7 Helpful Email Marketing Tricks for Car Dealers

Car dealerships send and receive emails all day long. Between communicating with prospective leads and keeping in touch with current clients, email is a vital part of any automotive operation.

An estimated 4.3 billion people will use email by 2022. Can you guess how many of those users are in the market for a new or used car?

A successful email marketing plan can be the difference between a one-time purchase and a lifelong customer. Additionally, email marketing works to inform current customers about other offerings at your dealership, such as automotive maintenance or accessories.

However, without a proper email marketing plan in place, your efforts can easily blur the line between helpful content and spammy sales tactics.

To ensure your car dealership uses email marketing properly and to its fullest potential, keep our seven tricks and tips in mind.

1. Find the Right Email Marketing Platform for Your Dealership

According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing boasts an extraordinary ROI of 3800%. As a result, there are hundreds of email marketing tools, software, and platforms on the market.

With so many features, pricing tiers, and integrations to choose from, it’s in your best interest to take your time to decide which email marketing platform works best for your business.

When comparing email marketing tools, consider the following:


First and foremost, will your car dealership be able to justify the cost of an email marketing platform? Do you have enough funds to cover the monthly or annual cost of this tool? If the tool is wildly out of budget, you’ll need to find an alternative or find other funds to allocate towards the cost.

Fortunately, there are free email marketing tools available. However, these tools often come with functional limitations or are only free for a trial period.


Email marketing platforms offer features ranging from customizable template designs to sophisticated drip campaign tools.

Other standard email marketing features include:

  • Auto-responders
  • Drip campaign planning & execution
  • Personalization capabilities
  • Spam management
  • In-depth analytics
  • CRM integration
  • Lead scoring
  • List management

Before purchasing a specific platform, make a list of the features your prospective email marketing tool must-have. This will ensure you review each platform thoroughly before spending your marketing budget.

Platform Versatility

A few of the most popular platforms and tools include:

Your email marketing platform of choice must be able to integrate with other areas of your sales and marketing efforts seamlessly. From exporting key customer data from your CRM to signing up new subscribers via a blog post, make sure your email marketing platform works with and benefits your existing sales and marketing strategies.

Reviewing each platform’s features, pricing, and integration capabilities before signing up for a subscription ensures you choose the best option for your car dealership.

2. Have an Email Marketing Strategy

After your car dealership has selected an email marketing platform, it’s all too tempting to begin playing around with the tool immediately.

Before you begin designing and sending out email marketing messages, you should create a campaign strategy. Each campaign you create must have a purpose, a goal, and a call-to-action (CTA.)

For instance, customers walking into car dealerships or searching online already have a good idea of the vehicle they want to purchase. In combination with VIN Specific Advertising, you can develop an email marketing campaign which sends the interested customer info about that particular car.

Or, if the customer has all the info they need and still hasn’t made the purchase, develop a relationship through email marketing. Send emails related to your business practices, professional staff, and the wealth of maintenance/service offerings you provide, to educate the customer further and drive additional sales.

Without an email marketing plan in place, you’ll waste time and marketing dollars on emails with little to no results.

3. Focus on the Subject Line

Have you ever received an email, only to send it to the trash solely based on the subject line? You’re not alone! We’ve found that 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line

Your email’s subject line can make or break an entire campaign. No pressure, right?

To remedy this, spend time brainstorming different subject lines for each email. And, if your prospective email marketing platform allows for it, test out different subject lines to determine which copy generates the best results.

When working on your email subject lines, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

Personalize It

If you would see your name in the subject line, you’d be at least a little curious about what’s inside, right? Campaign Monitor reported that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than general subject lines.

But don’t worry — you don’t have to write out each person’s subject line one-by-one. Email marketing platforms have personalization features which allow you to import a list of recipients, and place their name or other details into an email and subject line using conditional content.

Consider Using Emojis

Although once touted as taboo, brands are using emojis in email subject lines to drive higher open rates and engagement. The use of emojis in email marketing messages increased by 775% from 2015 to 2016, according to MediaPost.

