Email marketing remains a powerful tool for your dealership to engage with customers, nurture leads and drive conversions.

A survey by Marketing Sherpa found that 91% of consumers want to receive promotional emails from brands.

However, consumers’ inboxes are flooded with countless promotional emails from businesses competing for your customers’ attention. In order for your emails to stand out, your team needs to implement effective email campaign strategies.

A well-executed email campaign can significantly boost brand awareness, drive sales and foster lasting customer relationships. We have compiled a list of must-have email strategies that your team should consider when creating email campaigns to maximize impact and achieve your marketing goals.


Strategy #1: Define & Segment Your Audience

The foundation of any successful email campaign starts with understanding your audience. Your goal should not be to send emails to anyone and everyone you can, as these will largely result in poor open rates and high bounce rates. This would be a waste of your dealership’s time and resources.


Knowing Your Target Audience

Focus your efforts on your target audience – in other words, the consumers who are interested in your inventory and services and are most likely to become a customer. Target audience can be defined by the following characteristics:

  • Geographic location
  • Age
  • Income levels
  • Hobbies
  • Purchase frequency
  • Previous purchases

A straightforward way to know your target audience is to create a “buyer persona,” which encapsulates all the characteristics of your ideal customer. You can start by answering these questions: What age range is most likely to be interested in the brands you carry? What’s the median income to afford the purchase? Do they need to be local, or are they willing to travel for the right unit?

You can also rely on analytical tools to help you identify your target audience. For example, your website analytics tools can show you which of your webpages are receiving the most traffic, how long visitors linger on each page and what links they click on. This will give you insight on what the majority of your website visitors are browsing for on your platform. Tools like Google Analytics will show real-time data on keyword rankings and search results, so you know what shoppers in your area are searching for.

Knowing your target audience will help you tailor your messaging to match their interests and incite purchases. The more accurate your audience list is, the better your advertising performance and conversion rates will be.


Segmenting Your Target Audience

One brown game piece set apart from five red game pieces

In order to actually reach the right audience with the right message, you’ll need to divide your target list into smaller groups based on specific criteria. This is known as segmenting your audience. Audience segmentation is identified as the most effective email marketing strategy, according to HubSpot.

Segment your email list based on demographics, purchase history, returning vs. new customers and engagement levels. This allows you to deliver highly targeted and personalized content that resonates with each segment, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion.

Audience segmentation also makes it easier to track customers’ actions, as you can see what percentage of each email list is opening the email and clicking the links to your website to make a purchase.


Strategy #2: Craft Compelling Subject Lines

Subject lines are the gateways to your emails. A well-crafted subject line entices recipients to open the email and discover what you have to offer. An irrelevant or confusing subject line may cause your audience to delete the email without opening it.

To entice recipients to open your emails, craft compelling subject lines that stand out in crowded inboxes. Make sure your subject lines reflect the main message of the email. Don’t be misleading with your subject lines or try to be too creative and wind up confusing your audience.

Here are some best practices for email subject lines:


Be Concise

Aim for subject lines that are short and to the point. Most email platforms display only a limited number of characters, so make sure your subject line is clear and impactful within that space. We recommend you aim to keep your subject lines under 60 characters.


Create a Sense of Urgency

Use words that create a sense of urgency and encourage immediate action. Limited time offers, countdowns or exclusive deals can prompt recipients to open your email quickly.

Example: “Save Big on Memorial Day Prices – This Weekend Only!”


Use Action-Oriented Language

Encourage recipients to take action by using strong verbs and action-oriented language that creates a sense of excitement.

Example: “Take Home a New Electric Mower Today!”


Focus on the Benefits

Clearly communicate the benefits or exclusive offers that recipients can expect by opening your email. Showcase what’s in it for them.

Example: “Join Our Email List for Exclusive Deals on New Watercrafts!”


Include A/B Testing

Experiment with different subject lines and perform A/B tests to compare their performance. Analyze the open rates and engagement metrics to determine which subject lines resonate best with your audience.


Strategy #3: Personalize Content

One-size-fits-all emails are a thing of the past. While sending the same email out to your entire customer base is the easiest way to get in front of shoppers, the Next in Personalization 2021 Report  found that 76% of consumers expect personalized content from brands. And if your email doesn’t match their interests, it’s likely to be discarded.

