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Email marketing can be a game-changer for car dealerships looking to boost sales. With the right email strategy and email marketing tool, you can keep customers engaged, drive more visits to your dealership, and increase repeat business. 

In this article, we’ll explore 11 powerful email marketing tips tailored specifically for car dealers to help you 3x your business. 

Whether you want to improve showroom traffic, sell more used inventory, or boost service department revenue, these best practices will set you on the path to email success.

Benefits of Email Marketing for Car Dealerships

Email marketing delivers outstanding returns for car dealerships of all types. On average, email generates $40 in revenue for every $1 spent, which is a 4000% return on investment. Beyond impressive ROI, effective email campaigns provide numerous other benefits.

  • Keep customers engaged during all stages of ownership leading to increased loyalty and repeat business. 
  • Drive more foot traffic to showrooms to boost new and used car sales. 
  • Promote service specials to increase bookings and revenue in the service department. 
  • Establish your brand as an authority in the community and industry. 
  • Retain contact info for customers to nurture long-term relationships.

With numbers like these, prioritizing email in your marketing mix is a no-brainer. The effort pays dividends in the form of dramatically increased profits over time.

1. Collect Emails Throughout the Customer Journey

The first step in implementing a stellar email strategy is to collect emails from guests and customers. Focus on capturing email addresses at multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

When a visitor walks onto your dealership lot, have iPad sign-in forms ready to grab their information right away. Offer valuable lead magnets like coupon codes and financing specials in exchange for their contact data. 

Capture emails from incoming leads calling about a specific vehicle right over the phone using lead management technology. Equip your sales reps with mobile apps to enter buyer data immediately after test drives. Finally, have finance managers add email opt-ins into the paperwork process at the time of purchase.

The more interactions you use to grow your email list organically, the larger and more engaged your subscriber base will become over time. This produces higher quality leads when you segment and target later on. With a customer’s permission and the right tools, collecting emails can happen seamlessly behind the scenes at every step.

2. Segment Your Email Lists

Once you’ve built up a sizable email subscriber list, resist the urge to blast out mass emails to everyone. Instead, take the time to segment your lists based on meaningful categories relevant to your dealership.

Divide contacts by parameters like location, vehicle preferences, budget, owner status, and recent service visits. Create groups such as “In-market Sedan Shoppers”, “Luxury SUV Owners”, “Service Customers” and “Special Event Attendees”. Segmentation allows you to deliver hyper-targeted, personalized messaging to different audiences.

When you segment thoroughly, your emails seem more tailored and valuable to each recipient. This builds engagement and response rates over generic blasts. Regularly refresh your segments too as customers move through the ownership lifecycle. Adjusting groups based on evolving interests keeps your messaging pertinent.

3. Send Personalized/Relevant Content

Now that you’ve divided your contacts into segmented lists, it’s time to craft relevant content that speaks directly to each group. Resist the one-message-fits-all approach in favor of personalized outreach.

For example, send newly acquired sedan owners helpful tips on winterizing their vehicles and recommend service specials to prepare for colder months. 

Email in-market SUV shoppers about newly arrived models on your lot that match their preferences along with incentive details. Make special financing offers to previous buyers nearing the end of current loan terms to retain their future business.

Personalized emails demonstrate that you listen to exactly what each customer wants and need. It strengthens the relationship and positions your dealership as the go-to resource for their next vehicle purchase or service need. 

When subscribers feel understood, they reward you with engagement, loyalty, and referrals. This leads to higher conversion rates and revenue for your business. 

4. Promote Current Inventory

One of the most effective email strategies for selling more vehicles is to consistently promote current in-stock inventory to segmented lists. Match subscriber preferences to available models on your lot for targeted promotions.

For example, alert families subscribed to your minivan list when the specific model they test-drove becomes available again. Showcase professional photos of the actual van along with pricing, features, and monthly payment estimates tailored to them. Extend limited-time discounts or value-adds to incentivize a purchase decision.

Promoting current inventory in this personalized, transparent way builds trust and credibility. Subscribers feel prioritized knowing you safeguarded a vehicle just for them. This VIP treatment converts more qualified leads into sales while forging lasting customer bonds. 


Dedicate resources to keeping inventory data updated so you can prompt interested buyers the moment their perfect car arrives.

5. Highlight Service Specials

Don’t overlook the revenue potential within your current customer database. Email is extremely effective for filling service bays by promoting specials to owners.

Segment your lists by vehicle make and model, then target relevant service promotions. For Toyota owners, advertise your dealership as the best place for genuine parts and factory-trained technicians. 

For customers nearing 30,000 miles, notify them of approaching milestones and recommend applicable maintenance packages. You can even cross-sell owners of brand X on competitive trade-in offers toward new vehicles that require less servicing over time.

Email offers convenience and transparency so customers can determine if a promotion fits their needs before visiting in person. Service drives some of the highest profit margins, so filling bays delivers major revenue lifts. 

When owners eventually trade in for new inventory, you cement repeat business through a lifetime of care. Email empowers you to cost-effectively nurture these long-term relationships.

