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Email Marketing

If you fail to keep in touch with your customers, you risk losing your customers. One great way to maintain those customer relationships is through email marketing. If you haven’t tried reaching out through email or you think the effort simply isn’t worth it, think again. For a relatively small amount of money, email marketing allows you to test a variety of offers and stay top of mind with your customers.

Here’s a quick look at what’s involved in employing email marketing and how to get started:

Building a database: There are a variety of ways to collect email addresses from customers. At our shops, we ask our customers provide an email address when we are inputting all of their personal information, so we can easily send documentation of our work – either through digital photos or invoices for repairs. We actually obtain email addresses from about 60 percent of the individuals we ask, because we promise not to sell their information and many see value in receiving information electronically.  We also make it goal for our managers and front desk personnel to collect emails from customers.

Another option is to leave a space for email addresses on your comment cards.  Or, if you’re really starting from scratch, you can pay an email marketing firm to locate email addresses for your existing customer database by comparing that information against other databases. Most will charge you a fee for every match they find. It’s not the cheapest route, but it will allow you to build a list quickly. 

Choosing a service: There are myriad of email marketing services in the market and each has its own set of bells and whistles. Determining which one is best for you may depend on how much you want to spend and how hands-on you plan to be with your email marketing campaigns. If you would like to design your own emails, distribute them yourself and update your own mailing lists, then I suggest choosing a user-friendly service with great technical support. However, if you’d like to leave the heavy lifting to someone else, it might be wise to select a service that provides more automation. It may cost more, but the trade off is that you’ll save time.

Making it work:  Once you have your system in place and mailing lists established, think carefully about the messages you want to send. Coupons for discounted services are always good because they offer customers an incentive to continue their relationship with you. Instead of tying it to a specific service, we provide a percentage off of any service of a certain price. An offer with a short-time frame is worth considering because it compels people to act quickly. Maintenance reminders can also prove valuable to customers.

 

No matter how compelling your emails are, don’t make the mistake of flooding your customers’ inboxes with email. I know if I receive emails from a business too often (say every few days or even daily), I tune them out and eventually unsubscribe from their mailings. Don’t be that business. I recommend sending out emails about once a month (in addition to scheduled maintenance reminders). That level of frequency should keep you on the minds of your customers, without alienating them.

Be realistic: Sending offers through email is great, but it’s not going to cause a barrage of business. Instead, I think of it as a great way to keep your existing customers aware of your business. To attract new customers, you still need to utilize other marketing tools, such as direct mail. Remember, every customer is different and likes to be communicated with in a different way.

Greg Sands is the CEO and founder of Mudlick Mail in Acworth, GA. The company provides demographically targeted, direct mail programs for automotive service and repair shops nationally. An 18-year veteran of the automotive industry, Greg also owns and operates more than 25 repair shops in four states. Follow Mudlick Mail on Facebook: /www.facebook.com/mudlickmail or Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/mudlickmail


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