Personalizing your email content is key to grabbing shoppers’ attention and convincing them to click on your email and then visit your website. Personalization goes beyond addressing recipients by name. It involves understanding your audience and leveraging data insights to deliver relevant content that speaks directly to their needs and preferences.


Behavioral Triggers

Set up triggered emails based on specific actions or behaviors, such as abandoned cart emails or follow-ups after a purchase. These automated emails can provide personalized recommendations or incentives to encourage recipients to take the desired action.


Personalized Recommendations

Use data about the recipient’s browsing or purchase history to provide personalized product recommendations that align with their interests. Showcase related or complementary items that they might find appealing.


Location-Based Offers

Tailor your emails based on the recipient’s location. Provide information about local dealership events and sales promotions to make the content more relevant and valuable.


Sent Time Optimization

Experiment with different sending times to identify when your recipients are most likely to engage with your emails. By analyzing open and click-through rates for different send times, you can determine the optimal time to deliver your messages.


Re-Engagement Campaigns

For inactive subscribers, implement re-engagement campaigns to remind them of the value your dealership offers. Use personalized content and exclusive offers to reignite their interest and encourage them to re-engage with your brand.


Strategy #4: Valuable & Relevant Content

Creating email content that appeals to your audience should go beyond sales pitches. Provide content that adds value to your audience’s lives and addresses their pain points.

Creating educational email content can position your dealership as a trusted resource and build credibility with your audience. The more valuable and relevant your content, the more likely recipients will engage with your emails.


Address Frequently Asked Questions

Think back to your buyer persona from Strategy #1: What questions are they likely to have about the industry? Identify common questions and concerns that shoppers have before, during and after making a buying decision. Share informative articles, industry insights and helpful tips.


Unit Comparison & Reviews

Provide detailed comparisons of different unit models, highlighting their features, performance and pricing. Include unbiased reviews or testimonials from customers who have purchased similar vehicles from your dealership. This information helps shoppers make informed decisions and showcases your dealership’s expertise.


Purchase Guides

Offer practical advice and guidance to shoppers to help them navigate the buying process. Topics could include researching different models, understanding financing options and post-purchase maintenance suggestions. Provide step-by-step guides and helpful resources to simplify the process and help shoppers feel comfortable about their purchase.


Maintenance & Service Tips

Educate your audience on proper vehicle maintenance, including regular servicing, seasonal maintenance, and DIY tips. Share insights on how to prolong the lifespan of a vehicle, optimize fuel efficiency and address common maintenance issues. This type of content demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction beyond the initial sale.


Bonus tip! If you want to avoid long, copy-heavy emails, and at the same time boost traffic to your website, give your audience just a small piece of the information and include a link to the full resource on your blog or inventory page.


Strategy #5: Engaging & Action-Oriented Design

Design plays a vital role in email campaign effectiveness. Create visually appealing and mobile-responsive email templates that align with your dealership’s branding. Use compelling visuals, clear call-to-action buttons and concise copy to guide readers towards the desired action, whether it’s making a purchase, scheduling a service appointment or contacting your dealership.


Visual Hierarchy & Scannable Content

Consumers don’t want to read a marketing email top to bottom; they want to scan the content for relevant information so they can quickly determine if it’s worth taking action.

Keep your email layout clean, organized and visually appealing. Use a single-column or grid-based design, as well as headings bullet points and short paragraphs, for easy scanning. Don’t overcrowd your email design; utilize white space to provide breathing room between elements, making it easier for the audience to focus on the essential parts of your email. White space also creates a sense of elegance and professionalism.

Ensure that the main message or call-to-action stands out prominently. Highlight key information and benefits that you audience needs to know, and break up long blocks of text with visuals to maintain engagement.


Eye-Catching Images

Incorporate high-quality and relevant images in your email design to make it visually engaging. This could be images of your inventory, happy customers or lifestyle shots that resonate with your target audience. Ensure that the images are properly optimized for fast loading, or else your email load time could lag and lose your audience.


