Email marketing is a vital part of any digital marketing strategy and yet it is often misunderstood, abused, or isolated from other marketing efforts. At the core of any email marketing strategy is data hygiene and customer models that are based on campaign responses over time. Most auto dealers do not have the tools or disciplines required to keep an email-marketing database clean nor model their customers.

Dealers should seek out a competent marketing partner who will clearly document their data hygiene processes. Your email marketing partner should assist you with centralizing your customer email communications.

An average car dealer can have isolated email campaigns being generated from:

  • CRM platforms
  • Internet Reputation Management (IRM) software (in the form of customer surveys.)
  • Equity Mining Software, which often separate from the CRM platform
  • Lead activation, lead generation and/or merchandising vendors (i.e. AVA, Hooklogic, etc.)
  • Newsletter campaigns for Sales and Service.

With too many cooks in the kitchen and no central management of personalized email communications, you can clearly see why so many email lists get burnt out so quickly.

Interviewing Your Next Email Marketing Provider

If you are not managing all your email campaigns centrally, you should get serious and start shopping for a competent partner.  PCG does not offer email management services, so this is not a pitch for our business.

Potential email marketing partners should be able to answer all of these questions in writing:

  1. How will you pull the initial email-marketing list from the dealership? What sources and data formats will you need?
  2. How will you process any previous requests from customers who asked to be excluded from email marketing from our CRM system and/or previous email marketing partner?
  3. How will you process future requests to be removed from email marketing campaigns that you send as well as those requests we get from our CRM/DMS and marketing partner emails?
  4. How often will you pull additional or changed records from the DMS and CRM platform to update the email-marketing list?  Will you update the DMS as well?
  5. How do you handle duplicate email addresses assigned to the same customer and/or same family address?
  6. How will you segment email-marketing lists? How often do you plan on sending emails to each segment?  Please explain your methodology.
  7. How will your company A/B test email campaigns and what type of customer engagement data do you collect?
  8. Are your email templates responsive (i.e. using HTML 5) so that they are optimized for desktops, tablets, and mobile phones?
  9. Are all email embedded links using proper campaign tagging parameters, recommended by Google, to appear in Google Analytics properly?
  10. Do you design landing pages for email links or is that the responsibility of the dealership?

An the last question (10.5) is in regards to compliance: “Will all your email campaigns be OEM compliant? How much insurance do you carry for errors and omissions?” You will need to be very clear on who will take responsibility for emails that are not compliance for OEM, State, and/or Federal guidelines.

Email Is Not Dead – Just Our Strategy Is

Email marketing is not dead but our current strategies in the dealership are DOA.  Our industry has to get serious about an email communication plan that meets the needs of all business units.  Today, an average dealer has four to six different platforms sending emails to customer and there are no central records being kept.

Do you see the need to get your email marketing in order?  I hope that this post will create some immediate actions within the dealer community.

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About the Author

Brian Pasch is the founder of PCG companies. PCG provides customized marketing and training solutions for businesses that are committed to dominate their local market.