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Top automobile dealers in the nation will tell you that e-mail marketing is a vital and cost-effective method of communicating with nternet-savvy prospect. At Courtesy Chevrolet we have the results to prove it.
We have learned to leverage the marketing power of the Internet to dominate our region, and in a short time we’ve increased our sales by 380 vehicles per month while decreasing our cost per unit sold. As with any new dealership process involving technology, there are always obstacles. With the increase in popularity in the use of the Internet by consumers, came an infl ux of undesirable junk e-mail. Recent reports indicate that spam accounts for over half of all e-mail traffi c, and an abundance of e-mail fi ltering devices are springing up everywhere, from the desktop to the Internet Service Provider (ISP), to combat it. The problem is that a large portion of legitimate, permission-based e-mail messages are erroneously blocked by these anti-spam fi lters, a number that continues to steadily increase.
E-mail communication is critical for today’s auto dealer, so anything that disrupts this channel is a hazard to the success of your business. Whether you are new to digital marketing, or an expert at managing your database, the following best practices will increase the odds that your e-mail campaigns will successfully reach your customers.
1. Identify and Understand ISP Filtering Rules
Many of the larger, more common ISPs are installing anti-spam filters to identify and block spam before it is passed to their clients. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! and others all have
their own customized rules for defining and weeding out spam. The big ISPs have routers for their e-mail domains that analyze and streamline all incoming e-mails. It is important to understand that certain trigger words and phrases can cause legitimate email to be fl agged as spam. A small sampling of such words is:
Free, Guaranteed, Savings, Discount, Cash Bonus, $$$$, while supplies last, Special Promotion, money back, and Savings. Be sure to thoroughly research these word lists and other filter triggers.
2. Maintain Good Relations with ISPs
It is critical that your dealership and e-mail provider have a “good e-mail reputation” with the ISPs. When complaints have been lodged about your e-mails, routers can automatically block your e-mail servers, resulting in a “blacklist” classifi cation. Once your servers have been blacklisted, you will be unable to deliver and process your legitimate e-mail. Any dealer that has mistakenly been put on an ISP blacklist knows how burdensome it is to get off. It is imperative for both your dealership and your e-mail provider to remain in good standing with ISPs.
3. “Blacklist” Defense
If you suspect that your dealership may already be on a blacklist, simply go to www.openrbl.org and type in your domain name. The site will do a quick check against its database of major blacklists, and within seconds will be able to tell you which, if any, of the blacklists your Web site(s) are on. Another useful resource that will allow you to check your status on blacklists can be found at www.senderbase.org. If you find yourself blacklisted, visit the Web site of the blacklist and look for removal procedures. Some blacklists have procedures for removal, while other lists are permanent.
4. Seeding (Testing) E-mails
It’s important to continuously monitor and test the integrity of your e-mails. Open accounts with all the main ISPs and test your campaigns to make sure your mailings are optimized to prevent fi ltering. Check your CRM tool search function to determine what e-mail domains are being used by your customers.
5. HTML vs. Plain Text E-mails
Send Both Due to the high threat of malicious e-mailborn viruses, most major ISPs no longer automatically load HTML graphics, and these e-mails tend to be deleted more frequently than plain text e-mails. Offer your customer an optional text-based version of your HTML media, and offer your readers a choice of which format they wish to receive. Find a technology partner that believes in the benefit of sending messages in both formats.
6. Be CAN-SPAM Compliant
With new legislation in place, dealers need to pay close attention to bulk e-mail practices. Failure to comply with CAN-SPAM can result in criminal and civil penalties. Read up on this Act in more detail and review your dealership’s e-mail policies.
At Courtesy Chevrolet we believe that the Internet is one of the most powerful tools available to our staff, and that the integrity of our e-mail marketing is critical to the future success of our dealership. The fact is that spam is here to stay, and the plethora of filters in place will continue to be necessitated. At Courtesy Chevrolet, we continually monitor and research spam fi lters to discover new avenues and methods to obtain a higher penetration of e-mail deliverability. We work with our e-mail provider, using their best practice guidelines to obtain the high marketing standards set by our dealership. With the right technology, the right tools and the right processes in place, we are able to optimize navigation past anti-spam filters and ensure the overall success of our e-mail marketing campaigns.
Ralph Paglia is the CRM/eBusiness director at Courtesy Chevrolet. He can be contacted at 505.301.6369, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RalphPaglia No. 1 eDealer: Courtesy Chevrolet Shares Success on How to Get E-Mails Delivered Through Spam Filters