8 Ways To Guarantee Your Dealership’s Email Campaign Actually Works

Mar 18, 2015 | Email Marketing

Whether you’re sending an email to your database or seeking new customers around your zip code, it’s important to understand the factors that will influence whether or not your dealership’s email campaign actually works.

Simple adjustments such as including subject line previews, adding specific alt-text for image-only creative, and providing a “rescue” call-to-action will help propel your prospects into the sales funnel.

8 Ways To Guarantee Your Dealership’s Email Actually Works

1. Arrive in the inbox

Half of the battle with sending email is guaranteeing that your email is actually delivered, without bouncing or being flagged as spam.

When sending from your database, make sure you are scrubbing your contacts’ email addresses for incorrect or fake addresses to avoid an unnecessary bounce rate.

When sending conquest email, find a data provider that can claim a high sender score (we recommend a score of 85+) and solid deliverability percentage (we recommend at least 90% deliverability).

2. Tell ‘em who you are

Once you’ve landed in the inbox, you need to prove that you are meant to be there. To do this, you want to achieve name recognition as quickly as possible to help your recipients acknowledge who the message is from at a glance.

Use your dealership’s name and manufacturer as your sender address and name, not a vague sales-oriented address like [email protected].

If you’re sending multiple emails to the same audience (which you should be!) keep your sender address the same from campaign to campaign to establish a consistent brand presence.

In addition to a friendly From Address, add a descriptor that helps readers understand who the message is from and what the focus of the message will be, such as “Sarasota Ford Spring Offer.”

3. Nail the subject line

According to Lynn Baus of Oracle Marketing Cloud, the average recipient spends as little as 2 seconds deciding whether or not opening your dealership’s email campaign is worth their time. The more you can tell your readers about what value your email is going to bring to them, the better chance you have of relating to them and getting the open.

When deciding your subject line, be sure to consider:


Multiple studies have found that short subject lines work better, but it’s always worth testing what length works best for your dealership’s target audience. Experiment with super short, medium, and long subject lines to determine what your audience likes best.


The best subject lines are the ones that resonate the most with your recipients. Try different techniques to make your email’s intent clear, and be creative!

Want some examples of great subject lines for auto dealers and why they rock? You can get 20 Free Summer Subject Lines here, or 16 Free Winter Subject Lines here!

Best Creative Subject Line Practices For Auto Dealers

Extra room!

Most email clients offer a preview of your email’s text while it resides in the inbox. The preview uses the first 72-75 characters of text from the body of your email to give your recipients extra insight into what your message is all about. Use it to buffer your subject line and entice your recipients to open your email!

Optimize Email Subject Line Real Estate For Auto Dealers

Traditionally, this extra real-estate has been used to encourage clicks to the web version of your campaign for the emails that don’t render correctly, but the best dealer email campaigns make text actionable and relevant to the email body’s message. Check out some good and bad usage examples:

Auto Dealer Subject Line Best Practices

4. Back up your image-only creative

Our industry loves image-only emails. But most modern digital marketing warn against this technique because many email clients do not show images automatically, meaning your message won’t even show to recipients who don’t take the extra step to reveal your campaign.

However, despite the gurus’ warnings, we have noticed that database and conquest click-to-open rates hardly differ when comparing an image-only email to a true HTML email when 4 things are done correctly:

  • The email graphic is divided into sections
  • Tons of descriptive alt-text (the text descriptions that show even when images are off) is present
  • Every graphic section links to a landing page
  • The plain-text alternative version has a bunch of extra content to ensure the image makes it through spam filters

How McDonalds Uses Email Alt Text Correctly

Source: Email Design Review – McDonalds’ Image Only Creative Done Right

5. Help your readers identify and reach their goals

Obvious, right? Sure. Easy? Not quite. Because today’s digital consumers expect to be able to retrieve information in mere seconds, your users want to be able to decide if you’re offering relevant goals to them as soon as possible.

If your content does match up with their goals, they will then want you to help them address and achieve those goals — and they need you to show them how. This means making sure your message is as clear, relevant, and obvious as possible with distinct, vivid calls-to-action present to help guide your readers down their desired path.

6. Prioritize between your primary and secondary content

According to Litmus, your primary message needs to prominently display your most important call-to-action and above-the-fold, towards the top of your email. Overall, your primary content should:

  • Reinforce who you are (your brand)
  • Clearly state what you want your readers to do (the call-to-action)
  • Hint why they should do it (the value or benefit they will get from taking action)

Your secondary content, on the other hand, is where you can fill in the blanks for those who need a little more detail before they take the next step. Your secondary content should:

    • Include additional details such as specific features, your vehicle specials, pricing information, or service specials
    • Have calls-to-action in each module
    • Not compete with your primary content, but complement it

Auto Dealer Email Campaign Primary and Secondary Content

7. Rescue unsure readers

Sometimes your readers will be engaged by your email, but end up reaching the bottom without clicking. Rescue them!

Include a final call-to-action that reflects your primary content to ensure they don’t abandon the next step you want them to take. This can be in the form of contact information, an urgency reminder, or a navigation menu full of links to other pages on your website that may be more relevant to your reader.

The goal here is to reinforce your primary message in a different way—a last ditch effort to get the click.

8. Remember the purpose of your email

The most important thing to remember is that intent of your dealership’s email campaign is NOT to convert readers. Your email’s purpose is to convince them to take the next step.

It’s after they take that first plunge (clicking your call-to-action) that they will be able to make an informed decision and convert (i.e., value their trade on your website or schedule an appointment).

Find out how much information is needed to convince them to take that first step, and don’t include any more.

Decide the intent and length of your email based on the primary and secondary content alone, without adding any room for “just incase” content that is guaranteed to dilute your main message.

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Blog Author - Brooke Jensen

Written By Brooke Jensen
Brooke handles all of Dealers United’s digital marketing. In addition to her love for design and copy, Brooke also adores her two dog-like kittens, playing the electric violin, and walking barefoot around the office.

Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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