Your dealership will go nowhere fast without an effective dealership email marketing campaign. Along with online ads, promotions, and direct mail, email marketing for car dealerships can help generate leads and convert them to sales. Email is the “workhorse” of digital marketing according to the Direct Marketing Association. With anywhere from a 31% – 43% return on every dollar spent, it is an important aspect of how you generate new sales for your dealership. The key is to get more subscribers to sign up but also to open and read your emails. Just because you have been doing dealership email marketing for a while does not mean you shouldn’t test or continually refine your emails and process. Below are just a few tips on how to really engage via dealership email marketing.

1.  A Compelling Subject & Headline

An email is no good if the recipient does not open it. Short but well written subject lines increase the open rate of your emails. 35 characters is a good rule of thumb. Think about a magazine stand and how compelling the headlines are. They draw you in; much like the news promos on television i.e. up at 11:00 o’clock find out why Georgia residents are striking back…  Also the email messaging should be personal. A personalized subject line using the subscribers name and vehicle can give you up to a 15% lift.

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy. You want to lead with a benefit then another that follows it.

Examples of dual benefit headlines/subject lines (may need to reduce characters for the subject line).

  • How to get a car loan and drive your dream car while saving money

o   Get your dream car and save money! (35 characters)

  • How to get a car loan that saves you money
  • How to get a new car and reduce your monthly payments
  • Mention this email and get…

A List or numbers always work for headlines but are harder to translate within the subject line. Such as 3 ways to avoid… or 5 fail proof… Trying different subject lines and testing can improve your rate of return thus increasing sales.

2.  Three words: Call to Action (CTA)

Ultimately, you want to convert subscribers to buyers. Email has a 37% impact on the customer journey to conversion. Getting your emails opened maybe your first step but the true measurement is the click through rate on your call-to-action content. Every call-to-action cannot have priority so DON’T add as many as you can to each and every email. First choose which call-to-action is highlighted and write that headline first, then use a version within your subject line. From there you can design your content. You want them to read your email and then do something, whether it is to go to your website, give your dealership a call, or test drive a car. Throughout your dealership email marketing products, include CTAs that have a benefit and are urgent.


“Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving.”

David Ogilvy


What is it you want your reader to do? Why should they click? If you have a strong subject line and headline an average of 2 out of 10 will follow through on reading further. Be sure you get them there!

3.  Personalization

Efforts at email marketing for car dealerships should be targeted. Therefore segmentation is key. Email blasts are “old school” and it is far easier to delete than to complain or unsubscribe. Think about it, you may be naïve about what is really happening so be sure to segment and target by offering the best email marketing service providers have to offer. Some of the best platforms on the market are reasonably priced, allow easy access and reporting and can offer mobile email support. Segmentation doesn’t mean that you need to send out a unique email to each recipient. What it does mean is that you should be selective. If they have selected preferences for which types of information they are interested in, be sure to send them that information. For example, they may be interested in small hybrid cars. You might choose not to include them on your email list when announcing your annual SUV clearance sale.

Where they land is the final step in a successful campaign. Successful marketers know that it’s ridiculous to create an email and send subscribers to their home page. The home page is a “hot mess” and we all know it. Segmentation may mean more work but it will be worth it.

3 essentials to a successful landing page include:

  1. Asking for more than one thing. When given multiple options the easiest option is not to choose at all.
  2. Ignoring basic aesthetics. Bad fonts, garish colors, cheap highlighting and clip art do not make for better conversions in most cases.
  3. Being lazy. Web users still spend 80% of their time above the fold. This does not mean they won’t scroll.

Following even the most basic rules for subject and headlines, CTA’s, and personalization will incrementally increase the effectiveness of email marketing for car dealerships. Evaluate all aspects of your dealership email marketing campaigns to make sure that you are getting returns on your money and efforts. This may seem simple but very few email marketers actually do this and fewer do it well. As a workhorse let’s not leave dealership email marketing out to pasture.