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Maximizing Email Marketing for Car Dealerships with an AI-Powered Customer Data Platform

  • June 5, 2023
12 min read
Maximizing Email Marketing for Car Dealerships with an AI-Powered Customer Data Platform

Table of Contents

    Ro Oranim

    Ro Oranim

    Table of Contents

      Let’s talk about your email inbox. 

      Statistics show that, as a typical email user in 2023, you are likely receiving between 100-120 emails *per day*. Between work, personal, and marketing emails, that’s quite the pile of content to sort through on a daily basis. 

      While the sheer quantity of emails you receive may have you second guessing using email marketing at your dealership, the reality is that email marketing is one of the most effective and cost-efficient marketing tools out there for retailers in general, and car dealers in particular. 

      Why should car dealerships utilize email marketing, you may ask? 

      Because email marketing presents a unique opportunity for direct continued contact with your customers. It is an easy way to create an extended relationship with your customers and ensure your dealership remains top of mind. 

      In truth, email marketing should be an obvious step for your dealership. With the latest AI technologies on the market like automotive-centric Customer Data Platforms (CDP), email marketing is a no brainer. CDPs help dealerships create highly personalized and optimized email marketing campaigns – from effective subject lines to persuasive calls to action (CTA) to personalized offerings and more – so you can build valuable, long lasting relationships with your customers. 

      The sad reality is that the typical dealer will only engage about 15% of their existing leads. That is a lot of missed opportunities that a dealership email marketing strategy can solve. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the importance of email marketing for dealerships and the different methods you can implement at your dealership to drive success. 

      Understanding the Power of Email Marketing for Car Dealerships

      Email marketing has proven to be a highly impactful channel for automotive dealerships. At Fullpath, we have found that clients using our AI-powered email marketing solution for dealerships will, on average, see a 35% open rate. The average expected open rate for email marketing campaigns is typically 14-20%, proving that following best practices and creating hyper-relevant content is all you need in order to succeed in creating effective marketing campaigns.  

      The impact on email open rates when using a CDP for a dealership email marketing strategy

      While it may seem like a complicated channel to dive into, there are many clear benefits to developing a proper email marketing strategy for your dealership: 

      • Direct communication – The true beauty of email marketing is that it provides you with a direct line of communication with your customers,  allowing you to actively reach each and every customer individually. 
      • Cost effective – Classic marketing methods can come with high printing and mailing costs or advertising costs. Email marketing allows for you to reach a higher volume of customers at a fraction of the cost.
      • Targeted campaigns – Email marketing allows for you to create targeted email campaigns for specific audiences. By segmenting your customers based on specific criteria like purchase history, vehicle preferences, or demographics you can send content that is relevant to your customers, increasing the chances of engagement.
      • Maintain brand awareness – Consistent email campaigns can help you build and maintain your dealership’s brand identity.  Creating valuable, relevant, insightful content for your customers can help position your dealership as an industry leader which can drive customer loyalty. 
      • Extend shopper journeys – Effective, relevant, and timely email marketing campaigns can lead to increased sales and customer retention. Providing valuable information about special offers, refinancing options, or service reminders, will help you nurture your customer relationships and keep your dealership top of mind, encouraging repeat business.

      By following best practices when it comes to email marketing, your dealership can actively engage with customers and shoppers directly to build long-term connections and ensure your dealership is the first place they turn to when looking to make their next automotive purchase. 

      Crafting Attention-Grabbing Email Templates for Car Dealerships 

      Crafting email templates for your dealership is an artform – you want to ensure the email will capture the attention of your customer and provide value based on your dealership offerings. Here are some things to consider:  

      Subject Lines

      Your subject line is your first impression. It is the first thing the shopper will see when your email lands in their inbox, which means that it better be attention-grabbing and convincing enough that they will take the time to read it. 

      There are several methods you can use in order to craft successful, engaging subject lines for your dealership email campaigns: 

      • Personalization – This is where your dealership data can come in handy. Using the customer’s data – including their name or vehicle information in the subject line – can help grab their attention. When a customer sees their name or specific details that relate to their vehicle, they are more likely to view the email as important or relevant to them.

        • <Name>, your lease is about to end – get an upgrade.
        • We look forward to servicing your <Vehicle Make and Model>!
      Example for how to use personalize headlines in a dealership's email marketing strategy
      • Specificity – Tailoring the content of your email subject line to their specific interests or past interactions with your dealership helps the customer feel that your content will speak to their needs.

        • Specific offers on vehicles they have shown interest in: <Name>, Check out this personalized upgrade offer on <Vehicle of Interest>!
        • Personalized opportunity to trade-in their vehicle: <Name>, Your <Vehicle Purchased> may be worth more than you think!
      Example for how to use personalize headlines in a dealership's email marketing strategy
      • Urgency – Creating a sense of urgency in the subject line can motivate your customers to take immediate action. Using specific language to promote time-sensitive or exclusive deals can give your emails an edge. 

        • <Name>, Don’t miss out! Your personalized update from <Dealership Name>.
        • <Name>, accelerate your experience! Check out these exclusive deals just for you. 
        • <Name>, check out this personalized upgrade offer available now for a limited time.
      • Call to action – Prompting customers to take action based on the content in your email increases the likelihood of engagement, especially if the email is timely and based on a specific need.

        • It’s time to service your !
        • Hi , it’s time to schedule your next service appointment.
      Example for how to use personalize headlines in a dealership's email marketing strategy
      • Curiosity – Using a question in your headline can spark the curiosity of your customers and encourage them to learn more by reading your email.

