How to Drive New Car Sales with Email Marketing
Marketing is getting savvier, today’s consumers are more technically advanced, and digital seems to be ruling all. As more consumers turn to digital channels to look and research their next automobile, dealerships are keeping up by embracing data-driven and digital strategies. However with all these shiny new marketing tactics, dealerships may be ignoring one of the top producers of sales prospects – email marketing.
Email brings in about 39% of a dealership’s leads, according to Larry Bruce, Vice President of Naked Lime. According to Naked Lime research, “emails fetch more than three times as many leads as direct mail (12%), paid search (11%) and organic search (9%). Traditional media, such as TV and radio, account for 4% and social media 2%.”
A great example of a dealership using email to drive leads is Two Rivers Ford, a single location operation. Email accounts for 30% of monthly sales, which averages to about 45 to 60 vehicles at a cost of $5,000 per month.
Despite the tremendous boost email marketing can bring to sales, only 22% of dealerships report using email campaigns as a selling strategy (Benchmark Internet Group). Only 4% of dealerships said they have any plans to start using email in the future. The Benchmark study also revealed the following:
- 57% of dealerships send out email campaigns on a monthly basis
- Approximately one third of emails being deployed are newsletters that combine both informational content as well as sales offers and discounts
- Most respondents (73%) do not segment their lists and send out the same content to all subscribers
Purchased Email Leads
One of the most interesting aspects of the study was how dealerships obtain their email subscribers. While 29% of current subscribers are reported to be either current or past customers, purchased email leads from a third-party vendor account for the largest group at 36%.
Many list providers only have the ability to provide emails for anyone and everyone on file who lives within a certain proximity from your dealership. However, your email campaigns will be much more impactful and targeted when the record also contains selects such as exact make and model of the car they currently drive, year of vehicle, Blackbook value, other cars in the household, and demographic selects such as age, hobbies, and income.
An email marketing program is only as successful as the validity of the emails in your database. According to industry estimates, email decays at an average rate of 25% per year. Consumers move and change email addresses, opt out of email lists, or email addresses are simply abandoned. Email lists should be updated on a regular basis to validate emails, flag known complainers, identify addresses known to be associated with spam traps, and update with corrected emails.
The survey by Benchmark Internet Group revealed that 73% of dealerships use no form of segmentation in their email marketing. Sending mass emails is one of the quickest ways to get your prospects and consumers to unsubscribe and ignore all future communications. According to a survey by Gigya, consumers’ responses to irrelevant communications included:
Email segmentation lets you cut through the clutter by providing offers and communications based on segmented audiences or groups of consumers. There are countless ways to use segmentation. For example, you may segment by demographics. One group of consumers may have school age children and an offer for a larger family vehicle would be more appealing than an offer for a sports car. Different offers and different vehicles will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts as compared to a retired couple. Consider a range of characteristics such as age; income; lifestyle; hobbies; current make, model and age of their current vehicle; whether they own or lease; location; and so on.
While irrelevant emails may cause a significant loss in opportunities, a highly targeted email has quite the opposite effect. According to Lyris, email list segmentation results in:
- 39% – Increased Open Rates
- 34% – Greater Email Relevance
- 28% – Lower Opt-Out/Unsubscribe Rates
- 24% – Better Deliverability
- 24% – Increased Sales Leads
- 24% – Greater Revenue
In today’s multi-channel, digital world, email marketing continues to be a tried and true method that has the potential to bring huge results for auto dealers. With the right data, a well maintained email list, and a little ingenuity in audience segmentation, dealerships can create a huge uplift in revenue and sales.