At the end of 2016, Automotive News notesthe average age of light vehicles on the road at 11.6 years, up from 11.5 the previous year. Why aren’t people buying cars? The technology is making them so exciting why would car owners want to keep their clunker from the middle of 2005? If you're in charge of your dealership’s marketing efforts, these questions might seem familiar. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Car sales were up for the 7th year in a row, and consumer preferences are changing due to rapid technological advancements. The modern car buying process is shaping how dealers market to their audience, and your dealership’s email marketing strategy is what nurtures them back into your showroom.
An Industry Snapshot
Even though the average age of vehicles is increasing, reports show total the number of vehicles sold for 2016 set a record high for the 7th year in a row, coming in at 11.6 million (includes new and used light vehicle sales). While this might seem contradictory at first, when we take a look at how the automotive industry got to this point, the confusion starts to dissipate.
The reason why average vehicle age continues to rise is because the industry has maintained a product-centric market for the last couple decades. Automotive marketing efforts focused on aspects such as safety features, entertainment packages, and number of cup-holders. While this close-minded approach paid off in the sense that we have safe, comfortable, and tech-infused cars, dealerships often came up short on delivering the best possible customer experience before, during, and after a sale.
Inbound Email Marketing for Car Dealerships
When we look at how the modern car buyer shops, it’s obvious a lot of things have changed. Car shoppers are taking their time to make sure they get the best possible price for the car that will best fit their needs. During this research process, it’s imperative your website organically collects their email address and basic information so you can walk them through the marketing funnel to the best car you can give them.
Instead of using a purchased email list, inbound email marketing focuses on meeting prospective customers where they are in their decision process, and providing valuable information to help them make the best decision in your favor.
While inbound marketing works best using an integrated, multi-channel approach, email marketing consistently has the largest average return on investment of 3800%, making it an obvious choice to cut back on your un-trackable traditional efforts.
Your emails are only as good as your contacts
This holds true across all industries, not just automotive. If you have a contact database of people from a purchased list, you have no idea what they’re vehicles tastes are. You don’t even know if they’re in the market for a car. When you’re building your contact list, make sure your contacts are opting in to your messages. Not only does this abide by CAN SPAM regulations, but it will increase your overall email performance as well.
Maintaining an organized CRM with contact and customer information is the best way to send relevant and timely emails with the content they’re looking for. In order to understand what you should send, you need to understand where the recipient is in the funnel. Once you know this, you can use contextual marketing and send them a highly-targeted message that is likely to perform better than a batch-and-blast email.
Focus Post-Purchase Value
Maintaining a solid customer contact database will allow you to extend your value past the point of purchase. A timely service reminder or maintenance check is a great way to stand apart as a great dealership and delight your customers. The more information you have stored in your database, the more relevant you can make the email.
Include their make and model in the subject line. If you’re pushing accessories use a captivating image with “what they could be driving”. Anything that sparks a personal connection will do wonders for your dealership email marketing campaigns.
As the age of vehicles continues to increase, so will these emails. These emails will not only keep your customers happy, but it will keep a consistent stream of revenue coming through your service department, thus increasing the lifetime value of your customer.
It’s all about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
As an email marketing agency, one challenge we see dealerships come across is trying to sell more cars to generation Y. When you’re marketing to millennials, traditional tactics just won’t cut it. They’ve grown up ignoring the irrelevant car commercials on TV, and they’re reshaping how dealerships approach marketing.
Millennials have enormous buying power as a generation, but individuals have a lower annual income than prior generations. This means bigger purchase decisions, such as buying a car or a house, are being pushed back a few years. Leasing has become a popular option for younger car buyers, as it doesn’t require a large up-front cost. It’s also more of a short-term responsibility, rather than a long-term investment.
In your email campaigns, you can send people who have interacted with leasing pages on your website relevant information about specials instead of trying to get them to buy your newest, most expensive sports car. While these emails won’t sign the lease papers, they’ll drive traffic to your site where nurtured leads can discover the value of your offer themselves.
Contact an Email Marketing Agency
As software updates and technology advancements continue, the digital marketing environment isn’t too easy to keep up with. You specialize in selling cars, and if you’re having trouble with your email marketing, you’re not selling as many cars are you could be. An email marketing agency typically comes in at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone in-house, and they have industry expertise about best practices, trends, and driving business results.
Inbound email marketing for car dealerships is a great way to bring visitors back to your site so they can find the right car. While the modern car buyer doesn’t like to be bothered by salespeople, as marketers it’s our job to facilitate their decision. As the market changes, we must adapt to the demands of consumers. Providing them with a stream of contextual marketing information to their inbox will nurture them through the funnel, into your showroom, and continually coming back for regular maintenance.