9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Stop Shouting: A Closer Look at Marketing Automation vs. Email Blasts

When it comes to marketing, you don't have time to talk to everyone one-on-one, and they don't have time to deal with you.

Since the beginning of email marketing, companies have been blasting away offers to their databases, and yielding increasingly mediocre results. No matter how amazing the offer in the email is, it won't get the attention it deserves if you blast it to your whole database. A great message deserves the attention of its audience, and vice versa.

Automatic doesn't mean impersonal. Whether its an oil change reminder, a trade equity message or a simple check-in from a sales consultant – the robotic pieces of your communication don't have to be one-size-fits-all. Marketing automation requires more than a set-it-and-forget-it attitude. While it is robotic, your automated messages should delight your contacts with content they actually want to see.

A delightfully relevant message sent to a select few will always yield better results than a one-size-fits-all message sent to the whole crowd. With current inbound marketing software such as HubSpot, your delightfully relevant messages can be automated and scaled. It only takes a nominal investment of time to set up your personas, personalization and platforms.

Treat your customers like your employees.

When your dealership hires someone, you care about their story. You want someone who has a great record and a high level of motivation. In order to engage and keep employees, you need to really know what makes them tick. The same goes for your leads and customers.

How much effort do you put into understanding your customers?

As we discussed in our recent post on smarketing, effective digital marketing starts with a desire to know your customers. That's the first step towards setting up an automated marketing system.

When you look at your database of customers, look for trends. The data in your CRM can unlock several insights into your customers and the way they tick. It can also uncover some gaps in your business. For example, if only 25% of your vehicle customers use your service drive, you could remind them to do so – and maybe even include a coupon. Or, if you know they're from out of town and won't be likely to stick around, encourage them to follow you on social media so that you can sustain the relationship outside of their email inbox.

Marketing Automation vs. Email Blasts

Like most dealers, you've probably sent bulk email messages to certain segments of your customers who meet a couple points of criteria. For example, a typical email blast with a vehicle offer will go out to:

  • People who haven't purchased in the past 2 or 3 years
  • Who currently own models in the same segment as the car being offered (i.e. mid-size sedans)

While they will reach the right people, email blasts will also reach more of the wrong people. With marketing automation, your dealership can do a heck of a lot better than that.

This “email blast” method is outdated and ineffective. It's time to start acknowledging the individual.

Marketing automation involves several key points of data for each customer. Automated marketing is a more effective strategy than blanketing a huge list of people with the same exact message. This strategy involves three key things:

1. Personas

Even though they both may have bought or converted at the same time, the baby boomer who only buys Silverado 2500 HD's will likely have a different set of values than the Millennial who won't drive anything that gets less than 40 MPG. You need to know that a segment has like values and also have that list ready for a message. These personas are much more detailed than the segments used for email blasts.

For example, a persona can be: Millennials (people with birthdates between 1980 and 1992) who live in your market (let's say a 20-mile radius of your dealership) who have converted on a form on your website within the last 3 months, but have not engaged with the dealership's calls or initial personal emails.

Once you really understand your audience, you'll be able to acknowledge their needs and values in your message.

2. Thoughtful message personalization

As we discussed in a recent post on marketing automation for car dealers, a clearly defined persona allows you to send a message that is much more relevant, more detailed and more delightful to receive than an email blast. Unlike email blasts, marketing automation messages involve a more personal level of communication.

How long has it been since that person bought their last vehicle, had their last service RO, or expressed interest in a new vehicle? What city do they live in? Are they married? Have they purchased multiple vehicles in the past? Have they spent a huge amount of money repairing their used car in the past month?

This is all useful for creating your persona in #1. In practice, personalization involves auto-filled fields and dynamic content in emails, web pages and retargeting ads.

3. Multi-platform inbounding

Inbound marketing is the opposite of TV, print or radio. Instead of pushing your message to everyone, we push the message from #2 to the people in #1. We know what needs to be said and who needs to hear it, but how do we deliver it?

Although it yields a higher message-to-purchase rate than social media or PPC ads, email isn't everything. In order to sustain a meaningful relationship with your contacts, you're going to have to climb out of their inboxes.

Inbound marketing agencies (like yours truly) are using special software to find and connect with potential customers in places like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ in addition to email marketing. This allows us to see where people are spending their time online, so we can put the best personalized content in front of them.

Marketing Automation Requires Commitment

The dealerships who dedicate resources to personalizing their digital marketing will yield a much higher ROI and pull ahead of their competition who sticks solely to a broadcast strategy. We at 9 Clouds believe in the power of inbound marketing because we have the data to prove that it works. When you send the right message to only the right people, your message will:

  • Create an unexpected feeling of delight for your contact
  • Encourage more meaningful, longer-term relationships
  • Prevent annoying the rest of your database with irrelevant offers
  • Boost (by design) the areas of your business that need it the most
  • Solidify a positive reputation of professionalism and intelligence for your store

Does your dealership use marketing automation or automatic email messaging in its CRM? We want to hear from you in the comment section. 9 Clouds is ready to answer any of your marketing-related questions and help you overcome your biggest digital challenges.


At 9 Clouds, we believe so strongly in marketing automation that we won’t work without it – for clients or for ourselves.

Interested in learning how marketing automation can help you unlock the potential of your data? Contact us to schedule time to chat about your current marketing and how automation software could make it more efficient and effective. If you want to dive in, try a 30 day demo of marketing automation.


Image: Thomas Lennon Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum