Category Archives: Emails and Direct Marketing

You’ve Got Phone Skills…What About E-mail Skills?

If any of you out there have weak stomachs, you may want to skip this article. We’ll be talking about the importance of writing professional, convincing e-mails that direct your buyers rather than react to them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you find out your sales staff have been sending out gems like this:


Mmm, sounds great. Where do I sign?

Good e-mail work is just as vital as good phone work in today’s dealerships; it’s a severe mistake to let your staff run their mouths across a documented medium that represents your dealership. Is it harder to control a customer over e-mail than over the phone? Oh, you bet. It is infinitely more difficult to utilize word tracks and overcome objections when the prospect has time to actually consider your statements and cross-reference information. And as stated before, the frightening thing about e-mail communication is that the prospect has your entire exchange documented verbatim, and there’s no getting around that.

However, there is certainly a methodology behind writing convincing e-mails, and because the information is documented and delivered in a manner the consumer is comfortable with (news flash, they’re not comfortable talking to a salesperson on the phone), a good conversation over e-mail can be just as valuable, if not more so, than the usual phone shtick. As a bonus, your less-experienced employees should take to e-mail skills training faster than phone training, because the written medium allows them to prepare the right answer beforehand, and gather proper information rather than stumbling on the phone about what’s on the lot and what the best price is.

For beginners, you have to master the basics that have been discussed time and time again:

[list:1c2n3id7]• Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

• Know your spam rules (our buddy Steve at the top has obviously never been taught that all caps and abusive dollar signs will get thrown into spam folders all day long).

• Get the information right! Spell the prospect’s name correctly, and don’t rely on auto fill fields for the vehicle data.

The next step is to get your e-mail noticed, and that’s all about putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes:

• Your subject line has to be killer. Your store’s name should be there so the prospect can separate you from the pack, and the few words you say should be incentive for the prospect to read further. Everyone knows you have “great deals”… forget about that. You want to thrill someone with half a dozen dealer e-mails staring them in the face? Get creative.

• Many dealers share the same auto response schedule: one minute, three-day, five-day, ten-day, and so forth. If a third-party lead gets delivered to an average of two and a half dealers at the same exact time, why would you want your e-mails to show up in the prospect’s inbox on the same day/time as your competitors? Mix the schedule up to get noticed.

• We’re back on the spam rules again… mystery shop yourself with Yahoo, MSN and AOL accounts. Do the research to keep yourself out of the spam folder; that’s job number one.[/list:u:1c2n3id7]
Get all of this right, and your e-mail will get to a set of eyeballs. Now you just have to worry about what to say:

[list:1c2n3id7]• Never stop pushing your dealership’s value. It distinguishes you from the competition, and helps hold gross. If your staff can’t reel off five exclusive value points to your store, sit down and brainstorm with them until they become your biggest promoters.

• If your prospect came off a third-party lead, supplement your pricing and statements with third-party web site information. A lead from your own dealership site might be someone who lives local and hasn’t scoured the net for data, but a third-party lead is coming from someone who knows all about Edmunds, KBB, and the rest of the juggernauts. You know they trust third parties because that’s how they found you in the first place.

• You don’t need to answer the prospects’ questions in the manner they’d like them answered, but you do need to address the issues presented in a way that alleviates their concerns. If customers need to ask a question twice to get it answered, you’re already in the hole.[/list:u:1c2n3id7]
There’s plenty more where that came from, but the key to it all is envisioning the consumer’s situation. You have to understand how the process looks on their end first, and that will put you in a position to find loopholes, stand out from the other stores, and establish trust.

Mitch Turck is an Internet marketing consultant on behalf of WebNet Services, Inc.

You’ve Got Sale

Responding to emails: 10 best practices that make the sale.

Your email chimes, but you let it go because you’re way too busy. It’s time to get out on the floor and close some sales. You’ll get to that email later — or maybe tomorrow.

Guess what: You just lost a sale. This lead could be as hot as the up in your showroom. How you respond makes all the difference.

10 best practices that turn emails into sales.

When it comes to email, new rules of competition and customer engagement apply. If you don’t jump on that lead, another dealer certainly will. But how quickly should you respond? What should you say? And when is it okay to use an auto responder?

Here are some proven practices that provide answers and deliver sales:

1. Respond to every single lead.
You would never ignore a customer who just walked into your dealership. So don’t pass up the customer in your inbox. Customers who reach out to the dealership via phone or by email are close to purchase and take action quickly. According to Experian, 61% of shoppers who contact a dealership via phone or email buy a vehicle. And 41% buy within 30 days.*

2. Get back to the customer within minutes.
People shopping online are used to instant access to information. The longer you wait to respond to their initial inquiry, the greater the chance that they will get the information from someone else. So it pays to respond to customers with an actual, personalized email within 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Truly answer their email inquiries.
Was the vehicle owned by nonsmokers? Do you have service records for the vehicle? Car shoppers wouldn’t email you unless they wanted to know something specific. So take the time to read their email carefully, and then respond with clear details. This will prove you’re interested in their inquiry and their business.

4. When you’re at your desk, turn off your auto responder.
Remember, an auto response is not a response. So whenever you are at your computer, turn off the auto responder. That will help ensure you make the all-important one-to-one connection by writing the prospect back.

5. When you’re on the floor, manage your auto responder.
When you have to be away from your desk, set up your auto responder with a brief message that lets the customer know you will reply as soon as possible. For example: “Thank you for your interest. I am currently away from my desk assisting a customer. Your inquiry is very important to us, and I will get back to you shortly.”

6. When it’s after hours, make that clear in auto responder.
When the dealership is closed, email is not. Set up your auto response to clearly state your business hours. Most importantly — tell customers that you will get back to them the next business day.

7. If you don’t hear back, make a service call.
You’ve responded fast with a personal email, but you’re still not hearing back from a shopper. It’s time for a service call. Simply look up the shopper’s phone number and follow up to make sure a spam filter didn’t block your response. Note: Be sure to let the customer know that you are making a service call, not a sales call. You should simply state that you are concerned that he or she did not get your response, and wouldn’t want him or her to think you ignored the inquiry.

Here are some websites that allow you to look up phone numbers:


8. If you still don’t hear back, email again.
You’ve emailed and called, but you still have no response. Don’t let the lead cool. If you don’t hear back via email or telephone within 1 hour, send one more email.

9. Don’t give up. Follow up.
Keep following up on a weekly basis for the first 30 days. After 30 days the prospect should be added to your database for regular follow up communications. Remember a lead isn’t dead until he or she purchases a car from your dealership, indicates they’ve purchased from another dealership or aren’t in the market for another reason. (For additional examples on lead follow up click here to read an article from our March edition of dealerAdvantage. It contains useful examples of follow up offers and scripts.)

10. Treat all email leads equally.Email is the great equalizer because it may not be entirely clear who the customer is on the other end, so treat all car shoppers respectfully and make no assumptions about the individual contacting you. For example, the chart below shows women influence 83% of new vehicle purchase decisions. You cannot afford to unintentionally alienate any potential car buyers.

Remember, when you hear your email chime, there may be a customer on the line. So always make timely, personal and informative responses, and watch your emails transform into sales.

*Experian Automotive, Auto Leads Analysis, September 2004 – August 2005

Written by Ralph Ebersole @

The Phone vs. Email Debate

The No. 1 reason people use the internet is to send and receive email. The No. 2 reason is to conduct research. The most important and often overlooked aspect to internet success, is the power of email. Email is truly one of the most powerful applications, and for a good reason. When used properly, it can communicate one-on-one with prospects with speed and reliability.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet
Electronic communication, because of its speed and broadcasting ability; is fundamentally different from paper-based communication. Because the turn around time can be so fast, email is more conversational than traditional “snail mail” (mail that requires a stamp). With email documents, the shopper can ask questions and receive a response immediately. Email, like conversational speech, can be much sloppier and more ambiguous. You will find that very few people, when sending email are sticklers for proper grammar. It becomes imperative that the internet salesperson not only has a grasp of the English language, but can write in a way that communicates the salesperson’s sentiments professionally, effectively, and efficiently.

Phone or E-mail?
The debate continues regarding how the internet salesperson communicates product specifications and pricing when receiving an email inquiry. One side believes that if the customer inquires by email, the salesperson should respond by email. The other side (which would be my side) believes that if the customer provides a telephone number within their email inquiry, the first response should be a telephone call.

Here are some basic reasons why:

Profit is Not a Dirty Word
Some people believe that if you sell vehicles on or from the internet, you won’t make any money. This is absolutely not true, if you do it the right way. If you’re immediate response is to send pricing by email, you’ll seldom, if ever, send them a high price, which means your gross profits will decrease. By making your first response a phone call, you can gather all the information you need to make a good decision on what your next steps should be. By calling first, your prime motivation is to set up an appointment for them to come in. Once they come into your dealership, you can work with them just as if they were a showroom customer, and your gross profits will increase.

Combining the Two
Are you disrespecting the customer by not responding by email? Absolutely not! Some people who research on the internet and inquire by email are only looking for the lowest price, but again, this is not always true. Savvy shoppers want a speedy response, accurate information, and are looking for a salesperson who can provide them with the type of outstanding customer service they’ve expect.

On the other hand, if you rely solely on phone calls and very little on email, you will find that many prospects do not respond. Remember, an email response will get there quickly. The person receiving your email then chooses whether or not to respond. Using only the phones greatly limits your follow-up because there is no guarantee that the prospect will be around when you try to contact him/her. More importantly it works both ways. A prospect trying to reach you, or your dealership, is not limited to your hours and can contact you at their convenience.

Get Ready to Sell
If a customer emails you about a vehicle they saw online, be prepared to do business. If they need more info, give it to them. Don’t waste their time with a sales pitch unless you have answered their questions first. Shoppers that have already looked at your vehicles online, are ready to buy when they contact you. If you handle them properly, and bring them into your dealership, you will probably sell a vehicle that day.

Track your traffic

Make ’em an offer they can’t refuse

Looking for a way to identify Internet shoppers as soon as they walk into your store? Make ’em an offer they can’t refuse.

As we discuss in this month’s article on media measurement, dealerships need to know the most effective place to advertise so they can best allocate their budget dollars. To determine how well your online ads drive walk-in traffic, include an incentive in the listing notes that requires shoppers to print the ad and present it to the Internet sales department.

Typical incentives include:

An Internet price
In states where special Internet pricing is permitted, dealers frequently use an Internet price to identify Internet shoppers. The price posted in your online listings doesn’t have to be significantly less than the lot price, but it should end in a nonstandard number. In other words, if your lot prices typically end in a "9" or a "5," then make your Internet price end in an "8" or a "3." When a walk-in wants to see your 1997 Buick Riviera advertised for $7,993 � not $7,999 � for example, you’ll know you have an Internet shopper.

Alternatively, many dealers offer a coupon good for $250 off the best negotiated price. Dealers tell us that this amount is the sweet spot for attracting buyers. They say $150 is too low to stir interest while $500 isn’t believed.

Fuel card
Even with the cost of fuel dropping in recent weeks, car buyers are certain to appreciate free fill-ups. Let your budget be your guide, but an incentive of a fuel card valued at $50 or more with a purchase will ensure buyers bring their business to the Internet department vs. a salesperson working the floor that they meet on their way in the door.

Dinner for two
Who said there was no such thing as a free meal? A gift certificate to a quality, popular restaurant in your town may be just the thing to seal the deal.

Internet parking
Let your Internet customers know that you’ve set aside for them a special parking place near the front of the store. You’ll be able to see them as they enter the door, and, while they shop, a member of your service department can wash their vehicle.

Regardless of the offer you choose, these incentives create a win-win scenario for you and the customer. Not only will you be able to track the reach of your Internet advertising, but you’ll have a better feel for where customers are in the shopping process. Chances are good that they have more than a passing interest in a car after they’ve spent time researching it online and made the effort to visit your store, with your special offer in hand.

Written by

Using E-mail Newsletters to Drive Additional Sales

It’s no secret that e-mail marketing has it’s advantages, not the least of which is the low cost of e-mail messages when compared to other marketing media.

But along with its advantages, e-mail marketing presents a unique challenge: your recipients’ inboxes are likely flooded with messages from other marketers, making it difficult for your messages to stand out in the crowd and be received as intended.

So how can you grab the attention of your e-mail audience and deliver your pitch?

The answer is the e-mail newsletter. Newsletters are used by businesses of virtually every type to maintain contact with prospective customers, keep current customers in the fold, and deliver relevant marketing to each.

Your dealership can also get in on this act, and we’ve put together some useful guidelines you can follow for the effective design and delivery of your dealership newsletters.

The trick to effective newsletter marketing lies in the deliverability and content of your messages. You will realize your best results when you can reach out to the largest audience of prospects and customers with content that they find appealing. In order to accomplish this and harvest the most sales opportunities from your newsletter campaigns, we suggest following these well-established guidelines for effective e-mail marketing:

Collect newsletter opt-ins at every opportunity

The most important element of any marketing effort is the audience it addresses. Obviously, your base of prospects and current customers will be much more receptive to your message than random recipients, and the more of this “familiar” audience that receives your newsletter, the more effective it will be at drawing new and repeat business. Another key contributor to your newsletter success is the permission of your recipients—your newsletters and the marketing messages they contain will be received most favorably by those who have opted-in as subscribers.

In order to build a sizable list of newsletter subscribers, you should implement policies and processes to capture opt-ins at every opportunity. In addition to displaying an opt-in form to visitors of your dealership Web site, you should train your sales and service department staff to pitch the merits of your newsletter to your prospects and customers and actively opt them in. You can also build your list electronically—some technology vendors offer the ability to comb your DMS for customer names, match them to e-mail addresses from national databases, and request permission on your behalf to send e-mail correspondence.

Include content that your audience will look forward to reading

Again, your newsletters will not be alone in the inboxes of your intended recipients. If you want your newsletters to be read, and not simply deleted (or worse, sent to “junk” e-mail folders), you must include content that interests your subscribers. In fact, the most effective newsletters contain content which subscribers actually look forward to receiving.

Ultimately, you will use your newsletters as marketing tools, but it’s a major mistake to send newsletters which are predominantly promotional in nature. To the contrary, it’s good practice to follow the “two-thirds/ one-third rule”, which maintains that you should include two parts informational content for each part that is promotional. Your informational content should also dominate visually, meaning that your promotional content should not occupy your message subject or the upper-half of your newsletter body.

Because your audience will include both prospects and current customers, it’s important to publish a variety of material that contains items useful to both factions, such as:

[list:1zhrgf3o]- Maintenance and ownership tips
– Vehicle news and reviews (reprinted with the author’s permission)
– 3rd-party buying advice
– General interest articles and editorials
– Include offers and coupons[/list:u:1zhrgf3o]
Now we get to the marketing part. You will want to get the attention of subscribers who are in the market for a vehicle or other services by including promotional material such as:

[list:1zhrgf3o]- Vehicle discount coupons
– Vehicle service and accessory coupons
– Notices of specials programs and incentives (can include dealership and OEM promotions)
– Contest information (”enter to win”) [/list:u:1zhrgf3o]
The important thing to realize here is that your subscriber base includes prospects who are in the market for a vehicle as well as customers who will be in need of vehicle maintenance or accessories, so you should make sure that all your dealership’s profit centers are represented by your promotional elements.

Content of both the informational and promotional varieties should link to your dealership Web site. For instance, you should introduce an article in your newsletter and invite the reader to click-through to your site to read the article in its entirety, similar to the action you have taken in order to read this. This approach should also be used with your promotional content—in addition to decreasing your newsletter size, this method creates trackable clicks which can be used to identify in-market prospects, a subject we’ll visit next.

Collect, review and act on your newsletter metrics

Most e-mail marketing solutions and software give you the ability to monitor your newsletters’ key performance indicators, such as open-rates, click-through rates and post-click activity. Not only will doing this help you to determine which newsletter elements attract the most opens and clicks, but it will also help you to identify potential sales opportunities. For instance, if a particular newsletter subscriber clicks-through to your Web site to download a coupon or read more about a vehicle promotion, they will have identified themselves as a potential customer with whom you should follow-up.

Enlist the services of a qualified ESP

The actions we have outlined thus far probably represent more effort and time than you care to expend, which is exactly why you should enlist an e-mail service provider, or ESP, to conduct your newsletter campaigns. An ESP can facilitate all the important elements of a successful newsletter campaign, including:

[list:1zhrgf3o]- Designing your newsletters for optimum deliverability (getting past the spam filters) and rendering (how it looks in your recipients’ e-mail programs)
– Improving your delivery and open rates through e-mail authentication, ISP white listing and message personalization
– Sending your newsletters from a dedicated mail server to prevent your own from being “blacklisted” by ISP’s
– Maintaining your “list hygiene” by removing bad e-mail addresses and decreasing the amount of “bounced” newsletters
– Maintaining compliance with federal and state spam law
– Collecting, organizing and presenting your newsletters’ performance metrics [/list:u:1zhrgf3o]___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Kevin Hampton

Which Email is Most Important? Your Next One

It’s not uncommon for me and my training partners to have dealership internet team members request help developing effective emails. From the auto response to the appointment confirmation and even long-term emails, there’s a great need to find the right verbiage to generate a positive response from your prospects. Experience has shown that there’s no specific email that’s always effective, and, in the mix of emails that a typical internet specialist sends out, there’s no specific email that’s most valued by the prospect. So, which email is the most important? In my opinion, it is the next email you send. Why? Allow me to explain.

Automotive internet shoppers start the buying process very early compared to a traditional offline car shopper, and, as such, it is difficult to know which stage of the process they’re in when a request is generated. Some prospects’ intentions are easy to tell because their request for information comes in with a request for information, such as a vehicle identification number, a specific vehicle price request, a trade value request or even a make-an-offer request. In these situations, it’s very likely that if you respond with specific information about their request you’ll generate a response and be off to the races.

However, there are some situations where, no matter what you send prospects, they likely will not respond, or at least will not respond in the manner you’d like them to because they don’t understand why you’re contacting them in the first place. These situations are caused by today’s hypercompetitive lead-generation environment in which some lead-generators are under the gun to generate revenue and therefore go to extraordinary lengths to convince a prospect to provide personal data, which is then sold to a dealer as a lead. Although these leads aren’t as valuable to dealers, they nonetheless cost the same price. The bottom line: Understand where you generate your prospects from and ensure that your team has the advantage of working with leads generated from actual prospects who are more likely to respond to your approaches by email, phone, postal mail and text messages. Given the market reality that a large number of the leads that dealers purchase from aggregators have no intention of buying right away, let me offer some common sense approaches to sending effective emails.

Be Your Own Focus Group

Consider how you read your own email and try to be considerate of this when you send out email communications. If you find yourself opening emails from particular companies, reading them and responding, then they are likely doing something right that you should incorporate into your own approach. Sometimes we look too much at other car dealerships to find the silver bullet approach, when I find that mimicking leading email marketing companies, such as Amazon, eBay, Expedia and others, is more effective. Sign up for enewsletters or information emails from these sources if you really want to see how to nurture a prospect long-term.

Make the Subject Line Relevant

Even if I were not expecting an email from a car dealership, I would be likely to click on a link that said “Click here for your car price.” To that end, make sure your subject line meets the expectations of the consumer and watch out that you don’t send an email with buzzwords that spam filters will block.

Don’t Write a Book

I find that most consumers who rely on emails to gather information are scanners who will quickly scan an email for information that is important to them. Because of this, I recommend short and especially easy-to-read emails that contain links to more information, should the prospect see value. I especially like links to sources that provide trade values and financing information. If prospects complete these fields, they’re showing their true intentions.

Tell Them Who You Are

You wouldn’t hand me a business card without your dealership name or logo on it, just as you probably wouldn’t send a letter that wasn’t written on your own stationary. Make it easy for your prospects to know who is sending them email by centering the name of your dealership at the top of the email, along with a link to your website and your phone number. I know you likely have this data in your signature at the bottom, but if you consider how many times a television commercial tells you their phone number, you can appreciate the benefit of this redundant act.

Make the Message About the Customer

If you’re in the habit of sending blanket emails that aren’t relevant to the original request, you might find that prospects who might otherwise have eventually considered you will not because the information you sent wasn’t what they were interested in when they filled out the request. If you send me a commercial truck flyer when I wanted a convertible, I may unsubscribe from future emails.

