Awful Email Stats that No Marketer Wants to See

Most dealerships are actively trying to collect email addresses from their prospects and customers because email marketing continues to be one of the most cost-effective marketing options there is.

But as your email list grows, it is important to know that bigger isn’t better.

In Acxiom’s report: “Email Marketing and Mobile Devices: A Survey of Consumer Habits and Perceptions – 2013,” they found:

- Nearly 49% of respondents have email accounts for messages they rarely intend to open.

- 38% have two personal email accounts

- 21% have three accounts

You obviously want to be offering email content that justifies people giving you their primary email address, but even then, as your list grows your open rates will decrease as you inevitably add inactive email addresses. While having inactive email accounts on your list wasn’t a big deal 10 years ago, now it is a game changer. These days you need to be actively managing your email list.

Email companies such as Yahoo, Gmail, etc., are looking at your list’s engagement rate when trying to determine whether or not to deliver your email to the inbox or the spam folder. If people aren’t opening and clicking on your email, you may find your emails getting delivered to the spam folder rather than the inbox.

Here’s an example of the impact cleaning out inactive subscribers can have.

We had a newsletter client with a low open rate. Typically, we like to see an open rate of at least 25%. We did a list analysis of their database which had about 13,000 contacts. It turned out that almost a third of the list were prospects (we usually email just customers, not prospects). The prospects on the list were pretty easy to identify, not just because they were missing a customer number, etc., but because their open rate was so low.

We sent a re-engagement email to the inactive prospects and moved the non-responders off the list. Here’s a comparison of what happened.

- Initially emailed 13178 newsletters with 1976 unique opens which is a 15% open rate.

- After removing the inactive prospects, we emailed 9548 newsletters with 2504 unique opens which is a 26% open rate.

The important metric in this example is not just that the open rate went up, but that the number of actual opens increased by more than 500 while sending 3630 fewer emails. As an added bonus, the client also reduced their newsletter fee since we bill by the number of emails sent.

Here are a few implementation ideas:

1. Keep prospecting emails in your prospecting campaigns.

2. Keep customer emails in your customer retention / newsletter campaigns.

3. For both lists, if a person hasn’t opened an email in 6 months, they probably are not going to. Try sending a re-engagement campaign or contact them by phone for an updated email address and if that doesn’t work, move them off the list.

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention | Comments Off

Are You Ignoring this Godzilla-Sized Email Trend?

Mobile continues to take over the world. Here are some recent stats on email marketing and how you can apply them to improve your marketing results. (Link: reported that the percentage of emails opened on a mobile device reached a new high of 51% last year. For webmail users such as Aol, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, the mobile open rate bumps to 61%.

Have you looked at how your emails render on a smart phone? How much do people have to manipulate your content to be able to easily read it?

A study from Acxiom last year analyzed what people do if an email doesn’t look good on their phone:

- 70% delete it

- 28% use a computer

- 16% unsubscribe

- 9% try to read it

If you’re not taking advantage of a responsive design that displays your content based on the device it is being viewed on, you’re hurting your results.

Last year we switched our newsletter format to a responsive design. This means if you look at the newsletter on a desktop, you’ll see a two-column version. If you look at it on a smartphone, the left column is automatically suppressed so only the column with the stories displays which makes it much easier to read on a mobile device. Our internal study showed the average click through rate for the non-responsive design was 28.5% versus 31.3% for the responsive design.

How does that number translate into customers?

If you email 5000 newsletters and have a 25% open rate, the responsive design is helping an additional 35 people click through which can add up over time.

Some resources to help you with mobile email design:

1. See how your email looks on different devices

2. How-To Guide to Responsive Email Design:

3. Free email templates:

4. Responsive Email Design

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention, Responsive automotive newsletters, Social Media and Newsletters | Comments Off

5 Ways to Personalize Your Car Dealership Email Marketing

Relevance is one of the key reasons people subscribe to emails and automotive newsletters. They want information that is going to be specific to them and their situation. If you are sending mass email blasts to everyone about the same thing, then check out these ways to get a little more personal:

1. Personalize subject lines with their name. This is an easy one. Personalized subject lines generally deliver higher open rates.

