In my last article, I mentioned how a lot of auto repair shops overlook email as a really powerful marketing strategy.
Though it's not new or the latest marketing fad, it really works. To get started, you only need a subscription to any one of the auto responder provider services. Subscriptions typically start at about $20 a month.
What's powerful about these service providers is that their systems let you pre-program a sequence of messages that are automatically sent to your subscribers. There is no better, more cost-efficient way to stay in touch with prospects who have an interest in what you're doing and even current customers.
However, before you jump into email marketing, consider the following. These are the best three tips to help you make your campaign successful:
c Speak to one person – Write your email messages as if you were writing to one person, not a group. Nobody wants to open a message that starts out with "Hi everybody!"
A great way to help you keep things a little more personal is to actually picture the person you're writing to. Think of one of your best customers and write your email messages as if you were writing to that one person. You'll see that it makes a difference.
c Use strong subject lines – If we were talking about advertising, it would be the headline of your ad. In an email, it's your subject line. That subject line is what's going to get your message opened or deleted.
When you think about it, you do the same. You view your inbox and scan the list of messages. Of course, there's the "from" column followed by the subject line. In most cases, you probably decide on whether you're going to read or open the message based on that one line.
Making simple adjustments can make a huge improvement on your open- and read-rates. As an example, which is more appealing to you? A subject that states: "Here's Your Next Issue of ABC Garage Newsletter," or one that reads "Here's 7 Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy?" You can even add more curiosity to the subject when you use the word "these." It just makes it that much more specific. As an example, change the second line to read, "Use These 7 Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy."
Like headlines for advertising, creating subject lines may not be the easiest part of an email message, but without doubt, it's the most important part—well, only if you want your message read!
c Use personalization tactics – Today's auto responder services make it easy to include your subscribers' names in various parts of the message, including the subject line. Now, my first caution is be sure you don't overdo it. But at the very least, it's a lot more welcoming to start your message with a subscriber's name.
In addition, most studies show that when you personalize the subject line, you can increase the open rates of your messages. So using our last subject line example, you could change it to read something like: "Susan, Use These 7 Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy." Of course, that's assuming that "Susan" is the first name of your subscriber.
Also, understand that if you collect more information on your registration form, you can use that within your message. Adding simple things like the make and model of the subscriber's vehicle makes your message feel a lot less like advertising, because you're talking to them about their car.
It's all pretty simple to do from inside the control panel of most auto responder services. But what I like best about using email marketing is that it's truly a "set-it-and-forget-it" system. It just keeps working and working for you long after you've invested a little time.
Matthew Lee, is an automotive service marketing specialist and author of the book, "The Official Guide to Auto Service Marketing," which offers "no-cost" and "low-cost" marketing strategies for auto service businesses. For a free copy of the book, visit www.JustTheBestMarketing.com.