned addition to your lineup, but it’s far from useless! Today’s blog post is dedicated to the wonders of marketing emails, and I’m even throwing in some valuable tips and tricks to make your email marketing more effective.

So, keep scrolling! Stay tuned! You’re about to learn about the wonders of a successful email marketing strategy.

Why You Should Care About Automotive Email Marketing

A classroom. “The Perks: Why Emails Work.”

While the first email campaigns were sent in the 1980s, this marketing channel remains a dominant force in the digital sphere. Today, countless businesses — from realtors to retailers — reap the benefits of email marketing.

So, before I dole out some email marketing tips, I must touch on its benefits!

On the surface, email marketing remains the most cost-effective option. Its 4,400% potential ROI sets it apart from comparable marketing channels. Its adaptability offers marketers plenty of flexibility, enabling intense personalization. Moreover, emails are the preferred communication channel! 72% of consumers choose emails over other marketing channels — including social media.

But how does this help car dealerships?


Maintain Those Sales Funnels

Once you’ve started to run successful email marketing campaigns, you’re on the road to perennial success. Everything you send — all those targeted email campaigns and informative email messages — amplify your impact. They’re a touchstone for consumers, capable of generating more sales and boosting overall customer loyalty.

Now, this may seem irrelevant. But consider this: How often do you buy a new car? How often do your friends buy new cars? Unless you’re Cars McGhee, your answer is probably along the lines of “every few years.”

For car dealers, this means your customer retention is of utmost importance. Your brand relies on repeat business and strong customer relationships.

And here’s the great news: Email marketing makes every customer feel welcome. Even the most basic email templates have the potential to increase sales and accrue more traffic.

Much of this power comes from email’s adaptability. In a way, auto dealerships are no different from any other retailer. However, the lengthy sales process makes your customer base even more important! And this is where email marketing shines. Its customization and personalization capabilities accompany customers through every step of the journey, namely:

  1. Discovery: New subscribers and potential customers go here.
  2. Investigation: This is the longest pre-purchase phase. You’ll want personalized emails that cater to unique customer preferences. Keep customers engaged by showcasing the right car models and colors.
  3. Purchase: Everyone’s favorite phase! This is the perfect time to upsell and hone a consumer’s vehicle preferences. Many car companies offer “bundles” to purchasers, incentivizing larger sales.
  4. Post-Purchase and Loyalty: Don’t forget your previous buyers! Many car buyers return to beloved dealerships. Keep your target audience happy with online surveys, news, and informational campaigns.

Engage Customers With Relevant Content

The best email marketing for car dealerships understands the unique traits of each purchasing stage.

You wouldn’t see someone off your lot by spamming their inbox with promotional campaigns, and you won’t greet past customers like strangers. (Well… You could do these things, but I don’t recommend it!) Aspiring automotive dealerships must craft a seamless and engaging experience. Otherwise, you’re bound to lose customers!

Again, email marketing is your best friend.

This flexible marketing channel can tackle any challenge. Outside your standard promotional emails, you can craft uniquely personalized campaigns and build your brand story. You can make your content more than simple marketing for a car.

If you’re looking at pure numbers, email marketing messages are the perfect medium for growth. Informative newsletters easily funnel consumers to dealership websites, while a thoughtful, personalized message can encourage customers to spend a bit more on their next purchase. You can even build upon past emails! (More precisely, you can use A/B testing to optimize campaigns.)

And I’d be a poor teacher if I failed to mention the personal touch of email marketing. Emails are the perfect way to distribute service reminders and automotive news.

3 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy

The Los Angeles skyline. “Tips & Tricks: 3 Ways to Boost Your Emails.”

Of course, those are but a few of email’s greatest benefits. Think of them as the medium’s greatest hits! This blog post would be much longer if I listed every perk.

With that said, I promised to deliver some tips and tricks for email marketing for car dealerships. And, as a woman of my word, I’m more than happy to deliver!

For all its benefits, haphazard car dealers will quickly learn the pitfalls of email marketing. It can repel just as easily as it attracts new customers!

