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The Three W’s of Email Targeting

Man writing emails
Article Highlights:

  • Identify Who, What, and When for optimal email targeting.
  • "...build personalized emails unique to each individual."

In my previous two articles we covered best practices to help ensure your messages reach the recipient and how to increase the likelihood the recipient will read them.

Equally important though is making sure you have the correct target in the first place. If you send an email to the wrong target audience, the detailed front lines and message you worked on will be for nothing! Let’s look at three main questions you should answer to determine your email target:

1) Who are you targeting?

Remember, you have two types of customers: those you have already sold to and those you haven’t sold to yet. It’s important to use different approaches when emailing these two types.

For customers you HAVE sold to:

To get existing customers back into your dealership, build on the relationship you’ve already established. If you have a customer relationship management solution, use the customer’s information to build personalized emails unique to each individual.

Remember the “less is more” approach. Don’t bombard existing customers with a high volume of emails. Keep email messages relevant and concise.

For customers you HAVE NOT yet sold to:

This situation presents a great opportunity to create new relationships. A walk-in who visits your dealership and speaks with a sales consultant should receive a follow up email from the same sales consultant. This should be the same practice for phone ups as well.

When a prospect sends in an Internet lead, dealerships usually respond with a very generic, cookie-cutter answer. Not surprisingly, these prospects are reluctant to respond back and usually move on to the next dealership on their list. To prevent this from happening, answer the prospect’s initial questions the first time, ask relevant follow up questions, and offer alternatives.

2) What should your message be?

A message to a service customer should reference the service rendered, the advisor, and your appreciation for the business—all above the fold. Links to social and review sites for feedback opportunities are helpful, but keep the email short and concise.

A client who purchased from you within the last year or two needs a different message from a client who bought three, four, or five years ago.

3) When is the best time to send your email message?

If an existing customer or prospect reaches out, it is important you respond quickly.  For Internet leads and service customers, it’s sometimes appropriate to send multiple emails per day for the first few days.

However, you should take the opposite approach for customers or prospects you know aren’t in market. Sending multiple emails daily to a service repair order customer may cause legal problems and discourage the customer from returning.

Keep in mind, customers and prospects are more likely to read timely messages.


Many dealership employees view sending emails as a necessary evil rather than the possibility of an opportunity. Before pushing send, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the recipient correct?
  • Is the message relevant?
  • Is the timing right?

Send emails you would take the time to open yourself if you were the recipient.

Each email you send should have specific targets, customized to fit the needs of your different clients.  Above all, keep each message relevant and to the point. Finding the right balance between Who, What, and When will help maximize the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Call Reynolds Consulting Services at 800.657.9784 to receive customized training on dealership communication practices for phone, in-person, and email.

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Reynolds Consulting Services

Matt Clark joined the Reynolds Consulting Services team in 2004. He is accomplished in eCommerce, internet, CRM, sales process, and digital marketing consulting. He has over 25 years of automotive experience, including positions as General Sales Manager, BDC Manager, Internet Manager, and Sales Professional.


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