[Case Study] Smalltown Auto Dealer Uses Lead Scoring to Nurture Shoppers Through Email

The key to a successful email marketing strategy is to send the right message to the right person at the right time.

In the automotive space, unfortunately, this doesn’t often happen. It’s simply easier to “blast” your entire contact database with your monthly vehicle incentives. That means any of the following examples could occur:

  • A lead, interested in a sedan, gets an email about a truck offer.
  • A previous electric vehicle customer receives an email about your service department’s oil change special, which they don’t need.
  • A customer who purchased a new SUV from you last week receives your email begging him to schedule a test drive in . . . a new SUV.

In any of these cases, the email recipient may unsubscribe — or, if you’re lucky, simply be irritated.

Listen, your contacts’ email address are too valuable to your business to neglect treating them with care and intention.

So, how does a savvy dealership nurture their email contacts?

Read on.

The Challenge

Einspahr Auto Plaza in Brookings, South Dakota is a family-owned, CDJR and Ford dealership that’s been a staple in the community for more than 50 years.

9 Clouds had been a marketing partner of Einspahr’s for several years, providing services in digital advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing.

With a strong digital presence underway, the next challenge at hand was to execute a lead-qualifying system that accomplished two things:

  1. Sent the appropriate message to the lead at the right time in their buying journey
  2. Further qualified engaged leads as “hot leads” and communicates this information to the sales team

The Solution

Enter lead scoring.

When the opportunity arose to prioritize qualified leads via lead scoring, the 9 Clouds team executed a system to assign leads a score based on known information and online activity.

Here’s how it works.

Within Einspahr’s email marketing software, we created a 100-point scoring system that assigns points to leads based on some of the following criteria, for example:

  • Have a known lead model
  • Have recently engaged with an email
  • Have visited vehicle description pages (VDPs) or other key website pages

Additionally, once a new purchase date is entered for a contact, their lead score resets to zero.

Okay, so each contact has a score. Now what?

This is where the personalized magic happens. Based on our criteria, we deemed a score of 25-99 as a “warm lead.” Warm leads receive an email prompting them to browse in-stock vehicles of their interested model, further nurturing them along their vehicle-shopping journey.

Automotive Email Marketing Examples

Contacts with a score of 100+ are considered “hot,” or ready to buy.

These folks receive an email encouraging them to just go ahead and schedule that test drive already!

Automotive Lead Scoring Examples


Not only do these emails provide personalization by showing the relevant vehicle model and being sent at the right time, but they also provide the recipient with clear next steps to take in their automotive journey.

The sales team is in on the action, too. Each time a contact meets the 100-point threshold, the Einspahr team receives an automated email encouraging them to check in with the lead — a perfect example of sales and marketing working together!

The Results

After six months of executing this lead scoring strategy, Einspahr’s email metrics became very impressive, far outperforming the 9 Clouds benchmarks for automotive email.

Let’s take a look.

The Warm Leads Workflow Email

First, the “warm leads” email — of all the contacts receiving this email, nearly half are opening it, and 14% of those are continuing to the website to browse vehicles.

Automotive email results

The Hot Leads Workflow Email

Here’s the data for the “hot leads” email. Nearly 64% of these highly-qualified leads open this email. That’s incredible, as the industry benchmark for email open rate is just 12.6%, and the 9 Clouds open rate benchmark was 17.38%, in 2021.

Furthermore, nearly half of the recipients who open the email click to the website to schedule their test drive.

Now that’s an intentional, high-quality click, well above the industry and 9 Clouds click-through rate benchmarks of 9.8% and 13.41%, respectively.

automotive email results with lead scoring

How’d This Translate to the Sales Floor?

That’s an important question, as a great marketer knows that success is defined by more than digital metrics.

Here’s what the Einspahr team has to say about the lead scoring process:

“When we receive these lead notifications from 9 Clouds, we then contact the customer. We like receiving them and have had success with this process.”

Ryan Ramstad, General Sales Manager, Einspahr Auto Plaza

Want to Better Engage Your Email Contacts?

Learn more about lead tracking with 9 Clouds today, or request a free proposal for digital services – including marketing email and email automation.

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