2. Personalize based on their vehicle. Truck month tips can go to truck owners. Summer traveling tips with kids could go to minivan owners. You probably won’t have time to come up with custom content for each type of vehicle, each month – but even if you do it once or twice a year, it can make a nice impression.

3. Personalize by date. If they bought a car from you, you have their birthdate so why not send a birthday email? You also have the date of their vehicle purchase which could make for a fun car birthday email: “Happy 1st Birthday to Your Honda Accord!”

4. Personalize by contract. Is their lease expiring? Warranty expiring? These emails can let them know what their options are.

5. Personalize by activity. Has it been over a year since their last vehicle service? Why not send a special offer with a “We Miss You Message.” Or, if they’ve never missed an oil change, how about a thank you with a free car wash offer?

What ways are you personalizing your emails?

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4 Ways to Increase Your Email List for Your Automotive Newsletter

As you may know, I’m a big proponent of automotive newsletters as a way to maintain long term relationships with customers, promote front-of-mind awareness and add value to your messages. I often get questions from clients about using email append services to grow their email marketing list. Append services are fine but expensive. Sometimes, the easiest way to get more prospects and customers to join your newsletter list, is simply to ask them. I thought it might be worth reviewing a few options you can use to collect more emails for your car dealership newsletters.

1. Incentivize your service advisors. When customers are in for service, have the advisors check to see if their email address is up-to-date and if there isn’t one on file, ask if they would like to start receiving your helpful newsletter and service coupons.

2. Online sign-ups. Can visitors to your website, blog, facebook page, etc. easily join your email list? What about including a sign-up form on your service coupon page? Get your customers in the habit of checking your newsletter each month for exclusive service coupons and you never know when the article/video about a new model will catch their eye and generates a new sale. It happens all them time.

3. Are you still doing a lot of direct mail to your customers? Why not include a promotion to give away a gas card or an iPad in a free drawing to all of those people who go online to register for your newsletter. Look at what you are spending per direct mail piece and it won’t take long to justify the expense of the prize you give away.

4. In store displays. It is rare that all those business cards that get dropped into a fish bowl to join a mailing list actully ever get entered into a database. For about $500 (about the cost to send 1000 mailers), why not have a computer station in your service lounge so people can sign up directly? Set up an autoresponder so that their sign-up triggers the receipt of a special parts/service/accessory discount.

These email capture options are easy to set-up and don’t require a lot of labor to maintain.

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5 Ways to Get Your Email Ready for the Holidays

Yep, it’s soon going to be that time of year when online retailers start flooding your customers’ inboxes with messages of good tidings and special savings. Here are some tips you can implement now, to help your email marketing be more successful in December.

1. Beat the Rush
Do you normally send out a Happy Holidays email? Why not get ahead of the inbox stampede and send a Happy Thanksgiving email instead. You might want to mention that a gift card to your service department makes a great gift by helping the recipient maintain one of their most expensive investments.

2. Re-engage Your List
If you have folks on your email marketing list that haven’t opened an email from you in a year, do you really think that during the busy holiday season they will start? Probably not. How about sending a re-engagement campaign to them now to find out if they still want to receive your emails? Clearing out these inactive emails will really help your deliverability in December. One of the things email providers look at in determining whether or not to deliver your email to the inbox or the spam folder is how engaged your email list is and getting the inactive folks off helps your open rate.

3. Check Your Calendar… Twice
Thursdays in December typically have the highest email volume. Saturdays surprisingly often have great open rates. When you are planning which days to send your emails, keep in mind these events:

Black Friday is November 29
Small Business Saturday is November 30
Cyber Monday is December 2
Green Monday is December 9

4. Reduce Holiday Fatigue
During the holidays it is more important than ever not to fatigue your email database. Take a moment and make sure your sales and service departments are spacing out their email campaigns. Keep your sales force informed as well about which days you’ll be sending out campaigns.

