The Email Follow Up Epidemic
I would like to start out by asking automobile dealers when was the last time that they evaluated the email process and email templates in their CRM systems. Seriously, when was the last time that you actually looked at what is being sent out and when it is being sent out?
As part of an ongoing process of analyzing the automotive industry in an effort to constantly improve I have spent one weekend mystery shopping some local dealers by submitting an email lead. I was shocked by what I have been receiving in my email every single day that I made a decision to properly educate dealers and managers about this major problem. Let’s dive in to some of the problems that I have noticed.
Problem #1: Automated Email Follow Up Message (Content)
It has become a common practice for dealers to send out automated email templates. This is normally scheduled to allow Sales and BDC professionals to focus more on making calls and not typing up emails. I am guilty of having been a fan in the past about setting up an automated email process as an Internet Director and Consultant. However, I have been noticing consumer responses and frustrations to what they are getting. Consumers submit a lead to get information and instead are bombarded with automated emails asking questions that are incompatible with the customer needs.
Solution #1: When settings up email templates in a CRM make sure that each template has an effective message that can be tweaked individually. In other words, while we do not want to spend a lot of time writing out a message we want to be able to delete and add certain parts of conversation in order to personalize the experience. In fact, most CRM systems are making it simpler now more then ever to insert a video into an email. In certain instances sending a video message can go a very long way.
Problem #2: Automated Email Message Delivery (Time Sent)
I have noticed that dealers are making it obvious that emails are automated. As a night owl I noticed email templates being sent out at interesting times such as 12:01 am, 6:05 am and other odd times in between. I even noticed an email from dealership that was sent at 6:01 pm on a Sunday evening from the Internet Director (keep in mind this store is closed on Sundays). I have seen customer responses that showed where they were upset and bothered that an automated template was sent to them. Imagine how difficult it becomes to build rapport and bring them in when that occurs.
Solution # 2: If the dealership must have an automated email follow up in place I suggest that they consider setting up a time that is during normal business hours. The fact is that consumers pick up on these poor practices. They will see the time stamp and realize that it is an automated email template. When I sold cars I used to enjoy following up on leads at odd hours of the night, because I used to send out a personalized message and even answer simple questions. My customers felt that my follow up was effective, because my customers used to be impressed that I was handling their needs late at night while everyone was sleeping. The bottom line is that the only time an email should ever go out during off hours is only if it is getting a personalized response.
Problem # 3: Email Blast Spam
Most modern CRM systems have a tool to measure the likeliness that a message will go to spam. Dealers are not utilizing this feature, because it is so small and easy to forget. There are many factors that can cause an email to be spam. One of the factors of a message being spam includes using font colors that are red or green. Another factor includes putting in too many explanation points. One of the most difficult factors to discuss is the creation of an HTML email template that can generate spam. Let’s not forget the spam policies that are enforced by Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and others. The bottom line is that CRM companies are great at managing a database and follow up processes but are not always great at managing email effectiveness when sending out marketing messages.
Solution # 3: Consider a partnership with a professional email-marketing vendor that offers the right digital marketing tools in order to manage a database that combines both the CRM and DMS. There are email-marketing solutions that provide data mining services by creating effective messages in order to regenerate interest for sales and fixed operations opportunities.
Problem # 4: Mobile & Tablet Formatting
In April 2014 Litmus Email Analytics has reported that 48% of email is opened on a mobile device. It is interesting to see the unformatted emails that come through to mobile devices. These are usually long messages or a graphic that when clicked will go the dealership website. The problem is that most CRM systems do not educate internet or marketing managers how to properly format an email so that it looks proper on a mobile device, a tablet and a desktop computer. Consumers using mobile devices are even quicker to send an email to trash or avoid it just because they do not want to be bothered with hassle of scrolling to read a message.
Solution # 4: Study the CRM system. Study the email part of the tool. Consider learning about email marketing from various resources that are not just in the automotive industry but other major companies. If creating a proper template is difficult start to utilize all of the support that the vendor has to offer.
I invite fellow automotive professionals to mystery shop ten dealerships in their market and evaluate the four problems that have been discussed in this article. I promise that the experience will be both humbling and educational. When these four issues start to get managed the prospect engagement will improve which ultimately means more traffic and more business.
Stan Sher is the founder and president of Dealer eTraining, an automotive sales training and consulting company focused on internet, BDC and showroom sales operations. Stan is a millennial himself with over 11 years experience in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.