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What’s in a subject line? More than you think

Posted by Zev Ginsberg on June 4, 2018

Some absolutely amazing, creative, and engaging emails come from dealerships, but sometimes it’s purely by chance or curiosity that recipients open the messages. It’s often overlooked, but the subject line is the single most important piece of your email messages. People are bombarded with countless emails and most times, the only thing standing between your email and the “delete” button is the subject line.

According to a HubSpot study, automotive industry emails have an open rate of only 35%. Despite being slightly higher than open rates across all industries, which average 32%, it still means that 65% of your emails are never opened.

Take a second to think about your own email. How many of your personal or business emails do you simply ignore? If your dealership’s subject lines aren’t grabbing potential customers’ attention, it doesn’t matter how captivating and compelling the body of the email is.

Tips for crafting a great subject line

How can you improve? Start by putting yourself in a customer’s shoes. This sounds easy, but it tends to be really difficult for automotive professionals who know way too much about cars and would shop very differently than the average consumer.

By the time a shopper engages with your dealership, they’ve already completed a significant amount of research. You might not want to hear this, but, at this point, they’re more concerned with finding the specific car they want than with choosing the right dealership.

To get shoppers like that to open your emails, then, consider the following tips:

  • Make it personal. Incorporating the word “Your” is very effective—any time you can help the customer envision ownership and possession, it’s a win!
  • Keep it relevant. Including the make and model in the subject line will increase the likelihood of your email being opened. For example, if the customer has asked about a Chevy Tahoe LTZ, try “More information on your Chevy Tahoe LTZ.”
  • Build trust. Incorporate the customer’s request into the subject line so that it’s consistent with the information in your email. For example, if they want to test drive a car, use “Your Tahoe LTZ is serviced and ready for a test drive.” If they’ve inquired about financing, consider “You are pre-approved for financing on your Tahoe LTZ.”
  • Do some testing. There’s no magic bullet – your audience may respond better to short emails, or emotional language, or brand names — you won’t really know until you do some testing and see what gets the best response rates among your prospects.

How to make autoresponders work

While personalized emails are the gold standard, it’s not always possible to send one to every inquiry, and that’s completely okay—an autoresponder is always better than a late response or no response. Unfortunately, many autoresponders use subject lines like “Thank You for Your Inquiry,” which is a great example of how to get someone not to open your email.

If you need to use an autoresponder, customize the subject line to something less generic and more authentic — but don’t try to pass it off as a personal response. Customers will see right through that. Acknowledge that they are receiving an autoresponder to confirm you received their request, and that one of your staff is looking into the information they requested. Make sure to include direct contact information in case they don’t want to wait.

Now you’ve gotten more customers to open your emails, and that itself is a big win. But now the question becomes: how do you get customers to respond? Stay tuned for an upcoming article on tips for increasing your email response rate.

Topics: advice, Marketing tips, tips and tricks