We Tested VinSolutions Email Marketing — Here’s How It Went

We Tested VinSolutions Email Marketing — Here’s How It Went

Wondering whether to try the email marketing tool within your dealership CRM?

It certainly would be easy, wouldn’t it? You’re already using the other features in your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Why not use the marketing email feature too?

Well, automotive CRMs aren’t exactly known for being robust. Most are barebones at best, which is why many automotive marketers turn to third-party email marketing vendors.

So, which platform is best for your dealership email marketing?

In this post, we’ll compare CRM email tools to other email marketing vendors. We’ll also give you a peek into our own email test with the popular CRM platform VinSolutions.

CRM Email vs. Other Email Vendors

As a digital marketing agency for auto dealers, we typically recommend sending dealership emails from a reputable third-party vendor, like HubSpot or SharpSpring.

Lately, though, we’ve begun to test and even recommend sending straight from the CRM in certain cases.

Which method, then, is right for your dealership? That depends on your budget, your marketing needs, and your overall business goals.

When to Send Emails from a Third-Party Platform

  • You want access to more powerful features. Simply put, third-party email vendors offer more and better benefits — especially if they provide marketing automation, which allows you to send automated emails to contacts whenever they meet certain criteria. With superior options for segmentation, testing, analytics, and more, third-party platforms can take your email marketing to the next level.
  • You want to design more attractive emails. Third-party vendors typically offer an easier and more enjoyable email creation process than your CRM. With a more intuitive builder tool and pre-made templates to choose from, email software allows you to design emails that look good and function well across all email clients and devices.
  • You care about mobile responsiveness and deliverability. We’ve written before about how sending from your CRM can impact your email deliverability (and not in a good way). To ensure your emails are hitting the inbox and not the spam folder, you may want to opt for an email platform with a more reliable sender reputation.

When to Send Emails from Your CRM

  • You can’t afford a third-party platform. Email software, especially when combined with marketing automation, can be expensive. Sending from your CRM is typically included with your account and can be more easily co-op-able, depending on your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards.
  • You have a smaller staff and/or amount of inventory. Powerful email marketing software may not be necessary for some small dealerships. If your staff is struggling to keep up with the tools you’re already using, you may not want to add another to the mix. And while proper list segmentation is important for any-sized dealership, smaller dealers may be able to get away with the more basic segmentation options found in most automotive CRMs.
  • You like having all your data in one place. Even with CRM email, not all your data will be in one place — you’ll still want to consult tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Offline Events to get the full picture of your marketing. But your CRM can help you more seamlessly make the connection between your marketing emails and the sales that were (or weren’t) influenced by them.

What if I Don’t Even Know Where to Start?

That’s okay! We all start somewhere with automotive email marketing.

We’ve written a ton of blog posts about best practices for dealership emails, as well as an entire eBook, which you can download for free here.

Our team is also happy to chat through what a successful email marketing strategy for your dealership would look like.

What Makes a Good Dealership Email?

We Tested CRM Email Marketing with VinSolutions — Here’s What We Found

Historically, we’ve been skeptical about sending marketing emails from an automotive CRM. (We aren’t the only ones with concerns, either.)

But recently, as more clients have asked us about the email capabilities in various CRMs, we figured we’d better do our due diligence.

So when the opportunity arose to try the VinSolutions email marketing tool for a client, we jumped at the chance. (After all, we love testing new things to improve our partners’ results.)

This fall, we ran a three-month test of the VinSolutions email feature, in which we sent three separate emails to unique lists each time.

Here’s what we learned:

  • We could do it. Having never emailed straight from VinSolutions before, we weren’t sure how the process would go. Once we figured out some of the quirks (like having to send separate emails to separate lists, or being able to select only a date — not a time — when scheduling emails), our confidence in VinSolutions grew.
  • It wasn’t all that bad. We didn’t know whether the best practices we’ve come to adopt for other email platforms would translate well to VinSolutions. Although we did lament the lack of some features (see above), we were able to follow most of the steps we normally employ for automotive email marketing.
  • In fact, some of it was quite good. When it came time for email reporting, we were pleased to discover that, in addition to some of the basic metrics you’d expect to see in the campaign dashboard (e.g. open rate and click-through rate), VinSolutions takes it a step further with metrics like phone calls made, showroom visits, and even an “ROI Summary,” which shows actual leads and sales attributed to the email. What an efficient way to close the attribution gap!

What did we learn, ultimately? That CRM email marketing is actually a viable option for some dealerships — one we’ll likely recommend in certain instances in the future (though we’ll still use HubSpot or SharpSpring if we can manage it). 😉

The “ROI Summary” in the VinSolutions Campaign Dashboard

Improve Your Dealership Email Marketing with 9 Clouds

However you choose to send marketing emails from your dealership, we hope you just do.

Again, we’re more than happy to help you get started with email or improve your current strategy. Learn more about our email marketing services for auto dealers, and in the meantime, download our free eBook below!

Email Marketing for Auto Dealers (3rd Edition)

This eBook will teach you how to:

  • Get started with email
  • Integrate email into your entire marketing strategy
  • Measure email success
  • Set email goals that align with your overall goals
  • Design a beautiful email
  • And more!
Email marketing ebook for dealerships

Download Your Free Copy Now!