Be Patient

A prospect may not respond right away, no matter how Shakespearian your writing. Keep reminding them in subsequent emails that you are the right choice and you’ll eventually get the response you want.Keep this information in mind, and I can assure you that prospects will start responding better to your email communications. Most important of all, before you hit the send button make sure you would see value in the email you’re about to send if you were the prospect.

Written by David Kain
Kain Automotive

Work Smarter, Not Harder On eMail Communications

According to a 2004 Jupiter study, more than 39 percent of dealerships take three days or more to respond to online customer queries, while some dealerships don’t respond at all. Why is it your employees are spending more time than ever answering e-mails, yet it still takes days for your customers to receive a response? The answer may be in the way your customer relationship management software (CRM), business development center (BDC) and service and sales force are handling Internet queries.

Far too often, employees from sales to parts and service to your BDC work harder, but not smarter when it comes to e-mail responses. They create and send a new e-mail for every customer request or question. When you look at the type of requests you receive via e-mail and the responses you send out, you’ll quickly learn you’re giving the same information over and over again, causing a decrease in efficiency for your dealership. The good news is this is a common problem and one that is easy to solve with the use of e-mail templates.

What is an e-mail template?
E-mail templates are pre-written form letters you can send out to communicate with your customers regularly. They are often included in CRM and lead management systems.

What communications need a template?
When determining the templates you’ll need, take stock of the different types of communication you will have with your customer throughout their relationship with your dealership.

Examples include:

[list:37k55cgi]* Marketing to bring ups in the door.
* Sales to help sell the vehicle.
* Surveys to increase CSI scores.
* Parts and service to increase revenue.
* Courtesy reminders to ensure no-shows are kept to a minimum. [/list:u:37k55cgi]
Every dealership should have a solid marketing plan to pull customers in the front door. But it doesn’t have to mean spending thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign. Some of the most successful campaigns have started with a simple e-mail to customers who fit the desired criteria.

Marketing templates should have the following elements:

[list:37k55cgi] * Personalized introduction
* Short, to-the-point copy
* A clear call to action
* A link back to your web site or other promotions [/list:u:37k55cgi]
By personalizing the template with the individual’s name, easily done in most software programs, you increase the chances of getting your message past the spam filters and read by the customer. Below is an example of a template e-mail to encourage trade-in sales.

[list:37k55cgi]Dear Sally Customer:
We are always searching for ways to best meet our customers’ needs. We have identified a significant demand for vehicles like yours. We invite you to contact our sales department at 555-5555 or visit our store to discuss trading in your high-demand vehicle for top-dollar and to take advantage of new car pricing that we offer to only our most loyal customers.[/list:u:37k55cgi]
The e-mail is personalized, one paragraph in length and gives the customer a strong call to action to call or visit the store and learn the value of their high-demand vehicle.

Once your initial e-mail marketing template has effectively brought in the customer to look and perhaps test drive a vehicle, it’s time to send out the sales e-mail. This should happen within a day of the customer visiting your dealership.

Your sales template e-mail should include the following elements:

[list:37k55cgi]* A thank you for visiting or contacting the dealership
* An invitation to contact you for more information
* Contact information for the sales associate
* Links to other promotions within your dealership
(Note: Some of the systems even offer multi-media commercials via e-mail.) [/list:u:37k55cgi]
Once you’ve communicated with the customer through the marketing and sales phases and sold the vehicle, it’s important to ensure they’ve had a good experience. A dealership survey sent out within a few days of the sale can help you spot trouble areas before the manufacturer’s CSI survey is mailed.

Your survey template should include the following elements:

[list:37k55cgi]* A thank you for buying a vehicle or coming in for service
* The survey itself (no more than five questions should be asked)
* A contact number if the customer is not fully satisfied
* A link back to your web site [/list:u:37k55cgi]
Below is an example of a survey template e-mail.

