Effectively communicating with your online customers via email is extremely important. The battle of the inbox is a tough one to begin with, and if you are fortunate enough to get your email opened it needs to be awesome or it gets deleted. People don’t flag spam and they don’t reply to blah blah blah.
The DNA of an awesome email is a mixture of personalization, relevancy and congruency. It should be personalized because that’s a “person” on the other end. Relevant to be, well, relevant. Your email should be congruent in that it makes sense as a component of an ongoing conversation, or has a place in a story line.
Take a few minutes and browse through ten emails in your CRM that have gone out to customers. This is safest while sitting down. It might not be pretty but the good news is you can make it better. In fact, you too can send awesome emails.
1. Burn your templates. In 2006, I witnessed a template burning and it was pretty cool. We printed out all of our templates, put them in a trashcan, took it outside and set ‘em on fire. Why? They didn’t work. What you are calling a template is spam. A template, according to Dictionary.com, is a preset format for a document or file, used so that the format does not have to be recreated each time it’s used. Think of a template as a piece of stationary, not as a message. Your canned emails that go out on day whatever to whoever is a waste of cyberspace and your customers time. Please stop.
2. Use personalized subject lines. Your customer is going to skim their inbox looking through the clutter for something that catches their attention, either the sender or the subject line. Nothing will catch their eye like their name. One of the best subject lines is simply “Hi John, its Ashley at BDC Motors”. This subject line has a great open rate. We recently tested it and had a 62% open rate, not bad for something so simple. By the way, the number one open rate for a subject line in that study…Happy Birthday. How personal is that!
3. Type like you talk. David Kain says type like you talk and talk like a fifth grader. Good advice. I recommend thinking about what you would say to this person, in person. Would you say we have an exceptional selection of quality pre-owned vehicles or would you say we have a lot of nice used cars? Avoid the “ten dollar words”. You’ll find customers are more likely to respond when you are having a conversation than when you are speaking ad speak.
4. Be Relevant. For heavens sake think about what you are saying. Relevancy starts with reading their comments, identifying whether or not they are already your customer and if they are local or live some distance away. Inviting someone to stop by for a test drive when they live 90 miles away isn’t going to work. It probably hurts you. Talking to someone who has bought from you before like you just met is the same as saying “I have salesheimers”.
5. Be congruent. I know I said don’t use ten dollar words and here I am talking about congruency. What I mean is your emails should have a pattern, and be in a logical sequence with the last email you sent them. For example, if the last email you sent a customer contained valuable information they requested, the next email shouldn’t be about the big sale, checking out your specials, browsing your inventory or liking you on Facebook. A better message would be “did you have a chance to review the information or did I send you everything you need?” One BDC Manager I know sends a price quote on day one, asks for a trade-in on day two and offers finance options with a down payment/payment matrix on day three. Very congruent and it works. Which is in congruence with selling more cars.
6. Be brief. People are reading your emails on their smart phone or another mobile device. Use short paragraphs in your emails; be twitter-like. Leave some wiggle room around your CTA’s and your phone number to make it easy for readers to click if they are on a mobile device. If you practice “type like you talk” this will be easy.
7. Test your formats. Again, people are reading your email on their mobile device. Test your stationary and see how it looks on mobile devices. A good idea is to format your emails in a table. This will usually center the email on any type of screen and makes it look crisp, uniform and professional. The email can be personal and professional.
8. Ask questions. If you don’t ask a question technically speaking they can’t respond! Questions evoke responses. Questions motivate customers to reply. A question begs to be answered; it’s human nature. Try one of these; should I be looking for a different car? Was the information I sent yesterday helpful?
9. Describe your process. Let customers know your process. What the next step is and how easy you are to do business with. Since you want to be brief, consider a link to a landing page with more information about your process. How about a link to a video explaining your process, or your priority appointment, your pre-approval process or trade-in evaluation process? Talk about something other than price. If not, the cheapest dealer will win the sale.
10. Create chemistry, not conflict. The tone of your emails is as important as any other element in its DNA make-up. If you are truly trying to be helpful it will come through. Be the dealer that can, not the one that can’t. Your customer should feel like they are being served, not sold. The paradox is that they are being sold – on your great service.