Email Marketing Makeover

By Chris Damico

Don’t just slap lipstick on it — give your email marketing a complete makeover for 2018. You’ll be happy you did! With more than 2.4 million emails sent every second, you need to use smart email strategy to help your marketing stand out. In the end, it’ll get you more interaction, deliver more leads, and drive more sales with current customers and prospects alike.

Divide and conquer audiences

You sell more than one type of outdoor power equipment, which means that you’re attracting more than one type of outdoor power equipment customer. Plus, different types of customers are at different stages in the purchase cycle. You have prospects and new customers that you’re trying to build relationships with and returning customers who you want to keep interested in what you offer. Email allows your customer base to be segmented — or divided — into groups that will receive different messages based on what type of customers they are, or how they respond to your current marketing. Marketers have noted a 760-percent increase in revenue from segmented campaigns (Campaign Monitor).

To start, set up your prospect, new customer and returning customer lists and send a general sale email to all of them. Which contacts were the most likely to open the email? Who clicked the most? The more information you have, the more you can tailor your subsequent emails to find what works best. After that, you can send targeted offers to your audiences to get them to return to your business, or try it for the first time.

Create smarter content

As previously mentioned, setting up segmented audience lists is your first step to send targeted email campaigns to different types of customers. However, chances are you have enough information on your customers, and your email service provider (ESP) has advanced enough systems, to take it a whole lot further. To create truly personalized email messages, set up merge tags in the subject line and body of the email to create custom greetings and salutations.

You’ve most likely seen these emails in your own inbox. When you get an email and it begins with “Dear John” instead of “Dear Customer,” you’re more likely to think a company spent the time to get to know you and create a personalized email. Your customers will think the same thing. In reality, companies are simply using a merge tag when setting up an email, and your first name (or other data point) is pulled into the field to create a custom message for that email alone. There are plenty of affordable ESPs out there that offer this feature and provide handy how-tos on setting up merge tags and using their systems.

In addition to personalizing your emails through merge tags, don’t forget to create smart content based on the type of customer you’re sending to. I already mentioned targeted offers, but you can take your emails a step further. For example, create a “Top 10 Reasons to Try John’s Outdoor Power Equipment” message for prospects or new customers, or a “Why Customers Keep Coming Back to John’s Outdoor Power Equipment” message to tell current customers about your great service.

Optimize for ‘on the go’

Once you have your email audience and messaging strategy down, make sure your emails are read. Mobile phones and tablets are now the preferred method for reading email, and more than 55 percent of email messages are now opened on a mobile device (MediaPost). What’s more, the percentage (not surprisingly) goes up over the weekend, with more than 60 percent of email messages opened on a mobile device Saturday and Sunday (Return Path). So, what does that mean for your email marketing plan? Make sure that the emails you send are not only created for desktop, but that your ESP automatically makes a responsive version that adjusts to make the emails easy to read on mobile phones and tablets.

Grab attention with media

This last makeover point is going to become more and more important as time goes on: Go beyond static text and images in your emails. Adding animation through animated GIFs will help your emails stand out in your customers’ inboxes, and adding videos to your emails will help increase the click-through rates to drive customers to your YouTube page or website.

In fact, as digital marketing evolves, all of the trends seem to favor video. That’s probably why 87 percent of online marketers now use video content, and 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week (WordStream).

Find the sweet spot

If you’re wondering if there’s a “sweet spot” when it comes to how many emails you should send and when you should send them, the answer is yes. Open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month (Database Marketing Institute), but this is something you should experiment with to find what’s right for your audience. By measuring and responding to your customers’ unique email reactions, you can tailor specific segmented campaigns to drive big results for your dealership!

Chris Damico is the marketing manager at ARI Network Services. He’s helped hundreds of dealers across the country with their digital marketing, including the content and search engine optimization (SEO) of their websites, social media presence, and advertising and email marketing campaigns. He’s dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website ( and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”