5 Automotive Email Marketing Practices to Ditch in 2021

5 Automotive Email Marketing Practices to Ditch in 2021

Automotive email marketing can be either your dealership’s BFF or a thorn in your side. 

We’ve already preached the good news that email is still reigning queen when it comes to marketing. And contrary to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving the royal family, email marketing for auto dealers isn’t going anywhere. 

For over a decade, 9 Clouds has been working with auto dealers and other businesses to craft an intuitive email marketing strategy that engages and delights your audience. 

Throughout the last 10 years, we’ve also seen some pretty horrendous car dealer email designs and sending practices. We (and your entire CRM database) need them to stop!

Here are the top email marketing practices to give up for good in 2021.

5 Email Marketing Practices to Give Up

1. Not Sending Marketing Emails at All

The first email marketing practice to stop immediately is . . . well, not sending emails from your dealership at all. 

While your sales staff may communicate directly with customers through their work emails, your dealership should also be sending creative promotional emails to qualified contacts in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Think everyone just ignores email in 2021? Consider this: 86% of professionals name email as their favorite mode of communication

Now, consider your own email habits. If I had to guess, you definitely engage with at least a few emails from brands or businesses every week. And the emails you do ignore probably shouldn’t have been sent to you in the first place.

One of the best aspects of email marketing is the cost — or, rather, lack of cost. Most email marketing platforms are affordable or even free, so you’re almost guaranteed a positive return on investment (ROI)! 

What to Do Instead

If your dealership has a CRM with accurate contact information and vehicle data, there’s no excuse to not send email!

Not sure where to begin with email? Start with our many available email marketing resources for auto dealers!

Download our free eBook, Email Marketing for Auto Dealers, to get started with email marketing and learn our best strategies for automotive email marketing that converts!

2. “Blasting” Your Entire CRM

You’ve heard the phrase “email blast.” Heck, maybe you even mentioned it in your last marketing meeting.

Email blasting is the practice of sending a single email to a majority or all of the contacts in your CRM, regardless of where they may be in the buyer’s journey

Why is this bad? Consider these three contacts in your CRM:

  • Jack: Purchased a new F-150 truck three months ago
  • Sam: Submitted a test drive form on your website for an F-150 
  • Staci: Owns a 2012 F-150 and has not purchased a truck since

Now, let’s say your dealership’s marketing manager wants to send an email promoting this month’s lease offers on a new F-150. Should Jack, Sam, and Staci all receive this email? Probably not. 

What to Do Instead

Sam should definitely receive this email, as he has indicated he’s interested in an F-150 by completing the test drive form on your website. 

Staci would also be a good contact to include in this email, as she has owned her 2012 F-150 for eight years and may be looking to upgrade soon. 

Jack shouldn’t receive this email of F-150 lease offers, as he just purchased three months ago and most likely won’t be ready to purchase again for at least a couple more years. Jack is better suited to be sent emails promoting service or dealership event emails. 

Bigger is not always better when it comes to email send lists for car dealers.

Typically, the smaller the list, the more qualified those contacts are to take the action you want!

3. Skipping the A/B Test

So you’ve built your beautiful email and have your perfect list. You’re ready to click “send” . . . but are you forgetting something?

Based on our experience working with auto dealers, very few are taking the time to A/B test their dealership emails. Also referred to as split testing, A/B testing is comparing two versions of an email with one single variable in order to see which one performs better. 

It’s easy to get into a habit of sending the same type of email at the same time of day you always send emails. But is this strategy actually working for you? Have you tested it out against other variables?  

What to Do Instead

While your test results won’t always be conclusive, consistently incorporating A/B testing into your email marketing will help you refine your strategy to see which methods work best for your dealership. 

Need some A/B test inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite email variables to test:

  • Subject line
  • Sender name
  • Call-to-action (CTA) button
  • Image banner of offers vs. bulleted offer list
  • Send time

A/B testing every single email is a bit much, and you’re bound to get burned out. 

Begin by testing emails that are scheduled to send to your larger lists. These tests will produce more reliable results and give you better insight into how your customers engage with your emails. 

4. Not Making Your Email Mobile Friendly

Yes, we understand you are likely building and designing your dealership’s emails on a desktop computer, but a large chunk of your audience will be viewing those emails on their mobile devices. 

According to HubSpot, 46% of all email opens were on a mobile device in 2019, and that number is expected to increase in 2021. 

Unfortunately, what may look awesome on a desktop may not look as great on mobile. Plus, images and columns can easily become distorted when they aren’t formatted correctly. Subject lines and preview text may also be shortened on mobile. 

Don’t think a stretched-out image or off-centered CTA button will affect your email performance? If an email displays poorly, no matter how good the content is, it’s likely to be deleted in under three seconds

What to Do Instead

Most email marketing platforms will give you an option to preview the email on mobile devices before you send, like HubSpot does:

Preview your emails on mobile

We also recommend sending a test version to yourself to see how the email renders on your own mobile device. 

Looking for more email design help? How about free automotive email templates? Download your copy of our eBook, Email Templates for Auto Dealers, to kick-start your dealership’s emails.

5. Assuming All of Your Contacts Want to Receive Email

Good digital marketing relies on good data, especially when it comes to your email lists. 

While most people who provide their email address to your dealership are okay with receiving email communication, you should not assume this is the case for everyone

In light of Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, data privacy regulations will continue to be a priority for marketers and any business sending email. 

If too many people mark your car dealership emails as spam, you could be at risk of being unable to send emails in the future.  

What to Do Instead

To prevent your dealership’s email marketing from deliverability setbacks, it’s important to make sure your CRM data is clean.

Talk to your sales team about accurate data entry, and regularly cleanse your CRM of email addresses that have bounced or unsubscribed.

You can also choose to adopt a double opt-in strategy for your dealership’s email marketing. It’s called a “double” opt-in process because, along with providing you their email address through a form submission or simply giving it to a salesperson, a contact will also need to take a second step: clicking on a confirmation email. 

There are many pros and cons to the double opt-in method, and we break them down here

Get More Email Marketing Tips for Auto Dealers

Ditching outdated email best practices isn’t the only way to improve automotive email marketing.

Learn how to craft a personal and effective email marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals when you download our eBook, Email Marketing for Auto Dealers!

Download Our Email Marketing eBook