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The 5 Essential Marketing Automations Strategies for your Car Dealership

Lockdown restrictions, related to the pandemic, have accelerated the digitalization of industries, including the automotive sector. Car sales are highly correlated with car searches online. For automotive e-commerce related searches, the end of 2020 had the highest interest level ever across most E-5 markets (Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain). Search queries for buying a car online exceeded the 2019 levels considerably and have shown great momentum: 26 percent in Germany, 82 percent in the UK, and 39 percent in France. According to Michael Complojer, industry manager within Google’s automotive group almost 60 percent of potential car buyers under 45 prefer to purchase their vehicle online even after the reopening of the dealerships. So the automotive industry is undoubtedly facing an omnichannel retail transformation and Marketing Automation with the right thought out strategies can play a crucial role.


Challenges faced by the Dealerships

The biggest asset of any car dealership is its customer database. Having recognized this fact many dealerships have recently invested in customer relationship management (CRM) software. The purpose of a CRM is to provide sales with a software to gather all existing and potential customer data, to facilitate the efficient management of the sales team and the accurate forecasting. Despite this investment most dealerships are facing serious challenges.

According to Christian Richter, Google’s global automotive director there are about 900 digital touchpoints during the car-buying journey, that reach across websites, digital advertising, and CRM softwares that touch call centers that touch systems that are built into the physical dealership. All these data points need to be connected. Unfortunately in most cases they are not.


Departments working in Silos

The main reason for unconnected digital touchpoints is the fact that different departments – sales, marketing, finance, customer service – work in silos. The lack of collaboration, information sharing between them results in duplication of efforts, waste of resources and in worst cases failed decisions and opportunities.


Lack of Integration

Marketing focuses on lead generation. The lead is then passed to sales who does its best to close the deal and if all goes well the lead becomes a customer. Customer anagraphic data then gets transferred to finance and to customer services. But what happens to all the behavioural data? Every data gathered during the different digital touchpoints about the customer remains in a separate database. The different departments use different technologies which don’t communicate with each other and consequently the dealership will always lack a 360 degrees vision of the customer.


Lack of Automation

But why is a 360 degrees customer view important to any business? Today customers are exposed to too much information and too many offers. Irrelevant, impersonal communication becomes a nuisance for us. We want brands to understand our needs and to offer us highly personalized offers. For instance if I am interested in buying a small electric car I don’t want you to waste my time with offers about a 2.5 liter engine SUV. In fact, according to an extensive report by ForbesInsights two in five executives report their customer personalization efforts have directly affected sales and profits in direct-to-consumer channels such as e-commerce. For leading companies, the returns are even more substantial. Fifty-four percent report that they exceeded their revenue targets over the past year.

To send these personalized messages automatically car dealers need a marketing automation tool. But what is a marketing automation tool and what benefits does it offer to a dealership?

A marketing automation software enables marketing professionals to automate campaigns and activities throughout the entire buyer journey. It helps them free up time spent on repetitive day-to-day tasks and allows them to spend more time on the creative content and strategy. Once the team agrees the right strategy and designs the most efficient workflows, the software will automatically send the messages to the contacts, through the right channel, at the right time, selected by the set criteria.

What can it do for your business? It can certainly never replace a good sales person, but it can become the best sales and marketing assistant of the dealership, working 24/7, capable of lead generation, lead validation and forwarding to the right sales executive, lead nurturing, customer retention and loyalty. So is it enough to buy a good software, install it, press a button and wait for the results? Unfortunately, it is not a magic wand, but let me share with you some good practices and strategies so it can revolutionize your business too.


First step: Make a plan and create your database from all sources

Even the best tools are useless without the right plan. Marketing needs to be aligned with the strategic goals. If there are several goals to achieve it is important to implement them in the right order. Once the goals are clear you need to integrate your customer data from all sources. When it is all done you are ready to design your first automated workflows and start your campaigns. Which ones should they be?


The 5 most Effective Marketing Automation Campaigns for your Dealership


  1. Welcome mails

The first marketing automation strategy our specialist advises our clients is the welcome campaign, as they are simple to implement, on the other hand they are extremely efficient. Welcome emails have an average open rate of 30.69%, that is 70% higher than a usual email campaign.

2.  Periodic follow-up mails

You, the sales or marketing manager of a dealership, think every day of your brand but your clients don’t. They are targeted or distracted by hundreds of other brands, messages and offers every day. Sending them regular emails reminds them of your business and helps you to be considered as an industry leader, a brand to trust. In fact, customers marketed through emails spend 138% more than people who do not receive any.

3. Cross-sell / Up-sell

It is much harder selling to a new customer than to an existing one, therefore cross sell and up sell is a great way for businesses to increase their revenue and profitability. When you recommend products to your customers through cross-sell campaigns, you can see as much as a 20% revenue increase.

4. Personalized offers

Advanced marketing automation tools allow you to dynamically segment your database based on anagraphic or behavioural criteria. You can create dedicated campaigns for potential customers interested in a specific car model or brand.

5. Automated maintenance reminders 

Revenues from maintenance and repair can be an excellent recurring revenue stream for dealerships. You can create automated workflows for reminders and send personalized emails/SMS/WhatsApp messages to customers whose servicing date is approaching.



The five strategies described above are just the tip of the iceberg. Marketing automation can do much more for a dealership. You can assign scores to different web content on your site and sales leads can be prioritized based on the scores, or distributed to dedicated sales executives. One can also understand from the scores how hot the sales lead is, since every new visit and interaction with a car configuration tool, for instance, will generate higher scores.

It is important to select the right marketing automation software, with good technical assistance, GDPR compliance and strategic support. Marketing automation is not a magic wand but a great tool that will make miracles for your dealership when designed well, coupled with the right strategy and execution.

Talk to our expert to find out more about the benefits a marketing automation tool can bring to your business.

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Zsuzsanna Csuthi
Head of Sales and Marketing Zsuzsanna Csuthi is Head of Sales and Marketing, overseeing strategic development, global sales and marketing for the company. Zsuzsanna joined AI6 in September 2019 as Head of Strategic Development, and previously held international sales management positions at multinational companies like General Electric, Axis Communications and Motorola Solutions.

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