So, how can you ensure your email marketing strategies are a recipe for success?

1. Know Your Target Audience

The first step to successful email marketing for car dealerships is a one-two combo of personalization and segmentation. These similar-but-still-distinctly-different concepts will take your automotive email marketing to the next level. More importantly, these tactics will make your email marketing more personal and engaging.

Take, for example, this simple Subaru announcement:

A silver sedan. “The Wait Is Over: The 2019 STI S209 is HERE.”

I’ll break this email marketing strategy into its constituent parts. From the broadest to the narrowest segment, this email is meant for…

  1. Subscribed Brand Enthusiasts: These email campaigns are optional. They’re for Subaru’s subscribers, so they’re already known brand loyalists. Thus, marketers can safely eschew brand-building fluff!
  2. Potential Buyers: Get more specific. This announcement is for potential buyers.
  3. Sedan Fans: What about the make of this car? This is a nice, classic four-door sedan. There’s no need to puff up the email campaign with sedan praise; recipients already appreciate this versatile automotive style.
  4. Model Movers: Finally, this email is for fans of the STI S209!

It’s a simple system, but mastering your segmentation takes time.  As with any powerful tool, mastery requires practice. It’s not enough to deliver relevant content. You must deliver relevant, engaging content.

The most expensive approach is a high-end filtering system akin to a vehicular personality test. Consumers input their preferences and receive ideal recommendations. These selections may then be integrated into welcome emails and future email campaigns. Ideally, such setups store — at a minimum — the color, make, model, and price range for each customer.

However, if this is prohibitively expensive, there are easier ways for a car dealer to attract attention! Catchy subject lines and a polished dealership website go a long way.

2. Keep It Mobile-Friendly

Marketers must also keep an eye on each email’s mobile responsiveness.

Most modern consumers prefer mobile devices! 15% of American adults are mobile-only users, and those numbers only rise as time passes. So, mobile responsive email designs are the best way to generate more traffic and higher click-through rates.

Note, too, that mobile-friendly emails are generally made with email templates. These copy-and-paste layouts improve your brand’s production speed, decreasing downtime for your email list.

And don’t forget to make those landing pages mobile-friendly, too! Anyone opening an email with a mobile device will also see the webpage on the same screen. A mobile-friendly email is useless without a mobile-friendly website.

3. Communicate With Consumers

Finally, car dealers must strive to offer reliable communication. Those no-reply emails may be convenient, but they’re a surefire way to confuse older consumers and alienate younger buyers.

A Carvana email explains the website’s customization and filtering options.

Consider, too, the importance of customer service.

In the automotive industry, poor service leads to more than lost money. Leaving customers to guess your dealership’s stock ties up salespeople, forcing new customers to wait for in-person services. (And that problem only grows if you’re managing multiple locations.) Failing to account for a customer’s purchase history leads to subpar sales and a dismal lack of first-party data. And those are just two pitfalls of poor communication!

Summarily, your brand must strive to accommodate its customers’ every whim.

In doing so, your dealership establishes a personal connection with every consumer. You earn trust and build a reputation for professionalism. Moreover, the impact can be further amplified by using well-devised automated flows and AI-powered responses to establish a conversational marketing strategy.

Reduce Your Overhead and Boost Profits

Overlapping leaves. “Hire a Pro: Let Us Help You Grow.”

Of course, email marketing is far from simple.

An effective email marketing strategy requires eager customers, optimized email platforms, stellar subject lines, and well-maintained subscriber lists. Every email campaign must be spotless on desktop and mobile devices. Content must maintain up-to-date information and availability statistics. Summarily, your email marketing strategies rely on countless moving parts.

It’s a lot to manage, and many car dealerships are already busy!

That’s why I formed The Email Marketers. My team of marketing experts can tackle any problem, and we’re happy to manage your promotional emails.

We’ll cover every aspect of your planning — from content and strategy to distribution and management. All you have to do is contact us! Schedule a free strategy session to see the wonders of a good email subject line.