Simple Email to Get Replies

Customer Experience, Lead Response, Email Marketing

Automated email replies always feel dismissive to me. Like my inquiry is not important enough for an actual person to reply. Yet, most dealership CRMs are configured to automatically send generic email responses to online lead inquiries. Why are we doing this?

Sure, we’ve all been conditioned to respond as quickly as possible. However, being quick should never trump being impressive. I’d much rather wait for 30-minutes for a personal response then wait 5-seconds for what feels like a brush off. And you can bet I’d rather do business with the former. 

Instituting a policy of personal responses to internet leads doesn’t have to take a lot of time or training (yes, you still need an automatic response for after-hours inquiries). A quick, thorough, and personal response can become second-nature to your team if you give people a simple template to follow, and mandate the practice. 

The best template for emails that get responses is one divided into three sections that meet three key goals: Create a positive first impression; drive customer engagement and demonstrate transparency. Here’s how. 

Create a Positive First Impression

A positive impression starts with your subject line, and what you type matters. A lot.
Up to 35 percent of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. Begin with a subject line that is written like a personal text message (to further increase open rates) and includes the customer’s first name and the vehicle of interest. For example: “Hey John, here’s the info you requested about the Toyota 4-Runner.” It’s short, personal, and promises answers to those burning vehicle questions. 

Next, professionally introduce yourself at the beginning of the email. I’m always surprised how few salespeople do this. Yet, it’s crucial to let the customer know they are interacting with a real person with the product knowledge to help them. 

Cultivate More Customer Engagement

After introducing yourself, show appreciation for the customer’s interest. It can be as simple as, “Thank you for reaching out today.” This is important because customers who don’t feel appreciated leave. Up to 68 percent of customers churn because they believe a business doesn’t care about them

A customer value statement (not dealership-focused) can also go a long way towards cultivating engagement. The focus of today’s consumer is less about whether your dealership has been around for decades and if you’re family-owned, and more about if you are willing to provide a great experience. For example: “Visit our online store where you can research and select vehicles and enjoy an easy buying experience.” This statement is all about your customers, not your dealership. 

Finally, consider embedding short (30 to 60-second) videos in your replies. Studies show a 19 percent increase in email open rates when including video, and a 65 percent increase in email click through rates when including video. Video is powerful because it reflects the emotion and human touch which help build trust and rapport faster. 

It’s easy and fast to take videos with a mobile phone. Record a personal greeting, make a vehicle-specific video by stepping into the vehicle a customer inquired about, or do a vehicle walk-around – the options are limited to your imagination. 

Demonstrate Transparency

Today’s customers can access just about anything about a vehicle (including price) through self-guided research. There’s no point in trying to hide information, unless you want to take your dealership out of the running for a sale. 

Instead, make it your goal to answer questions, provide value, and deliver “next level” information. First, address availability and why it’s a good time to buy. For example: “Yes! It’s available and now is a great time to buy because of <low interest rates, seasonal specials, etc.>.

Then, transparently provide pricing information that exceeds the customer’s expectations. For example: “Here’s the lease, loan, and out-the-door price on the Toyota 4-Runner you’re interested in.” 

Here’s the template with the complete email text:

Subject: Hey John, here’s the info you requested on the 2022 Toyota 4-Runner

Main Message:

Hi John, I’m Linda and I’ve been helping customers of Anytime Toyota for over 5 years. Thanks for getting in touch today!

I’m happy to tell you the 4-Runner is available, and now is a great time to buy because we’re running seasonal specials.
Here’s the lease, loan, and out-of-door price on the 4-Runner <include pricing>. I’m happy to answer any questions.

Be sure to visit our online store <link> where you can research more vehicles and even start the purchasing paperwork. Thanks again for reaching out!


Remember: The goal of a lead response email is to earn the privilege of a response, not to sell a car. Don’t go for the hard close. Instead, answer the customer’s questions, give transparent information, and make it personal. The payoff will be engaged customers who enjoy working (and buying) with you. 

This article was featured on CBT News.

Lawson Owen is the founder and CEO at Proactive Dealer Solutions, the largest independent business development consulting firm in North America. Lawson is a thought leader in lead and process management and has been inspiring management teams for over 20 years. He is a regular speaker at conferences and industry meetings for dealers, dealer groups, and manufacturers in the automotive, marine, and power sports industries.

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