Use emojis that resonate with your audience and align with the purpose of your email. Try using emojis in your subject lines to see if they improve your email marketing results.

Don’t Ramble

When it comes to email subject lines, short and sweet does the trick. We’ve discovered (in testing millions of emails each year) that 3-word subject lines received the highest open rate (23.6%), while 7-word subject lines (the most common) only garnered a 14.2% open rate.

Keep your email subject lines concise and to the point. Describe what’s in the email without the fluff or hard sell, and you’ll see the results roll in.

4. Use Actionable Language

The automotive industry is all about actionable language. With promotions using words and phrases like “Buy Now!”, “0% APR Today!”, and “Drive Away in a New Car!”, customers are used to the speedy nature of car dealership marketing.

However, when it comes to using actionable language in your email marketing efforts, you don’t need to be as forceful. Many of your email recipients will be existing customers with whom you have already built a relationship. You don’t need to hard-sell these individuals

Instead, use phrases that drive users to take a specific action with respect to that particular email. For example, let’s imagine you’re sending out an email for 50% off an oil change for all existing customers. Your email can include copy such as:

  • Schedule your appointment now
  • Call us to schedule your appointment
  • Reserve your spot today
  • Limited spots available, schedule your oil change now!
  • Offer valid for a limited time only

Using passive language won’t lead to the marketing results your car dealership desires. Urge your customers to act accordingly and take advantage of the deal you’re offering.

5. Provide Educational Content

Many car dealerships make the mistake of only sending promotional emails. After a while, customers tune these emails out and send them straight to the spam folder.

Instead, improve your customer relationships, email marketing results, and overall ROI by sending educational content to your audience. Create and share valuable content regarding the automotive industry, such as:

  • Blog posts explaining regular maintenance topics such as oil changes, tire rotations, air filter replacements, etc.
  • Videos answering commonly asked questions about specific cars, mileage, service, warranties, etc.
  • Infographics with step-by-step instructions for at-home DIY maintenance.

Taking this avenue does more than educate your customers; it also improves your brand awareness. Email subscribers are three times more likely to share your content via social media than visitors from other sources.

6. Don’t Spam Customers

Many brands in the automotive industry send far too many emails to current and potential customers, resulting in reduced open rates and failed client relationships.

Instead, leave ample space between emails in your campaigns. If you’re running a campaign designed to remind customers about your oil change promotion, your email marketing schedule could work as follows:

  • Email 1: Introduce promotion
  • Email 2 (Sent three days later): Educational content related to oil changes
  • Email 3 (Sent four days later): Promotion reminder

Providing space between your emails gives customers time to think about your offer or content and decide if they should make a purchase. Sending too many emails becomes intrusive and bothersome and positions your company negatively in the mind of consumers.

7. Analyze Everything

Since your chosen email marketing platform should provide analytics capabilities, you’ll have the ability to track your progress, failures, and successes. The only way to improve your email marketing and drive better results is to analyze your previous campaigns and messages.

Go ahead and analyze everything about your email marketing efforts, including:

  • Subject line language
  • The time and day of the week in which you sent the emails
  • Email template design
  • Email content and language
  • Email functionality
  • The email address used to send messages
  • Click-through rates
  • Email open rates
  • Email marketing video analytics

Since there’s so much to analyze with regards to email marketing, do yourself a favor and first select a few KPIs that indicate success in your car dealership. Common KPIs include click-through rates, open rates, and CTAs (i.e., a maintenance service scheduled) related to the success of your business.

Keep a detailed log of your email marketing reports and analytics so you can track your progress over time. You’ll be able to go back and see the strides your dealership has made once you implement these email marketing tricks!

Put Our Email Marketing Tricks to Use

Email marketing is a necessity for car dealerships. From sending educational content and increasing the lifetime value of a customer, to converting those on the fence about a purchase, email marketing is a valuable asset and tool. When you’re ready to take the next step with your car dealership’s email marketing efforts, the team at J&L Marketing is here to help

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