The 10 Commandments of Email Marketing

Follow these simple guidelines to increase your open rates, grow your revenue, and keep your customers coming back.

Increase Your Open Rates, Get Customers to Come In & Keep your Messages Out of the Spam Folder

 (In a rush? Click here to see a PDF summary of the 10 Commandments)

Even with all the social media platforms, texting, direct mail, and other marketing channels, email is still the most effective channel for driving sales and customer loyalty.

Email marketing lets you personalize your message in ways that social media and paid ads simply can’t match. But it’s not as simple as hitting ‘send.’

Many automotive service businesses fail at email marketing because they don’t have the right strategy in place.

That’s why we’ve condensed the most essential email marketing tips into ten easy-to-digest commandments so you can start the process of leveraging your email list today. 

auto shop manager writing marketing emails



1. Build Your List

Your email list is the most powerful and reliable tool in your marketing arsenal, boasting an average of a $36 return on investment per $1 spent across all industries.

A high-quality email list is the key to unlocking your ability to effectively market across multiple channels – not just email. Your list can also be used to create custom audiences for hyper-targeted digital ads on Facebook and Google.

Needless to say, collecting emails and maintaining a well-managed list of subscribers should be a top priority for automotive service business owners, managers, and marketers who want to increase car count, average ticket value, or average repair order. 

But how do you grow your email list? Simply by asking! Start by making sure your team asks for an email addresses after every service.

If you want to get your customers’ contact information, but you’re worried about being too pushy, this tip is for you. Let them know that in exchange for their email, they can expect to receive discounts, promotions, and service updates from you.

They’ll be much more likely to say yes if they know exactly what they’re getting into, and that they’ll automatically benefit from providing their email address.

Another great way to grow your email list is by incentivizing your team. Many shops will provide incentives and bonuses to managers and techs who are actively collecting customer emails.

The typical range for email collection for automotive service businesses is 30-40% of total customers, with the best-performing shops hitting closer to 70-80%.

Just remember, the more emails you collect, the higher your shop revenue will be. Grow your list and boost shop morale.


2. Use a Domain Email Address & Verify Your Domain

Your email address should match your website domain to keep your brand consistent. That will prompt a higher reputation score that ties directly to deliverability and open rates.

If you’re running your business on a free email address like Gmail or Outlook, it’s time to make a change. 

Using the free version of these services can hurt your email deliverability, by suggesting that your business lacks credibility. Even if you don’t think your business is ready for it yet, setting up a professional domain email address is cheap, easy, and can make all the difference to your email marketing effectiveness.

Whether your shop provides full-service repairs, quick lube services, tire sales and services, detailing, or any combination of those, you should be using an email marketing platform to send out emails to your current and prospective customers.

This requires a domain email address to sign up and start using their tools. These platforms allow you to create and send professional-looking emails, monitor your open rates, and track engagement.

This must-have data provides you with the ability to understand the effectiveness of your email marketing, so you can continue to improve your campaign strategy over time. 

a business owner is frustrated by a  one star review


3. Monitor Your Reputation 

Similar to the way consumers use Google Maps and Google My Business to view and compare automotive businesses, Google servers rely on multiple data points that provide feedback on your email reputation.

Think of these servers as the gatekeepers between your emails going to spam or into the recipient’s main inbox.

Google’s servers are going to monitor your email domain, recognize the reputation of that email domain, and then determine if the sending address has a high reputation. If that’s the case, it will let the email through. If not, then it’s time to rethink your email marketing strategy.

“We live in a world where there’s so much spam, so much junk, so many scammers that are trying to get through. Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft – they’re all trying to find ways to improve the reliability of their users, facilitate a positive experience with incoming emails, and avoid spam.” –Justin Rae, Cinch Founder & CEO

Tools like Google Postmaster and Outlook’s SNDS allow you to check your email reputation and understand if your reputation is high, medium, or low.

Your email reputation is an indication of how other email services such as Gmail and Outlook view your email. If your reputation is low, it could mean that your emails are going straight to spam.

A medium-to-high reputation score means your emails are most likely landing in the inbox.


4. Create Brand Consistency

A professional website is an essential asset to your business, no matter the industry you’re in. People who visit your website need to have the most confidence in your brand; after all, you’re asking them to place their trust in you.

A website reassures your customers that you are a professional and legitimate business, which will help increase their confidence in working with you. If you have yet to build a website, now is the time! 

When it comes to email marketing, your website domain and your email domain need to match. If you’re sending out emails, particularly to new customers, they will expect brand consistency across your website, email campaigns and any other marketing campaigns you’re running.

