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It's been over a decade since we started helping dealers with email marketing and the changes have been broader than just about every other form of digital advertising available, at least the ones that are still around. Email keeps changing, but it seems like it won't be dying any time in the near future despite reports of its demise that have been popping up for years.

There have been great changes and there have been damaging ones, but one thing has remained consistent throughout. The way that you work with your lists is more important to success than the message itself. That's not to say that the message isn't important, but if you're not getting into the inboxes, your message could be about giving away free cars with the purchase of a puppy and ice cream and there still wouldn't be anyone stopping by the dealership. If they can't see the message, did it ever really even happen?

One of the major positive changes that has happened in recent years is the improved accuracy of cleaning and appending tools. We've been able to save dealers money while simultaneously improving the effectivenes of their campaigns by putting the right data in the right places. Today, it has been broken down into three distinct objectives. How we parse the lists gives us the ability to make it work well for dealers. Even those of you who are doing it yourself can break it down just as we have:

  • CRM Data - The old saying about staying in contact with a prospect until they "buy or die" is antiquated. Today, it doesn't matter if they've bought. It doesn't matter if they can't buy. It does matter if they're dead, but that's why keeping your data accurate is so important. Today, mining your database and getting strong messages through to them days, weeks, months, and even years later can be an effective way to pull sales out of the grave. Unless you're willing to concede that your competitors are so good at their job that once they have a customer they own them for life, you need to treat your CRM list as the ultimate cold case file through which email marketing can make an impact.
  • Prospecting and Conquesting - Ah, the good ol' "bought" or "rented" email lists. These are the people that haven't done business with you, haven't contacted you, and have no reason to really hear what you have to say. That doesn't mean they won't! In fact, when the right messaging is applied (see, I told you messaging was important), you can generate leads and sales where they never existed before. Thin air - that's where you can move the needle.
  • DMS Data - Your customers are yours to lose. Are you losing them? Are you getting the full picture? Are you everything automotive to them? If they're buying your cars, they should be servicing with you. If they're servicing with you, they should be buying your cars. If they've bought one car, they should buy more from you. If they're getting some service from you, they should be getting it all. This is where we quote Don Draper from Mad Men: "You're happy with 50%? You're on top but you don't have enough. You're happy because you're successful... for now. But what is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness. I won't settle for 50% of anything. I want 100%. You're happy with your agency? You're not happy with anything. You don't want most of it. You want all of it and I won't stop until you get all of it."

It's a great time to be in the car business, but don't let that get in your way. Complacency doesn't fit in our industry. Make more happen.

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