5. Make Sure Your Message is Mobile Friendly
Open rates on mobile devices will likely increase even more in December as people are busy running holiday errands. Make sure your message renders well on mobile devices or you will quickly find that busy customers will hit the delete button. If you want to see what your email looks like on 68 email platforms and mobile devices, take a look at

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention, Social Media and Newsletters | Comments Off

Yahoo Email Alert for Automotive Newsletter Marketing

If you’re a car dealer sending automotive newsletters (or you do any type of email marketing), here is an update that will impact your email marketing to Yahoo users.

Yahoo recently announced that they will be releasing user IDs that haven’t been accessed in over 12 months and making those user IDs available for someone else to register. Additionally, Yahoo announced a policy that user IDs will be released after 12 months of inactivity moving forward. So Yahoo users who don’t log into their accounts in 12 months will lose their user ID.

What this means for yahoo users:
If your current email is and you’ve always coveted the address – this may be your lucky chance to get it.

What this may mean for car dealers (and all email marketers):
Once this update goes into effect, a couple of things could happen. Let’s use the example of Bob changing his email from to to the new which becomes available.

1. If you currently have in your email database:

A. And a new person registers, you’ll be sending your email to the wrong Bob. What do people do that get email they didn’t ask for? They hit the spam button which impacts your deliverability to all yahoo users if your complaint rate gets too high (we like to stay in the range of 1-2 per 1000).

B. And no one registers, you’ll send to a bad email address which will bounce. High bounce rates can impact your deliverability as well.

2. If you currently have in your email database – you may or may not get notified of the address change. Sending to the old address may or may not forward to the new address. Details aren’t clear yet.

What do we recommend?
1. Clean out your inactive yahoo user accounts (we recommend this for all email accounts) and continue to purge inactive accounts moving forward since this will affect all yahoo accounts that become inactive at 12 months.

2. Work with a newsletter company that will proactively keep your list clean and your emails going to the inbox… our phone number is (800) 879-8870 if you would like more details.

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters | Comments Off

How to Get More Mobile Emails Opened

Emails opened on mobile devices are now surpassing webmail and desktops. Here are some recent stats from Litmus for March of 2013:

  • 25% of emails were opened through Webmail (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)
  • 32% through Desktop (Outlook, etc.)
  • 43% with Smartphones (iPhone, etc.)

Coding tips for optimizing your emails for mobile are beyond the scope of this post, but there is one easy trick you can implement for all of your emails that will make your mobile opens more effective: take advantage of your preheader!

A preheader is the line or two of text at the very top of your email. When you look at your inbox on your phone, it is the two lines of type that show up right below the email’s subject line. Here are some examples:

When people are triaging their mobile inbox emails and deciding what to open or delete, they often make that determination by looking at: who it is from, what the subject line is, and what the preheader says.

Do you really want to waste the valuable preheader area with information such as:

  • An unsubscribe link
  • Edit preferences link
  • Forward to a friend link
  • Permission reminder
  • A request to “whitelist” the sender (add the sender to the recipient’s address book)

When instead you could use this space to give your reader another enticing reason to open your email. Some numbers to consider…  You have about:

  • 25 Characters for your From Name
  • 35 Characters for your Subject Line
  • 85 Characters for your Preheader

Are you making the most of every character in your emails?

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters | Comments Off

Can Your Email Find Love the 2nd Time Around?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d share some ideas on how you can get a little more love for your email campaign by giving it a second chance. Let’s say you sent off your email and the results aren’t what you expected. Since you’ve already put your time and effort into crafting your message – maybe it has a great offer or it’s a newsletter with helpful info – any additional opens you can get is a bonus without a lot of effort. Here are two situations where this is worth trying and a couple of techniques to help it work.

Scenario #1:
When you look at your open rates broken down by email provider (please tell me you ARE doing this), you notice that one is pretty far off compared to the others. Example: Hotmail opens = 27%, Gmail = 33% and Yahoo = 12%. In this situation, why not try resending your campaign ONLY to Yahoo email addresses that didn’t open the first time?

Scenario #2:
You’re reviewing the open rate and although your content was relevant and helpful to your customers, your open rates are pretty far-off compared to previous campaigns.

First, let’s consider why people who want your information may not have opened your email. Maybe:

  • The subject line didn’t appeal to them so they never opened it.
  • They were on vacation and yours was included in the bulk delete they did upon their return.
  • They saw it come in and intended to open it but it got buried before they remembered.
  • It got delivered to their spam folder and they never saw it.

