Drive More Sales at Your Dealership with Data-Driven Email Marketing

Drive More Sales at Your Dealership with Data-Driven Email Marketing


Personalized emails targeted to the right buyer and at the right time can drive traffic to your inventory page and prospects onto your lot. Email is a highly effective customer acquisition channel and for the last ten years in a row, email is the category generating the highest ROI for marketers (Campaign Monitor). Email marketing requires a much lower investment compared to other marketing channels and gives marketers the broadest reach of all the channels available to them.

How Auto Dealers Are Using Email

Benchmark Email conducted a survey analyzing the use and effectiveness of email marketing for dealerships.  According to the survey:

  • 57% of dealerships deploy email campaigns and newsletters on a monthly basis and 21% send out quarterly.
  • Email newsletters that combine both informational aspects and offers of discounts or sales was the most popular type of content to be included in dealerships’ campaigns (one-third).
  • Emails that included little to no informational content and instead focused on providing sales and discount information were responsible for 21% of all sends.
  • Purchased and supplied leads account for 36% of email leads, and current and past customers who have either purchased a vehicle through the dealership or have physically visited the location account for 29%.
  • Most dealerships (73%) reported not segmenting their lists in any way and send out the same content to all subscribers equally.

According to statistics gathered from automotive dealerships nationwide, those who use email marketing are seeing tangible results – increased ROI, sales and customer bases. According to the research, “Email campaigns have on average a 9%-to-12% open rate, and of those, as much as a 14% click through.”

Email marketing clearly works, but dealerships have been slow to implement the strategies necessary to sell cars in the digital age. And for those that are adopting digital approaches, PCG Research estimates that millions of dollars are spent by dealers each month on ineffective marketing investments that offer little value in helping move inventory off the lot.

Segment Your List and Personalize Each Communication

No one wants to receive every email offer you have on the table.  And if you don’t take the time to segment and personalize your lists, be prepared for your prospects to unsubscribe in droves.  Research by Silverpop reports that the over 50% of consumers unsubscribe from a list because the email is irrelevant, impersonal, or both.

Every email campaign should be segmented and personalized. Start with the basics – the 1st party data you have sitting in your CRM and prospect databases. Analyze data such as age, gender, purchase history, service department transactions, and other pieces of information that can be analyzed to give you a deeper understanding of your customer and prospect segments.

Add 3rd Party Data Enhancement

While an internal database is a great starting point, many dealerships will find that these records are missing valuable details.  Demographics such as income, occupation, lifestyle, marital status, families with children, and other consumer characteristics will add valuable insights into which offers will resonate best with various customer groups.


In addition to demographics, specialty auto VIN data sources should be incorporated into lead data in order create hyper targeted offers that will increase click through rates and conversions.  Add data selects to your database such as the current make, model, and year of the current vehicle being driven. Are they in positive equity? Are there other vehicles in the household?

When selecting a VIN data source, keep in mind that the way the data is sourced is crucial to stay compliant with marketing and industry regulations. If the data is sourced from vehicle registrations, there will be limitations to how it can be used for marketing, as well as limitations in what data is available due to privacy states.  Be sure to ask about the provider’s collection methods and how they conform to all state and federal regulations.

Design for Mobile

Nearly half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. According to Hubspot:

If you aren’t optimizing for mobile, you are losing out on significant opportunities.  Hubspot published a great article on how to optimize emails for mobile:

Analyze Performance

One of the most important stages of any email marketing campaign is taking the time to analyze it. What was the open and click-thru rate? Which emails are performing better? When are people opening and engaging with your emails? By tracking email performance, you can continuously make any tweaks and adjustments to ensure you are getting optimal results.

Email can be a powerful channel for your dealership when done correctly. Consider that 43% of the nation’s car shoppers say promotions and sales emails will motivate them to visit a dealership. There is a wealth of opportunity if you take the time to implement the strategies to reach these car shoppers with the a personalized and targeted message.

Download our Automotive and Dealership Marketing Success Kit for more tips and best practices on how to target and acquire new customers.

Dealership Marketing Tips

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