Do you struggle to identify and connect with qualified website leads while their interest is high?

Whether online shoppers are abundant or scarce, your dealership can benefit from an automated email marketing tool that nurtures your connection with leads – even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase yet.


The Purpose of Automated Email Marketing

Also referred to as email automation, automated email marketing tracks the website actions of someone who has submitted a lead form. The software then uses this data to send them a custom, timely email that delivers the right message at the right time. Automated emails spare you the time-consuming hassle of figuring out who’s visiting your website, what they want and what sort of email messaging will keep them interested in your brand.

Why does automated marketing matter for your dealership? A report from Forbes shows 71% of consumers experience frustration when they have an impersonal shopping experience. However, you aren’t a mind reader, and without knowing each lead’s specific interests, you can’t provide a personalized experience.

An automated email tool can track every website visitor who demonstrates an inclination to buy, capturing their specific interests and sending customized marketing emails at key points of the buying journey. A process that would take your team hours to fulfill can be completed with minimal manual input.

To really spotlight the merits of automated email marketing, we’ll review the key differences between traditional and automated marketing emails.


Traditional Email Marketing

While manual and automated email marketing share the objective of nurturing buyer interest, they differ in process and in results.

Traditional email marketing typically uses a “batch n’ blast” technique – brands send mass emails to all or most of their customer base, with the intention of promoting a sale or spreading brand awareness. Traditional marketing emails can be easy, quick and tailored to any campaign, which makes them appealing to busy marketers and businesses whose team members wear many hats.

Batch n’ blast emails may drive interest from a few customers, but they tend to have a low conversion rate, and here are a few reasons why:

  • Impersonal messaging: Mass email campaigns are unable to provide the personalization that consumers want to see from brands. When shoppers receive email content that doesn’t relate to their interests, they typically delete the email and may unsubscribe from the send list.
  • Time consuming: Any responses to a traditional email campaign have to be manually tracked and followed up on by your team. If you don’t have an internal marketing team, this responsibility will befall your salespeople, who may not have the time in their schedule to respond to every prospect email.
  • Lack of campaign data: Traditional email campaigns don’t offer much insight into how well your audience responds to email content, which makes it difficult to track the campaign’s ROI. You may be left wondering if your marketing emails are driving real results for your business.
  • Lack of calls to action: If an email’s primary purpose is to drive brand awareness, it may not include a proper call to action. This impedes lead conversion because the audience doesn’t have a clear next step to take.
  • Lead nurture roadblocks: Traditional emails are sent to large groups of shoppers at all stages of the buying funnel, which means a large percentage of the audience may not be ready to buy. If this is the case, the marketing email will do little to motivate them.

Now, let’s compare automated email marketing….


Automated Email Marketing

Automated emails are based on your audience’s actions, which means shoppers only receive emails that relate to their interests and their place in the sales funnel. The software that drives email automation kicks in when a shopper submits a lead form, and then it follows their progress around the website and generates a personalized message. Customized email examples include:

  • “Here are some similar units related to your search.”
  • “Come back, you still have items in your cart.”
  • “Congrats on your purchase! Here’s a discount on your first service appointment.”

The greatest benefit of automated emails is their ability to foster lead nurturing. Because they are based on a shopper’s actions, it doesn’t matter if a lead isn’t ready to make a purchase. The emails will include appropriate calls to action that encourage the shopper to take the next step in the sales purchase, until the time is right to buy.

Over the course of the buying process, it’s possible a shoppers’ interests will change – they may decide on a different unit or to buy used instead of new. As their shopping behavior changes so will the nature of their automated emails, which keeps your dealership in regular contact with prospects as they progress through their buying journey.


Automated emails drive 180% higher conversion rates than batch emails.

– VentureBeat

Email automation will keep shoppers connected to your dealership even after they’ve made a purchase – long after most business-buyer relationships go cold. Below is an example framework of how automated email marketing can shape the buyer journey:

  • “Here are some other units we think you’ll like.”
  • “Thanks for your business! Enjoy 20% off a future purchase.”
  • “It’s time to get your unit serviced.”
  • “Need a parts upgrade? We’ll offer you a discount!”
  • “Ready for a new ride? We’ll buy back your unit.”
  • “It’s been too long – come back and see us!”
  • “Check out new unit arrivals in our latest newsletter.”

The automation software is programed to send to send these emails at the right time, which spares your team the effort of repeatedly crafting these messages. Instead, they can focus on the sales leads that reach out to the dealership with questions.

Case Study: See How a Marine Dealer Uses Automated Email Marketing to Increase Their Buyback and Service Revenue

Now that we’ve covered the key differences and merits of automated email marketing, we’ll dive into the benefits.


Benefits of Automated Email Marketing

The objective of automated email marketing is to tip interested leads into a pre-approved marketing funnel that creates high-quality interactions with your prospects and streamlines the transition from lead to customer.

Here are the primary benefits of automated emails:

Impacting the Buyer Journey

Shoppers will look at multiple websites, so dealers who can proactively target their interests have a better chance of securing a sale. Without an automation tool, your dealership is in the dark about which webpages are drawing leads and what your shoppers are looking for when they visit your site.

Email automation flags the webpages and unit listings that shoppers peruse and uses customized emails to create a unique shopping journey for every lead. Instead of reacting to leads, you can drive the customer journey through automated, pre-written emails that capture shoppers’ interests before they get swept up by another dealership.

Instead of waiting for a shopper to contact your dealership, you can influence their next move with a well-timed email that encourages them to take a specific action, keeping them on the path to connect with your sales team. Rather than crossing paths with shoppers periodically during their online search, you can nurture their loyalty from the first contact through the rest of their time as a customer.