[list:37k55cgi]Dear Sally Customer:
As [your dealership] service department we want to thank you for your recent visit. Your satisfaction is our number one priority. To help us provide you with our highest level of customer satisfaction, please take a moment to answer the following questions. If you feel you cannot honestly give us the highest marks, please contact us at 555-5555.[/list:u:37k55cgi]
Parts and service
Once the vehicle is sold and you’re sure the customer is completely satisfied, it’s time to turn your attention to additional dollars from the sale of the vehicle. The best way to accomplish additional revenue is to keep the customer coming through your service and parts departments. Several messages can be used to bring customers back in for maintenance on their vehicle. Some templates include oil change reminders, 10,000 mile check-up, 30,000 and 60,000 mile check-up messages and introduction of new aftermarket parts.

Your service communications should include the following elements:

[list:37k55cgi]* Personalized greeting
* Special offer for maintenance services (e-coupons work well)
* Contact information for your service department
* A link back to your web site and any other parts and service specials [/list:u:37k55cgi]
Courtesy notices
Once your customer has responded to the e-mail and set a service appointment, it’s important to keep the communication going with a courtesy notice.

Your courtesy notice should include the following elements:

[list:37k55cgi]* Personalized greeting
* Reminder of appointment date and time
* Information on how to confirm the appointment
* A link back to your web site [/list:u:37k55cgi]
Many systems on the market today enable your customer to click on a button in the e-mail and automatically schedule an appointment online.

Below is an example of a courtesy notice.

[list:37k55cgi]Dear Sally Customer:
This is a note to remind you to bring your car in for an oil change on [insert date and time here]. You can confirm your appointment by visiting our web site at or by calling 555-5555.
We look forward to seeing you.
Parts and Service Manager[/list:u:37k55cgi]
Templates are a quick and easy way to ensure your employees are following up on every communication in a professional and timely manner. Explore the templates in your CRM or lead management system and create a more efficient dealership for you and a better experience for your customers – today.

Gary Nixon is CEO of CIMA Systems, makers of automated customer interaction tools for dealerships.

Put Punch in Your Emails to Auto Buyers

When you get a dealership inquiry from your website, what communication is your prospective buyer getting in return?

If your email responses are dry and lack the punch that generates a dialog, try adding some compelling information that entices a response by touching on their emotions. Making a large financial decision in uncertain economic times is more difficult that when blue skies are the norm, so auto salespeople need to make sure they don’t leave their prospects with a "so what" interpretation of their interaction with you.

You’ve all heard about how customer reviews are the new measuring stick for evaluating purchases, so take advantage of that by including them in your emails to add some punch that gets attention and gets them thinking.

As an example, I went to and clicked on the Nissan Maxima. From the customer reviews there, I pulled out the following phrases:

[list:2ro2w3ul]- Maxima stands on its own. No other car in its class can match Maxima’s engine performance, handling, styling, build-quality and luxury.
– Maxima is a fine machine with top of the line performance without the price tag of luxury brands.
– Absolutely wonderful powertrain. Really comfortable seating.[/list:u:2ro2w3ul]
Overall, the Nissan Maxima rates a 4.5 out of a possible 5 from customers.

A response to someone who inquired about a blue 2008 Nissan Maxima might read this way:

[list:2ro2w3ul]Hi Joe,

Thanks for inquiring about the 2008 Nissan Maxima. We’ve got five in stock ranging from $25,771 to $27,829, and two of them are blue. I look forward to showing you how great the Maxima is, but figured you might also like to know what other owners are saying in online reviews about their Maximas:

[list:2ro2w3ul]- Maxima stands on its own. No other car in its class can match Maxima’s engine performance, handling, styling, build-quality and luxury.
– Maxima is a fine machine with top of the line performance without the price tag of luxury brands.
– Absolutely wonderful powertrain. Really comfortable seating.[/list:u:2ro2w3ul]
To see for yourself why the Maxima rates a 4.5, out of a possible 5, by its drivers, call my direct line at 333-4456 or reply to this email and let me know when you’ll be down to drive one.

Best regards,
Sam Salesperson[/list:u:2ro2w3ul]
Incorporating reviews into your emails can help give your potential customers some insights to what other drivers/owners of the vehicle are saying and act as an emotional engagement component. There’s nothing that says it has to be your customer reviewing the car, so get out there and find some reviews you can use to put some punch into your emails.

One word of advice is to make sure you also assess the improvement comments and are ready to address them when your customer gets to the showroom. This will go a long ways toward demonstrating your expertise and transparency if your prospects have done their research. Chances are, they have.

