The last time you bought something, you likely handed over your email address. One of my greatest annoyances is unsubscribing from these same lists shortly after since they have no value for me. Even when I purposely sign up for a newsletter, I often swipe left on my iPhone email to delete them before I even open them. 

Delivery timing and past experiences with a newsletter determine readability. Sure, I needed Hurley to keep me updated on my board shorts order but past that… I’m not interested. (Though thanks to JJF, the brand stays in front of me often). 

My Problem with Automotive CRM and Email Marketing

I have a bit of experience working with marketing vendors in the automotive niche. Most vendors tout archaic systems strapped with shiny new technology on top. The proliferation of lead providers alone represents the staggering proof of the industry’s ground-level failures. 

Month after month we check marketing disclosures and never ask if what we are sending is contextual. No one bothered to ask how much our email list was growing or if our subscribers were even showing up or replying because of something we sent. I just couldn’t do it again.

Your Problem is Just Like Mine

Automotive email lists are governed by CRM systems, which are not capable of automated contextual communication adjustments. Dealers only know when the car was purchased and when it was last serviced. Furthermore, those dates are often wrong and/or can’t be changed by other data inputs. 

I’ve pondered what a good CRM system would look like for automotive, and that’s a massive project because it has to have deep connections into consumer privacy and delivery types (cash, purchase, lease, and eventually subscription models). On top of that, it has to account for vehicle servicing variables and relationships. 

CRM Doesn’t Equal Email

Since the perfect CRM doesn’t exist, we looked at integrating with 3rd party APIs (application program interface). But with most automotive technology systems, there’s either no API or a closed API. This caused us all kinds of pain, and literal months of me wondering if there were better options. 

I believe Tesla’s advantage over other brands is that no data point is siloed. They collect real-time driving information and behavior, and feed that to their product engineers to provide insight. I imagine that same information guides their limited marketing needs, too, as well as how their cars are sold and delivered, because communications are timely and necessary. 

Our Experiment

We are taking a break from what we’ve done for the last decade and jumping into the fresh cold water of bringing it in house. To start we will be taking a sample of 55000 contacts and seeing who is truly engaged with our dealership, or who is just sending us to spam. I’ll report back on the results. 

If you don’t care to check in on the results, the takeaway here is that businesses have a choice in how we communicate, and our customers will finally have more choices than subscribe or unsubscribe.

Leave a Comment