6. Spotlight Lease/Finance Offers

For customers not quite ready to purchase, email presents the ideal medium to remain top-of-mind with ongoing sales outreach. This can significantly increase the click-through rate of your marketing emails. 

Regularly spotlight tempting lease deals or financing promotions to segmented lists based on budget and vehicle type preferences.

For example, showcase a new 0% APR offer on SUVs to subscribers who previously visited your dealership lot. Or send members of your hybrid shoppers group the latest discounted lease terms on models they expressed interest in. Instead of letting other dealerships wear them down first, use email to circle back consistently.

When the time comes for these subscribers to acquire their next vehicle, they will remember your professionalism and return to transact with someone they trust. 

Email allows car dealers to cost-effectively plant seeds and cultivate customer relationships over months or years until purchase conditions align. A little extra effort here pays off exponentially.

7. Share Dealer and Community News

Email also serves as the ideal channel for sharing positive dealership and community news. Spotlight awards, milestone events, new hires, and other human interest stories from your business.

For example, announce expanded service hours, newly acquired technician certifications, charity fundraisers, or family-friendly events happening on your lot. Email press releases detailing major inventory acquisitions of high-demand vehicles secured especially for VIP customers.

When subscribers better understand the people and exciting developments behind your brand, you strengthen trust and affinity. This motivates engagement while showcasing your commitment to the community. People prefer supporting dealers who actively contribute value beyond the initial sale. Therefore, mix product promotions with inspiring brand storytelling.

8. Reward Loyalty

Speaking of going beyond the basics, don’t take long-time customers for granted. It’s easy to focus email efforts strictly on driving new sales. However, neglecting to nurture existing loyalty risks losing repeat business to competitors.

Segment out buyers who have brought you multiple service jobs, referrals, or vehicle purchases over the years. Send surprise-and-delight rewards like star customer badges, loyalty points, and special redemption offers. Extend exclusive invites to VIP-only events for your dealership’s top brand advocates.

The example below is a simple email template that a car dealership might use for a customer loyalty campaign: 


When you make loyal customers feel appreciated, respected and listened to, they eagerly remain in your corner and become influencers to steer their networks your way too. Don’t leave this free goodwill on the table. Email empowers cost-efficient loyalty programs scaled to thousands.

9. Automate Post-Purchase Follow-Ups

Another powerful email strategy is to set up automated post-purchase follow-up sequences. After a customer buys a new or used vehicle, continue nurturing them through a series of helpful onboarding messages.

Thank customers for their business while providing transparent guidance on titling, registration, warranties, and financing obligations. Share links to instructional videos explaining vehicle technologies to enhance knowledge of available features. Send scheduled maintenance 

reminders and service discount offers to foster ongoing relationships.

Post-purchase sequences preserve your integral advisory role in the ownership lifecycle. This prevents communication drop-off that otherwise invites competing dealer touchpoints. Don’t leave the door open for buyer remorse from feeling neglected. The convenience of automated email programs is consistent, friendly outreach into the future journey – not just the transaction.

10. Retarget Website Visitors

Another impactful email strategy focuses on website visitor retargeting efforts. Many dealership website visitors leave without contacting a sales rep or providing their information. Email retargeting re-engages those lost leads by tracking website behavior.

Install cookies on site visitors upon arrival then load their email addresses into customized audiences for future promotions. Send notifications regarding vehicles they configured or read about to reopen sales dialogue. Tailor incentives around the specific model’s site visitors showed interest in but didn’t yet purchase.

Email retargeting essentially gives your website a memory to continue conversations past a single visit. Instead of leads vanishing forever, you use data insights to circle back and restart nurturing sequences. This technique alone can capture, convert, and close up to 10% more fresh sales opportunities hidden in your traffic.

11. Track Email Metrics


The final piece of executing an effective email marketing strategy is tracking performance through actionable metrics and analytics. Monitor essential data like email open rates, click rates, email share rates, unsubscribe rates, sentiment feedback, and revenue attribution.

Review metrics on individual campaigns as well as holistic data trends over longer periods. Continuously refine subject lines, content formatting, image selection, calls-to-action, and optimal send times based on results. Closely monitor competitor email performance for comparative benchmarking too.

Essentially, letting data guide your ongoing optimizations compounds results exponentially over time. You gain priceless visibility into subscriber preferences for increased relevancy. Tracking email analytics leads to greater engagement, higher conversions, larger lists, and ultimately maximum profitability quarter over quarter.

Implementing a strategic email marketing plan delivers unmatched returns for car dealerships seeking to dramatically expand growth. 

As discussed in these 11 tips, focus on capturing subscriber data, segmenting based on preferences, sending hyper-relevant content, promoting inventory/service offers, nurturing current customer loyalty, automating sequences, retargeting lost leads, and relentlessly tracking performance data. 

By diligently applying these email best practices, your dealership can realistically triple key business growth metrics over the coming months. Now is the time to start maximizing results from this versatile digital channel.

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