Written on

Send Dealership Info the Right Way

I’ve used this blog ( to stress the importance of following up with your leads and customers after they leave your dealership, but I wanted to use the recently published CapGemini Cars Online study to talk about the importance of following up in the most appropriate manner. It’s not only what you say, but it’s also the manner in which you send your communications.

One person interviewed for the study said “I would like to see friendly service after the sale of the vehicle, instead of salespeople just getting the commission, and then forgetting the customer.” I’ll assume that this isn’t the intention of most sales people, but this is unfortunately how many of your customers will view a lack of follow up. But like I said, it’s not enough to simply communicate with them after they leave your dealership; you need to do so in the manner that they prefer.

Overall, customers prefer to be contacted via email, but this can vary depending on the type of communication being sent. For example, people generally prefer to be contacted via postal mail when being sent vehicle brochures (45%) and welcome packs after purchasing (46%). Email, however, is the preferred method for newsletters (55%), post-test drive surveys (52%), as well as surveys after service (51%) and purchases (51%). Being called by a dealership is preferred by 33% of customers after they have filed a complaint with the dealership. An interesting aspect in this study is the rise of customer desire to be contacted by text message for things such as service reminders (16%) and invitations to dealership events (10%).

While they are still in your dealership, ask your customers and leads how they wish to be contacted. Give them the option of different methods for different types of communication, and make sure that you abide by what they say. This means putting a little extra effort to create different forms of the same stock communication, and using them when appropriate. It’s not just a matter of following up with those who leave your dealership anymore; anyone can do that. What will really set your dealership apart from the rest is taking into consideration how your customers and potential customers wish to be contacted by your dealership, and then respecting their wishes.

Written by Ali Amirrezvani

The E-Factor

Today, e-mail is not being leveraged to its full potential. At best, it is being used only to respond to customer inquiries. Unfortunately, even that is being implemented marginally. The biggest attraction of e-mail marketing is the cost. Compared with the traditional channels of marketing, using the Internet and e-mail to communicate your message with your prospects and customers is extremely cost effective.

Start Building a Database of E-mail Addresses Now

The first step to creating a marketing program via the Internet is to start collecting the e-mail addresses of your customers and prospects. They are your best potential source of future revenue. The number of consumers who have e-mail addresses will pleasantly surprise you. E-mail is not limited to the stereotypical young, computer savvy individual. For example, my 90-year-old great aunt sends an e-mail message to my mother every week from her retirement home in Arizona.

You need to create various methods of collecting e-mail addresses. Once you start to create a database of e-mail addresses you can develop different campaigns to communicate with both your prospects and your customers. Look into the future. Five years from now you will have the e-mail addresses of virtually every person who has ever visited your dealership. Imagine the power of that database. The marketing potential is endless and the cost is next to nothing!.You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for mailing lists. It’s all right there in your own database! You couldn’t buy a more valuable database if you tried.

So, what can you say to collect email addresses?

[list:v88qj1kx]"Can I get your email address so that we can communicate with you easily? We can also send you special offers, recall info, and service reminders."[/list:u:v88qj1kx]

As simple as the question is, it may cause some concern for customers to comfortably give out their email address. Here are some questions customers will ask and possible replies:

What do you plan to do with my email address?

[list:v88qj1kx]"Your email address will be kept completely private, and will only be used to communicate with you regarding your vehicle and dealership news. At any time, you may choose not to receive emails from our store."[/list:u:v88qj1kx]

Will you rent or sell my name?

[list:v88qj1kx]"No, we will not rent or sell your address to any third party. If this policy changes in the future, we will ask your permission first."[/list:u:v88qj1kx]

What if my email changes?

[list:v88qj1kx]"Please call us or send us an email, and we’ll change it. If the email address "bounces," we’ll simply stop sending messages to that address."[/list:u:v88qj1kx]
One word of advice: no matter how poorly your Internet program is going today I want you to remember that this is the future of your business, in one capacity or another, and it takes an investment of both money and time to grow into a successful business. Your success will come one day at a time and the winners will be the ones who stayed in the game and figured out how to play to win. Email marketing will help you become more successful with very little financial investment.

So, don’t wait – start collecting those e-mail addresses now!!