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Good emails can still work

With all the talk about using social media in business today, one might assume that the good old email that started it all is now passé. That’s not necessarily so. Social media has its strengths. But email marketing is alive and well.

Think about this. If you’re like me, your inbox gets lots of emails daily. And even though I delete many without opening them, the ones I react to are usually from businesses I recognize — proof enough that email is worth the effort for the business sending it.

Janine Popick has more than 20 years of experience in direct and online marketing and is currently CEO of Verticle Response, a provider of self-service email and social media marketing solutions for small businesses. She says there are four effective emails that can drive sales.

The Promotional Email: It’s just what it says, an email containing a special offer to save the prospect or customer money. Discounts and great deals are always attention-getters. Popick also reminds us that a promotional email can offer perks other than discounts. For example, a special gift, extra service, bonus equipment, free installation, special appointments and so on. Mix up your offers to keep them fresh and don’t forget to do something special for the people who sign up for your emails in the first place, she says.

The New Arrival Email: This is an effective vehicle for announcing the arrival of a new model, accessory product or service you’re introducing. Popick says to make sure to include an image of the product or service and a call to action to buy, preferably so recipients can respond and/or reserve it now. While not applicable to buying boats or engines, a commitment to purchase an accessory or to make a service appointment can be included in the email.

The Reorder Email: Service offers might be the most applicable in the marine business for this type of email promotion. Today’s outboards, Yamahas for example, will signal the owner when the 100-hour maintenance service is due. An email reminder that the service department is standing by to get that maintenance done without inconveniencing the customer is a good reorder email. Similarly, reordering a wash-down, detailing, pumpout or similar repetitive service makes for a good email offer.

The We Miss You Email: This is my favorite. When you haven’t seen a customer for a while and they haven’t made a purchase in some time, send an email encouraging them to come back. Popick advises starting the email with “We miss you!” Consider including some incentive to return such as a special discount, a gift, private showing, personal demonstration or similar invitation. The fact that you recognize they haven’t been to the dealership for a while can be meaningful to a customer that seems to have faded.

In the end, it’s all about staying connected to your customers and prospects. Good emails are still the low-cost, highly efficient marketing tool that can bring traffic to your dealership and increase sales.

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