While I was reading the May edition of Dealer Magazine, I happened on an article written by Jim Boldebook. He was talking about the pitfalls of digital marketing, and it's something that I feel I should bring up here as well, given the number of times I have discussed targeted messaging and sending messages to specific customer types and groups. It's important to consider your content carefully before you put it out there, now more than ever. A newspaper ad might have gone ignored by people who were offended by it. Who do they report it to? Often it's too much effort to follow all the proper channels and blame gets shifted from one company to the next.
So, how can I protect my automotive customers and myself from an email marketing fiasco?
When you use email marketing to promote your automotive business, be it a dealer or an automotive repair shop, your marketing is online in an instant. People can capture images and keep copies, and it can lead to bad press if your content is offensive, even accidentally. Of course, this means upholding a strict code of conduct in the workplace for employees and associates, and if you're really trying to stay out of the public eye in a bad light, keeping your political and moral judgments to yourself. But this also applies to your marketing messages. A short checklist should eliminate most problems you could have, but always be cautious anyway, especially with organizations like the FTC gearing up to make companies more accountable and transparent. If your automotive email marketing contains any of the following, you may want to reconsider the message that marketing is sending:
- Are you making jokes at the expense of a group of people of any age, race, sexuality, ethnic background, religion or otherwise?
- Are you belittling the problems faced by specific groups in society?
- Are you making public assumptions about what groups of people will want which vehicles?
- When sending targeted marketing, are you stating anywhere in the email or other media that this marketing message is explicitly for one group, or excluding automotive customers in the body of your marketing message?
- Would you be comfortable with this marketing message making headlines in prominent newspapers?
- Does your marketing message speak negatively about any customers or prospective customers?
So, that's all I have to do to make my email marketing work?
Much of keeping your emails friendly and casual is just common sense. Treat people how you want to be treated, and before you send a message put yourself in their shoes to see how it sounds. Also, read it to an employee you can trust who will give you an outside perspective. Don't be afraid to ask for input, because that's how bad automotive marketing messages slip through and cost you business. A little bit of empathy and a lot of dedication to quality marketing content will go a long way with automotive customers, and it will lead to more successful marketing that doesn't result in a public relations nightmare.
This doesn't mean it's the only rule. You still have to keep content friendly, professional, and engaging. It sounds like a wire act, I know. But the truth is that you only really have to imagine someone sending you the same messages you're thinking about putting out there. Try on the shoes of the demographics you're sending to, and study analytic data about your contact pool. Always be browsing the net for more marketing tips that will help you build effective, non-offensive material. Check out our automotive industry page for more information on how we can help you improve your business, and then see what marketing automation can do for you!