A Better Digital Marketing Playbook, Part 2: The Right Message Matters

dealership digital marketing playbook

Our last post on digital marketing playbook problems talked a little about the Zero Moment of Truth and the issues – and opportunities – it can cause dealers.

Some dealers only think about what digital marketing is, while others have moved onto asking how and why digital marketing matters.

We talked about how focusing exclusively on the “what” of digital marketing can cause three common problems for your dealership. The first was ineffectively targeting your marketing messages using bad data.

Now that you’re working to resolve any of those issues, we’ll move on to the second problem.

Playbook Problem: Hit-or-Miss CRM

According to a recent Harris Poll, 80% of Americans actually enjoy getting promotional emails because they recommend products based on previous purchases.

You probably use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to send your customers promotional offers. It works – but your CRM tool isn’t a great replacement for a marketing tool.

Here’s why:

1. Your messages don’t display.

Your CRM tool may offer easy-to-use, beautiful email message templates… that your customers receive as a single image.

That’s a problem, because image-only emails don’t always display when opened due to email client settings. That means your message is just a box with little red “x.”

If customers don’t feel like making the extra effort to download the image to see the full message, then they’ll get your emails but not your marketing content.

2. Your messages are marked as spam.

If your dealership’s CRM tool uses an all-or-nothing distribution method, then you’re probably sending email blasts containing the same message to every customer in your database.

And email blasts these days are typically flagged as spam by many email clients.

Can you remember the last time you received a notification on your phone for a spam message in your inbox? Chances are it’s been a long time.

Email service providers and applications are more sophisticated and don’t pester their users with any kind of notification when they receive spam messages.

That means any would-be customers won’t open your messages because they don’t know you’ve emailed them.

3. Your messages won’t reach every potential customer.

OK, let’s say your dealership’s CRM system can send targeted campaigns that result in a visible, legible email. It still isn’t getting the job done for every single customer and prospect.

Some CRM tools can only track active customers who purchase a vehicle or bring a vehicle in for service. If you use a CRM tool like that, you can’t target inactive or potential customers with marketing messages.

You’re also limited to following up with customers based on the actions they take. Does your CRM tool let you predict what customers want and send them something outside their transaction history?

Solution: Create Smarter Messages

CRM tools manage customer relationships. They aren’t that great at marketing to customers.

Make sure your staff understands the capabilities and limitations of your current CRM tool. Definitely keep using your CRM tool to send follow-up messages and incentives to customers who buy vehicles at your dealership or need a specific service for their vehicle.

However, consider investing in additional marketing tools. You can also train your marketing manager or hire a reputable service provider to develop effective marketing campaigns with smarter messages that go beyond the limits of your CRM system.


Messages sent from a CRM tool don’t always display, or they’re marked as spam, or they don’t reach every customer and prospect. These misses can cost your dealership time, money, and future sales.

Make sure your CRM system isn’t playing double duty as a marketing player. You don’t want to risk sending the wrong message in the wrong way to current customers. And you also want to make sure your potential customers get your marketing messages!

If you can create smarter with your marketing messages, you can be more effective in your marketing efforts, allowing you to “win” the marketing game over your competition.


The content in this post has appeared in an alternate form in the Naked Lime Marketing whitepaper, “Stop Using the Same Playbook as Your Competition: 3 New Marketing Plays to Help You Win.”