The servers that gatekeep your email deliverability will want to ensure that your domain and email content matches your website, which is another mechanism that email service providers use to protect their users from spam. 

spam email icon


 5. Do Not – Under Any Circumstances – Buy an Email List 

While the concept of spending a few hundred dollars on a sizeable email list may sound appealing, the consequences of using purchased lists far outweigh the benefits. 

Here’s why: 

  • Purchased lists are generally unreliable and do not contain qualified contacts

  • Email servers are far more likely to mark your emails as spam

  • Your open rates and engagement rates will tank

  • You devalue your brand image when you solicit people without their permission

  • You might get blacklisted and blocked from sending emails altogether 

Email servers can easily mark your emails as spam because they weren’t sent with opt-in permission from the recipients. And that means less eyeballs on your awesome offers, which means fewer sales and less opportunity for engagement.

Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use spam traps, which rely on filters that automatically analyze an email address and determine whether the email is a spam-sending address.

If you’re using purchased lists, the likelihood of getting flagged as spam increases substantially and may lead to the inability to reach anyone via email, including your legitimate subscribers.


6. Warm Up Your Domain 

Domain warming is the process of developing a reliable sending reputation for a new domain or a domain that has been inactive for a prolonged period.

Once you get your domain set up and ready to monitor, and your first email ready to send, you will need to “warm up” your list.

All of the different servers you’re going to be sending to will want to ensure that your domain has a reliable reputation. 

Rather than sending your email campaign to your entire list, start with small volumes and adjust your sending volume over 3-5 days.

For example, a business with a 10,000-person list would start by sending emails to 500 recipients on day one, 300 recipients the following day, increase to 800 recipients the next day, and so on.

As people start opening your emails from the initial group, your open rates will gradually improve for the subsequent groups, and eventually, you will be able to send emails to your entire list at one time!


7. Steady Sending Wins the Race

As we often say at Cinch, “Google doesn’t like to be surprised.” Servers want to see that people are opening and engaging with your emails.

They often favor senders who don’t showcase large fluctuations in email frequency and volume.

Creating a regular email campaign schedule and sending your emails to similar-sized lists will display credibility to the digital powers that be. 

That’s one reason why you’ll benefit from email automation with a tool like Cinch.

You can automatically send customized emails to your customers when it’s time for them to come in for an oil change, tire rotation, or other service. It’s easy to set up once and not have to touch it again.

a clean email means higher deliverability



8. Keep Your List Clean

List hygiene? Yep, that’s a thing. List management is more than just growing your list — it’s also about removing non-engaging recipients.

Chances are, you have people on your email list that haven’t opened your emails in a while. If you continue to email those people, it may be detrimental to your email reputation.

At Cinch, our multi-channel marketing platform helps auto service businesses understand open and engagement rates and pair that data with automation that segments lists for future campaigns.

This promotes an increase in deliverability, open rates, engagement rates, and ultimately conversions. 


9. Be Cognizant of Your Image-to-Text Ratio

Mobile is now responsible for at least 50% of all email opens. Responsive email designs are essential, and that includes your image-to-text ratio.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the images around 40% of the email and 60% text to ensure a balance of captivating imagery and valuable written content. 

Sometimes email providers block an image from coming through in an email.

For this reason, all images should contain what’s called Alt text, which is simply alternative text that will display in place of an image if the image fails to load.

Your email copy and imagery should complement the content on your website, which contributes to your email reputation for both customers and email service providers. 


10. Cultivate Meaningful Customer Relationships 

The most successful automotive service business owners understand the vital importance of building and maintaining meaningful customer relationships.

A stellar reputation can’t be bought – it has to be built. Building long-term, profitable relationships with customers takes time and effort. This means providing useful, valuable content across all of your digital marketing efforts, not just email.

Marketing is all about building relationships with customers. But that doesn’t mean you can just send them one-off promotions after another.

To be successful, you need to get creative and provide an unforgettable brand experience that educates, informs, entertains, and genuinely connects with your customers.


What to do next 

Email marketing is a proven way to increase car count and boost average ticket value or average repair order.

At Cinch, we make sure your email marketing follows these 10 commandments right from the start.

Not to mention, you can add two-way text, review requests, direct mail, Facebook and Google ad audience management, webchat, surveys, loyalty programs, and more.

We integrate with your POS so all your marketing can be driven by your customer data. 


Infographic of the 10 commandments of email marketing

Suggested reading

Get tips delivered right to your mailbox

Visit our website to learn more about how Cinch can help you market to your customers with intention.

Learn more