While online car purchases remain the exception rather than the rule, e-mail marketing is likely to become standard practice in dealerships throughout the world, according to 6gear, an e-mail marketing service based in San Francisco.

As advertising companies scramble to get people’s attention in an increasingly chaotic market, e-mail marketing gains permission to deliver service reminders, trade-in appraisal tools, and newsletters where customers want them: in their in boxes.

“The beauty of email marketing is that suddenly auto retailers have a window into the mind of the customer,” explains John Boas, CEO of 6gear. “Since they have a choice about whether to interact with you, the ones that do tend to spend more and stay loyal.”

So what about the all-powerful delete button? “It’s a blessing, not a threat,” says Mr. Boas. “As people ‘opt out’ of dealer e-mails, the address list only becomes more valuable. The people that agree to receive your messages have been shown to spend five times what non-recipients spend. Considering the significant numbers of people who read and respond to dealer messages, that adds up to serious profits.”

San Francisco Honda, which uses e-mail marketing, reported more than $33,000 in revenue generated by a five-week service and trade-in campaign. Message recipients who came into the store spent twice the store average.