By David Kain, Kain Automotive

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.Reprinted with permission from Kain Automotive.