Clear Call-to-Action Buttons

Make your CTAs visually appealing and easy to spot. Use contrasting colors, ample whitespace around the button and action-oriented language to encourage clicks. Examples of quick, actionable CTS include:

  • Call Today
  • View Here
  • Learn More
  • Schedule a Test Drive


Strategy #6: Optimize for Mobile Devices

Man in tan coat smiling down at phone in his handWith the majority of emails being opened on mobile devices, optimizing your campaigns for mobile responsiveness is essential. Creating a mobile-responsive email design can drive 15% more clicks.

Ensure that your emails are easy to read, navigate and interact with on various screen sizes. Use concise and scannable content, larger fonts and appropriately sized images to enhance the mobile user experience.

Ensure that CTAs are finger-friendly for mobile users. People typically use their thumbs to navigate, so make sure your call-to-action buttons are clearly visible and easy to tap on a smaller screen.


Strategy #7: Provide Clear and Easy-to-Find Contact Information:

Make it effortless for recipients to get in touch with your dealership by prominently displaying your contact information in your email footer or signature.

Including contact information in marketing emails encourages your audience to engage through various channels. Some customers may prefer phone calls, while others may opt for email or in-person visits. By providing multiple contact options, such as phone numbers, email addresses and links to your website and social media profiles, you can cater to individual preferences, ensuring that customers can reach out using their preferred method.

This facilitates communication and increases trust in your dealership’s professionalism and accessibility. It assures shoppers that your dealership is transparent and accessible, and it reinforces the knowledge that you value open communication and are readily available to address customer inquiries or concerns. This can instill confidence in potential customers and encourage them to engage further with your team.


Strategy #8: Automate Your Email Campaigns

Automated, trigger-based emails are 497% more effective than large batch emails. Why? Because automated emails are based on your shoppers’ actions, ensuring that each recipient receives email content that’s tailored to their interests and needs.

Automating your email marketing ensures timely and consistent communication, saving your team time and increasing the rate of conversion and customer retention. You can implement email automation to streamline your campaigns, simplify lead engagement and drive more traffic to your website.


Define Clear Goals & Objectives

Before diving into automated email marketing, your team should clearly define the goals and objectives for your automated campaigns. Whether it’s removing repetitive lead follow-up from your to-do list, promoting new inventory arrivals or re-engaging previous customers, having a clear focus will guide the automation process and ensure the campaigns align with your desired outcomes.


Build a Customer Journey Workflow

Create a well-defined customer journey workflow that maps out the series of automated emails a lead will receive. A strategic workflow will nurture leads at each stage, moving them closer to making a purchase.

Consider different touchpoints such as automated welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, post-purchase follow-ups and service reminders to re-engage your audience each time they take a new step in their buying journey.

Case study: See how a Florida-based Marine dealer uses automated follow-ups to stay in front of shoppers at every stage of the journey, amid heavy competition.


Integrate with CRM & Lead Management Systems

Integrate your email marketing automation platform with your CRM and lead management systems. This allows for seamless data synchronization, ensuring that lead information is up to date and triggers are accurately executed. Integration streamlines lead management processes, enabling a more efficient and cohesive approach to engagement.

If you’re an ARI dealer using our Automated Email Marketing (AEM) tool, you will receive monthly reporting emails detailing the performance of each of your email campaigns. While nothing is required of you to manually optimize your automated campaigns, these reports will give you insights into the efficacy of your email marketing. Click here to learn more about your AEM reporting and see how your results compare to top AEM users.


Strategy #9: Test & Optimize Email Strategies

Continuously test and optimize your email campaigns to improve their performance. Conduct A/B tests to compare different subject lines, layouts, call-to-action buttons and content variations. Monitor key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversions and unsubscribe rates to gauge campaign effectiveness. Use this data to refine your targeting, content and design choices so you can continuously improve your email marketing results.

Consumer interests and trends change over time, but when you continually review your email engagement and apply your findings to your strategy, you can prevent your messages from becoming outdated or stale.


An effective email campaign can be a game-changer for your by increasing customer engagement, driving more sales opportunities and building long-lasting relationships with your customers. By implementing the must-have strategies outlined in this article, you can significantly improve the impact and effectiveness of your email marketing initiatives, ultimately resulting in higher lead conversions and better qualified traffic to your inventory listings.