Dealership Internet managers often ask us which e-mail is the most important.

Our experience shows there is no specific e-mail that is always effective or most valued by the shopper. Whatever the situation — whether it's an auto response, an appointment confirmation or long-term e-mail — your staff needs to craft e-mails that generate a positive response from your prospects.

So which e-mail is the most important? It's the next e-mail you send.

Here are six simple suggestions for your e-mails that drive the most responses.

  1. Be your own focus group: Consider how you read e-mails you receive and try to be considerate of this when you send out your own.

    If you're reading e-mails from a particular company and responding, then they likely are doing something right that you should incorporate into your own approach.

    Sometimes we look too much at other car dealerships to find the silver bullet approach. I find emulating leading e-mail marketing companies such as Amazon, eBay, Expedia and others to be more effective.

    Sign up for eNewsletters or information e-mails from other sources if you really want to see how to nurture a prospect long-term.

  2. Make the subject line relevant: Even if, as a consumer, I wasn't expecting an e-mail from a car dealership, I am likely to go to a link that says, “Click here for your car price.” Make sure your subject line meets the expectations of the consumer and be careful not to send e-mails with buzzwords that spam filters will catch easily.

  3. Don't write a book: Most e-mail users are scanners who will quickly peruse an e-mail for information that is important to them. Because of this, write short and easy-to-read e-mails that contain links to more information.

    I like links to sources that provide trade values and financing information. Prospects completing these fields usually are showing their true intentions, and often they are serious buyers.

  4. Tell them who you are: You wouldn't hand me a business card or send me a letter without your dealership name or logo, so why would you not include the same information on your e-mails?

    Unbelievably, many Internet salespeople send e-mails responding to customer requests without providing them with contact information.

    Make it easy for your prospects to know who is sending them the e-mail with a simple typed name of your dealership centered at the top along with a link to your website and phone number.

    You likely have this data in your signature at the bottom but if you consider how many times a TV ad includes a phone number, you can appreciate the benefit of this redundant act.

  5. Make the message about them: If your staff sends blanket e-mails that are not relevant to the original request, chances are the buyers will be turned off and tune out your dealership. If you send me a commercial truck flyer, but I wanted a convertible, I may unsubscribe from future e-mails.

  6. Be patient: A prospect may not respond right away no matter how Shakespearian your writing is.

In your initial e-mail responses, tell prospects you will call them in a few minutes if you have their phone number. If you don't reach them right away, follow up aggressively with both phone calls and e-mails for a short period of time — three to seven days. After that, put them into a customer relationship management (CRM) system that automates a follow up schedule. Keep reminding them in subsequent e-mails that you are the right choice.

Follow these suggestions and your prospects likely will start responding positively to your e-mail communications.

And remember, before you hit the “send” button, ask yourself if your prospects will see value in the e-mail.

David Kain is president of Kain Automotive Inc. He can be reached at david@kainautomotive.com 859-533-2626.

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at Dealers@wardsauto.com.