Following a purchase, a customer may not expect to connect with your brand again. This is where most businesses lose contact with their customer base. However, email automation lets you reconnect with buyers at any time, including days, months and years beyond the first sale.

Redirecting Your Team’s Efforts

Thanks to the timely, intuitive nature of automated emails, even the busiest and most thinly stretched teams can achieve a highly successful marketing campaign. You aren’t dependent on the size of your team to reach potential customers, as automated emails are triggered by your prospects’ actions.

You can spare your team from repetitively sending the same emails and instead use that time to focus on other tasks. This extra time back in their schedules can make a crucial difference during busy seasons or if your dealership is short on staff. Rather than laboring to follow up with every lead, your team can instead focus on closing deals.

Increasing Your Revenue

Email marketing has one of the highest ROIs among marketing strategies, generating an average of $42 dollars for every $1 invested, reports Oberlo. Automated email marketing is even more cost-effective than manual emails because your marketing spend is dedicated to leads who have shown they have strong inclination to buy. And because they are customized to each shopper’s interests, automated emails drive 320% higher revenue than manual emails, as found by Campaign Monitor.

Boosting Retention

Email automation optimizes the quality of your audience lists and customer base:

  • Email list: If your audience is fatigued by irrelevant or impersonal emails, they may choose to unsubscribe from your list. Emails that are timely, personalized and action-based will attract an audience list that’s eager to consume your content.
  • Customer base: Personalized emails promote a specific course of action for each customer (such as, complete a purchase or schedule a service appointment), which keeps them in the sales funnel. These emails can also revive stale leads and tip them back into an email list that will renew their interest.

Building Brand Affinity

Automated emails maintain ongoing shopper engagement by reaching specific leads with the right message at the right time. You audience won’t forget your brand because your next email will land in their inbox when they need it.

Consumers naturally develop an emotional attachment brands whose emails align with their needs and values. When the time comes to make a purchase, they’re more likely to choose you over a competitor thanks to the helpful, relevant emails that accompanied them through each step of the buying process.

Fostering Customer Loyalty

As you now know, email automation can reach buyers after they have made a purchase, solidifying their relationship with your brand. By continuing to engage customers with quality emails that match their interests, you’re proving to your customer base that they are more than a sales number in your CRM. According to Salesforce, 66% of customers do feel businesses treat them as a number rather than a person – but customized emails demonstrate that your dealership “sees” them as individuals, even if you haven’t met them in person.

So, how can you use automated email marketing to further your engagement strategy?


Automated Email Marketing in Action

The first step should be to choose an automated email marketing tool that’s compatible with your business. Quality email automation should be able to perform the following tasks:

  • Offer easy setup and tutorials (you shouldn’t have to be a marketing expert)
  • Automatically send custom emails based on key consumer actions
  • Let you identify which key actions will determine who receives an email and when
  • Deliver in-depth, easy-to-read email campaign analytics to your team

Capture Shopper Interest

Automated emails can intercept a lead’s buying journey at moments when their interest is at its peak, such as after they’ve submitted a lead form. Instead of your sales team scrambling to follow up on hot leads, your email tool can establish immediate connections before leads move on to a competitor’s website.

Remind Customers that You Care

Remember how more than half of consumers feel like a sales number? The post-purchase phase is a critical time to secure buyer loyalty, so that the next time they need to make a purchase they come back to you.

After a purchase, send customers a personalized thank-you email on behalf of the sales manager, congratulating them on their new unit. You can then send them automated service reminders and discounts for parts and repairs at timely intervals. Depending on the unit they purchase, you might send them a buyback offer after a year or two after purchase (just because a year has passed doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten them!).

You can also use automated emails to surprise and delight customers at any time by sending a special message that shows you’re thinking about them. This could be congratulating them on the anniversary of their purchase, wishing them a happy birthday or offering them a discount at their next visit “just because.”

Get Feedback from Customers

Want to get real buyer feedback while customers’ memories are fresh? You can send buyers a post-sale email asking them to share their experience with your dealership. Sending the email on the heels of a purchase will help you gain authentic, reliable feedback on your customer service. It also demonstrates to shoppers that you’re eager to hear their opinion and will apply their input to your process.

Dive into Email Data

Automated email marketing offers a rich insight into how your emails are performing with your audience. Schedule time to analyze your email data to know which messages are driving the highest conversions so you can apply these strategies to other digital marketing tactics. Are you seeing high conversion rates from your buy-back emails? You could drive even more buy-back business by creating a banner for your website or running a paid ad campaign with a similar message.

Note: If you’re an ARI customer using our Automated Email Marketing tool, your dealership will receive monthly reports tracking each email’s performance and the number of clicks it generated back to your website, so you know which messages are driving the most sales opportunities. Click here to learn more.

Email automation can seem complicated and flashy, but in reality, it’s intuitive and easy to use, even if you aren’t a marketing expert. Automated marketing emails relieve your team of the time-consuming task of lead nurturing, so they’re free to focus on leads who are ready to buy now and require immediate attention.


Claim Your Free Guide to Automated Email Marketing

We understand the importance of effective email marketing in driving customer engagement and boosting sales, and we would like to offer you a free resource to explore this strategy further. Our eBook “The Benefits of Automated Email Marketing” offers valuable insights to share with your team and take steps toward implementing a hands-free solution to re-engaging your customers.

Download Your Free Copy


If you are eager to learn more about automated email marketing, feel free to connect with ARI today to speak with our industry experts.