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E-newsletters that turn readers into customers

By Lauren McLean

At Dealer Spike Marine, we’ve covered the importance of email marketing many times – for example, here and here. But let’s also recognize the fact that many emails go unopened. People have become accustomed to receiving spam almost as often as regular emails. This makes the inbox less a resource of important, timely information and more like a random grab bag where readers don’t know what they’re going to get.

But there are ways to promote your dealership through email that both gain readership and successfully encourage readers to turn into buyers. Designing emails that are both engaging and effective can be a challenge, but without the extra effort you may be eliminating many potential sales. Email marketing can do wonders for growing and maintaining your customer base, and its effectiveness only appears to be growing stronger as technology allows for more improvements in tracking customer data.

Here are three best practice tips for getting more out of your efforts in email marketing.

Make it personal

While sending the same, automated email out to your entire contact list may be the most convenient option, it’s not the way to achieve sales. Today’s consumers are sharp. They can tell if the email they’re receiving is the exact same one that all your other customers and prospects are getting – whether they are a loyal customer who purchases from you every year or a lazy prospect who isn’t interested in buying but hasn’t unsubscribed from your emails yet.

Consumers don’t typically expect to receive a non-mass email from a retailer, so when an e-newsletter shows up in their inbox that is both personalized and specific to the purchase they made or the promotion they showed interest in, that garners their attention. Establishing that connection makes your email a worthy piece of reading in the minds of your customers.

Needless to say, this requires a bit more effort in the collection and organization of your email address contact list. At the bare minimum, there should be a separation between those who have bought from you before and those who haven’t yet made a purchase. Even better, organize email contacts from lead forms based on information you can gain from them, such as manufacturer or unit type the prospect was interested in. There are various ways to accomplish this type of organization that don’t require tedious manual labor – a well-chosen CRM system should have this functionality.

Be the go-to for all your customer’s or prospect’s boating needs

You also have an opportunity through email marketing to show consumers how credible your dealership is in the industry. This can help convince them to buy AND discourage them from going to a competitor. Price is not the No. 1 factor in a consumer’s decision-making process; experience is. Enhance the experience and interaction that consumers have with your business by demonstrating helpful knowledge.

Examples: How-to maintenance guides (bonus if they are specific to the consumer’s purchased unit), or links to news stories that relate to the boating lifestyle.

Don’t make your email recipients do any work

Place “learn more” and other call-to-action buttons within your emails that bring the reader directly to the place on your website that matches their want or need. Keep things simple and straightforward – the worst thing you could do is pique the interest of someone but fail to provide a quick and easy way for that prospect to submit a lead.

Don’t expect people to be patient – assume that if it doesn’t take less than 30 seconds for your reader to find, complete, and submit a lead, they won’t do it. The simpler you make it, the more conversions you’ll see.

Lauren McLean is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit www.DealerSpikeMarine.com or call 800-288-5917.

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