        • <Name>, have you heard about the new <Vehicle Make and Model>?
        • Did you know we offer <Service Options>?

      These tactics can help improve your dealership email marketing strategy and improve your results. Best practice suggests testing a variety of subject lines using different methods over time and analyzing the specific results – like, which emails had the best open and click rates to determine which strategies resonate with your customers. 

      Email Content 

      There are a couple of important things to consider when crafting the content of your emails:

      Continuity of Messaging:

      To ensure your emails are building relationships and loyalty with your customers, it is critical that the content inside aligns with the subject line. 

      Trust is hard to build and easy to lose. Using misleading or false subject lines in order to hook your customers or to increase your email open rate will certainly cause more harm than good. If your email subject line is encouraging the customer to book a service appointment, the email itself should include information like how and when to book the appointment and not, say, an offer for a new vehicle. If the subject line includes the suggestion of a specific offer, the email content must include that offer. 

      Sample of an email for a dealership email marketing strategy formatted for desktop viewing

      Mobile Friendly Design:

      Studies show that as of 2018, 43% of emails are read on mobile devices. There is little to no doubt that number has increased in recent years along with the increased popularity in mobile devices and technologies. 

      By implementing mobile-friendly practices, you can ensure that your dealership’s email campaigns provide a seamless and engaging experience for mobile users. You should consider the following best practices: 

      1. Use responsive design – use a design that automatically adjusts the layout and formatting of your email to the screen size of the reader’s device. This will ensure your email can be easily read on desktop, laptop and mobile sized screens.
      2. Make it skimmable – make sure your emails are clear and concise. Break up larger text blocks with paragraph breaks, bullets and headings to make your emails more readable. Ensure your font size is large enough to be legible, even on smaller screens.
      3. Avoid clutter – don’t use too many loud or invasive graphic elements. Keep your email simple and clean so readers can navigate your content on a small device.
      4. Optimize graphics –  ensure your images are for mobile devices to avoid long loading times. Use alt-text for images to provide context in case the image fails to load.
      5. Touch friendly buttons – you want to make sure your customers can take action based on your emails. That requires making sure your buttons and links are large enough and clear enough to be clickable without zooming in and well spaced enough to be tapped with a finger. 
      Sample of an email for a dealership email marketing strategy formatted for mobile viewing

      Calls to Action:

      If you are creating an email campaign, it is likely because you want your customer to take action based on that email. Using a clear directive – or call to action – is the best way to tell your customer what to do next. 

      There are two central ways to include a call to action in your emails:

      1. Hyperlinks – link a specific section of text or a graphic to a page on your website with a clear directive to click the link. 
      2. Buttons – use specific language on a button to encourage your customer to click the button which will then lead them to a specific web page that relates to the email content. 

      Calls to action include clear, specific, directive language like:

      • Click Here 
      • Learn More
      • Claim Offer 
      • Book an Appointment 
      • Explore Out Inventory 
      • Schedule a Call 
      • Request a Quote 

      Be sure to select your call to action based on the content of the email so the benefit of clicking the link or button will be clear to the reader.  

      Enhancing Email Marketing for Dealerships with an AI-powered Customer Data Platform

      In recent years, automotive centric Customer Data Platforms have been on the rise. These AI-powered platforms are designed to help dealers make the most out of their first-party data in improving dealership marketing and operations.  CDPs work to eliminate dealership data silos by gathering all their data pulled from various sources into a single platform. From there,  the dealership’s data can be cleaned, sorted and maintained while it is put to good use. 

      CDPs are the ultimate tool when it comes to creating an effective dealership email marketing strategy. Because CDPs are AI-based platforms, they can gain deep insights into your customers allowing you to: 

      • Improve your targeting and segmentation – CDPs use AI to hyper-segment your audiences based on specific criteria including demographics, vehicles of interest, and previous engagements with your dealership. 
      • Create content at scale – Sending out targeted email blasts is much easier and more cost effective when a CDP is using AI to automatically generate campaigns and visuals. Using a CDP will allow you to reach your entire audience at scale. 
      • Personalize every email –  The CDP pulls from your first-party data which allows it to personalize your emails based on customer data, increasing engagement and driving sales. 
      • Get better insights into your campaign performance – Not only can the CDP help you scale your dealership email marketing strategy, it can help you optimize your emails over time based on your customer response – saving you time and money.  

      To give you an idea of how impactful an CDP driven email marketing strategy can be for your dealership, this dealership used Fullpath to scale their email marketing strategy and successfully sent out more than 340,000 personalized emails in just 6 months. They credit the CDP with the dramatic 23% increase in sales they experienced as well. 

      Multiple email campaigns created by a CDP for a dealership email marketing strategy

      Conclusion – The benefits of email marketing for dealerships

      The benefits of email marketing for dealerships are many. Emails present a unique opportunity for you to reach your customers in a direct, personalized manner that can help drive sales and improve your dealership’s bottom line – all you need is the right strategy.

      CDPs enable dealers to create an optimized email marketing strategy easily by providing all of the necessary tools needed and by using AI to create effective email templates, optimize your audiences, and hyper-personalize your campaigns by leveraging your dealership’s first-party data. 

      Fullpath works to make email marketing for car dealerships easy and effective. Fullpath works to consolidate your dealership’s data and leverage it to create hyper-specific audiences for your targeted email marketing campaigns. By pulling data directly from your dealership’s CRM, you can reawaken your cold leads and engage 100% of your audience with personalized, timely messaging designed to increase sales and drive new revenues.

      If you are interested in learning more about Fullpath’s email marketing solution for dealerships, click here or get in touch with our team at

      • CDXP
      • Audience Activation

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