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When it comes to Email Targeting it's about Quality not Quantity.

Melissa Mangold, Virtual Marketing Representative @ ADP
by Melissa Mangold, Virtual Marketing Representative at ADP


You’ve just finalized a great email marketing campaign and can’t wait to share your amazing offers with your customer base. Naturally, you’re inclined to blast the email to every email address in your database for maximum customer reach. After all, the more emails you send, the higher the response rate will be, right? Wrong!

A better way to think of it is this--- the more untargeted email addresses you try to hit, the higher your chances of customers opting out of your email list. And sadly, once customers unsubscribe from your email database, they’re gone forever. Forever! As in, they'll never, ever, receive a message from you at that email address again.

When you blast your full email list, you also run the risk of sending to old, inactive emails; a practice which can send your spam score skyrocketing and your reputation as an email sender plummeting. Before you click “Send To All”, back away from the mouse and let’s reconsider who should be receiving your message in their inbox.


"I just bought a vehicle last month, and now you’re offering it for how much less??!! Ugghh!"

Your dealer advertising isn't the only digital channel that can be highly targeted.  If you sold a vehicle to a customer last month or they just came in for an oil change a week ago, imagine how the newly discounted prices in this week's email campaign will make them feel about their recent purchase or service! No one wants to pay full price, only to see the price slashed the next day. Instead of blasting your email to everyone, consider which customers in your database might be due to upgrade or service their vehicle, and really benefit from the offers you are promoting.

At the very least, be sure to exclude recent service customers from receiving general service offers, and suppress the email addresses of those customers who recently purchased a vehicle from receiving sales campaigns. Depending on the type of campaign you're sending, try targeting your email based on vehicle mileage, vehicle year or the last time the customer purchased/serviced. Reach out to customers that are more likely to be ready to take advantage of your offers. The last thing you want to do is send offers that have no relevance to a customer. If you do, they’ll be more likely to unsubscribe from your email list and you’ll lose that marketing opportunity forever.


Ding, Dong, The Email's Dead

Jobs change. Internet service providers change. And because of this, email addresses change--- and more often than you think. Consider your own email address. Is it the same one you were using 5 years ago? 10 years ago? You’ve probably changed your primary email address a few times since then, and your customers are no different.

So what happens to those old email addresses? Well if your customer hasn’t been in the dealership to update their new email address, their old inbox is sitting in cyberspace filling up with unread email messages--- including yours. Once it’s sat long enough without activity or once it's been disabled, your emails will begin to bounce until the email address is considered dead. If you’re thinking, "Well... no big deal. It's not like it costs anything to send a message to a dead email address," you’re not exactly right. It could be costing you your sender reputation.


Spam: It’s Not Just Meat In A Can

Email Spam

Spam scores were developed to help email providers protect their customers’ inboxes from unsolicited emails. The higher the spam score, the less likely the sender will be treated by email service providers as a trustworthy source. The validity of email addresses the sender is attempting to reach weighs heavily on spam scoring. In other words--- the more dead emails you send to, the more bounces you get, and the higher your spam score rises. The higher your spam score, the harder it will be to get your messages to pass through email filters and land in your customers' inboxes.Lately, email providers have become much more stringent when it comes to which senders make it through their spam filters. With more and more senders being blacklisted altogether from certain providers, the sanctity of a sender reputation is more important than ever.

A good way to help protect yourself in the spam battle is to appropriately target your campaign list to a relevant audience, and let the old email addresses go.Here's a good rule of thumb to help you protect your sender reputation... when targeting your emails, go back no further than sales customers from the last 5 years, service customers from the last 2 years and prospects from the last 6 months. These are the customers who are not only more likely to still be using the email address that you have on record as a their primary email address, but are also more likely to be responsive and engaged.


Quality Over Quantity

The ultimate defense against high spam scores and the dreaded unsubscriber is targeted email messaging. Show your customers value by sending messages that are relevant to their stage in the vehicle ownership cycle. Not only will your email response rates improve, but so will your customer relationships.In what ways have you segmented your customer database when targeting email campaigns? Has it impacted your response rates?


About the Author

Melissa Mangold is a VMR (Virtual Marketing Representative) at ADP, optimizing dealer email & direct mail marketing efforts by analyzing their ROI results, monitoring current industry best practices and gauging current business needs. Her first car was a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and together they ruled the road (and off-road!). When Melissa is not optimizing dealer marketing campaigns, she is a social media editor for an online magazine. She has a B.A. in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Post-baccalaureate certificate in Advertising for Creatives from Northwestern University. Melissa can be reached directly at

Learn more about ADP's team of automotive marketing specialists.

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Tags: dealer, email, list, marketing, newsletter, not, reputation, sender, spamming, target


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Join Automotive Digital Marketing

Comment by Alexander Lau on September 5, 2014 at 8:55am

Email sequence contact strategy template
Use this spreadsheet to define triggered email sequences

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 10, 2013 at 1:06pm

Not if they're using your websites (landing page conversion) for E-mail blast links and they're down.

Cobalt dealership Web sites disrupted by traffic deluge

Many auto dealerships that use digital marketing vendor Cobalt to power their Web sites -- including General Motors' dealer network in the United States -- had their service disrupted today by a deluge in Web traffic. Cobalt is "addressing this issue with the highest priority," said Chris Reed, Cobalt vice president, in a statement.


WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF BEING TOO BIG FOR YOUR BRITCHES! ADP buyout should make you run for the hills. OEM compliance my @ss. I wonder how much you've lost using Cobalt as your website provider. 

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