These are people who may be interested in a second opportunity to see your message so why not try resending to those that didn’t open.

But before you hit the send button for the second time, you first need to make some changes. Begin by changing your subject line. You might try:

  • Adding personalization if you didn’t use it the first time.
  • Use a different hook / highlight a different feature.
  • Take a reminder approach: “In case you missed this – “

Next, target a different time to send your message:

  • Change the time of day
  • Change the day of the week

And finally, select you recipients. Using your analytics from your last email, create a database of people who didn’t open it. To be cautious, I would revise this list to include those people who didn’t open this email, but have opened previous emails from you.

Wait a week or so since your original email (or whatever your analytics define as the drop-off point for your opens) and then resend.

A few words of caution… if you have a bad email reputation or you are filling up your customers’ inboxes with info they don’t want, sending an email a second time around is going to make your spam complaints skyrocket. This technique is best used cautiously and when you have a special message that warrants a second chance or you’ve identified an issue with a specific email provider.

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Nothing Says Christmas Like an Overstuffed Inbox

Your inbox is about to get a whole lot busier. Remember the seasonal golf store in the mall that you bought a gift from last December? Chances are you haven’t heard from them all year but right now they are re-opening and it is just a matter of time before you start getting their weekly emails.

Or what about the big box stores? They’ve been tracking your purchases all year long so they can practically put together your wish list for you – to be arriving in your inbox soon.
So what’s a dealer to do who simply wants to get their newsletter or sales email opened during this busy season? Here are three ideas to keep your email marketing off the naughty list.

Christmas Count Down
What Counts recently published a study of last year’s holiday email marketing ( They noted that holiday email traffic picks up the week before Thanksgiving with the two weeks prior to Christmas being especially busy. So if it all possible, try to get your emails out early in the month, or wait until after Christmas.
They noted that Thursday had the highest open rates last holiday season and also the highest volume. Surprisingly, consumers are opening nearly as much email on Saturdays as they are on Thursdays, but marketers are shipping 60% less email on Saturdays. Consider sending your emails on the weekend if you’re sending close to the holiday.

Less is More
Make sure you are coordinating all of your outgoing email campaigns. While open rates overall decline in December, spam complaints increase. The easiest way to get your customers mad and hitting the spam button is sending too frequently – or sending a fruitcake.
I’ve worked with dealerships where the sales and service managers have no idea what each other is sending out. The last thing you want to do during a busy holiday season is fatigue your database by sending out a sales blast one day and a service offer the very next. An easy solution to this is to simply set up a Google docs calendar and have anyone who does an email campaign post their intended send date on the calendar. Not only does this avoid accidentally hitting your database too frequently, but it gives you a nice visual history of your campaign sends.

Check Your List Twice
Chances are you have people on your email list who haven’t opened an email from you in year or so, if ever. What are the chances that December will be the first time they open one? Not nearly as good as the chances that they’ll finally hit the spam button and get you out of their inbox for good. Why not take a look at your list of inactives and if you’re not willing to pull them off your list permanently, at least consider taking them off the send list for December. You may actually see your inbox placement improve as you demonstrate to the email providers that a higher percentage of your list is engaged, opening and clicking on your emails.

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Stop Sharing Your Automotive Newsletters in Social Media

As I’ve mentioned before, getting great inbox delivery for your automotive newsletters is all about engagement. The email providers are tracking whether people open, read and click on your newsletter or does it go unopened and deleted. Those messages that aren’t opened may very well start getting delivered straight to your customers’ junk folders in the email providers on-going effort to keep only wanted information in the inbox.

But recently Chris Penn, the Director of Inbound Marketing at WhatCounts, did a study that showed posting a link to your newsletter from your social media is actually cannibalizing your open rates. If people read your newsletter through facebook, why do they need to open it and read it in your inbox? Your open rates go down and then your deliverability suffers.

A much better option is to simply post a social media message asking people to check their inboxes for the latest issue, or to sign up if they aren’t on the list. At 1to1 News, we can automatically generate this post for you as part of sending your newsletter.

To read Chris’s full article, click here

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