Table of Contents
- What to Include in an Auto Body Customer Newsletter
- Newsletter Formats
- Who to Send Your Newsletter To
- Email Marketing Tools
- How Often to Send Your Newsletter
- Outsourcing Your Newsletter
- Final Thoughts
Your collision repair facility isn’t exactly the type of business people pop into to see what’s new - in many cases it’s a place where customers don’t want to go, until they have to. That said, you want to be able to keep your business top of mind so that when prospects do need auto body repair, you are the first one they think of.
An email newsletter is just the thing to do that, with one big caveat - you have to have something to say. You’d be surprised at how much there is to say if you really think about it, especially if you’re involved in your community. Your customers will appreciate it as long as you don’t overdo it.
Read on to find out what’s involved in creating a newsletter, and if it seems overwhelming, we’ll look at how you can offload the work too.
What to Include in an Auto Body Customer Newsletter
As a starting point, before you decide to include something in your newsletter, ask yourself if you’d read it or at least skim it, if somebody else sent it to you. Here are some high level ideas for topics you might want to include in your newsletter.
If you can offer practical advice to your prospects about protecting their vehicles, or how to maintain them after a collision, this type of content is useful.
You could offer an overview of ADAS systems and why calibration is important, or what to know about electric vehicle repair, or any other topic that might be interesting.
Weather Related Topics
If you are preparing for a major storm or have just had one, you might send out an email about dent repair, or what to do if you slide into a ditch during a snowstorm. Not only are these types of reminders helpful, they make people remember your shop.
The topics in your newsletter don’t always have to be about your business. Pay attention to your local news and see if there’s anything you can piggyback. This is sometimes referred to as “newsjacking”, where you include a topic that your readers are already aware of or discussing, and tie it to your business in some way.
For example, if there’s a road construction project in your area, you can remind people about traffic delays, or driving carefully around the road crews. If there are a high number of deer strikes in the area, this is a great opportunity to explain what to do in case of that type of accident.
If you have recently upgraded your facilities, added a new service, improved your shop management software, hired or promoted team members, hosted a continuing education event, or some other type of event, these are all worth including in your newsletter.
If you come across an article or blog post on another website that would be relevant and interesting to your customers, you can include it in your own newsletter, just be sure to credit the author and link back to the original source. As long as you don’t try and make it look like you wrote it this is perfectly acceptable.
Once in a while you might ask one of your vendors or someone you have a working relationship with, to write a “guest post”. For instance, a local insurance agent might have some tips on choosing the right coverage, or if you work with a third party for PDR, he might write up some examples of the types of damage he can repair and how it can save money.
Community Based Info
If there are any events happening in your community that you want to promote, add it to your email and spread the word. Whether it’s auto related or not, you can share events with your audience. Maybe it’s about a custom car show, or maybe it’s about a new restaurant opening around the corner.
If you’re collecting testimonials from your customers, include one or two in your email. Ideally these are either fantastic reviews that clearly explain something your team did well, or it’s from someone well known in your community – or both.
Related Service Promotions
If you offer other services, such as headlight restoration, detailing, or spray on bedliners, you can promote them in your newsletter.
Use your newsletter to spread the word about your career opportunities, whether you need detailers, painters, estimators or other techs.
There are some decisions to make before sending out your newsletter, like what it should look like and what format the items should be in. The main question to answer is whether you want to include the entire content of your article or post, or just a teaser.
There’s no right or wrong here, so you can either go with your gut instinct, or test both to see which way works best.
Including the Entire Article
You may want your readers to simply open the email and read it, without having to click to continue reading elsewhere. This format works best when you only have one main topic that you want to include. If you have several items to include, it may work better to use teasers.
Including Teasers With Links
With this format, you have a catchy headline and a short blurb to entice people to click and read the whole post. This lets you include more topics, and people can click one the one(s) they want to read.
This will require you to have a website, or somewhere to “host” your blog posts. In this scenario, a person would open your email, click the headline or a button to read your post, and be taken to your website (or some other website) in order to read the post or watch a video.
Who to Send Your Newsletter To
In order to send emails to your collision repair customers, you have to collect their email addresses! Your shop management system should have a field where you can store this, and when you’re ready to start sending emails, you can export them from that system and import them to your email marketing tool.
You’ll want to create one or more mailing lists to send your emails to. This may include current and past customers, or maybe you have a separate list for prospects.
Email Marketing Tools
It’s important to note that you don’t send a newsletter straight from your email program (Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.). Instead, you’ll need to use an email marketing tool, like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, AWeber, or Hubspot. These systems let you control the design & formatting, and handle your lists for you. When someone unsubscribes, the system takes care of it, so that the next time you send, it won’t go to them.
Email marketing tools will also provide reports showing you how many people you sent an email to, how many of them opened it, how many clicked on the links, and how many unsubscribed.
Formatting an email can be a challenge, especially when you add in graphics, and factor in how to make it look good on both a desktop email app like Outlook, and on an iPhone. Email marketing tools make this much easier.
How Often to Send Your Newsletter
Many retail businesses send emails at least once a week, but for a body shop that’s going to turn people off, and cause them to unsubscribe. Your typical collision customer will only be needing your services once every several years, so they may not be open to frequent emails from you.
Your best bet is going to be a monthly newsletter - as long as it has good info. If you really struggle coming up with content, then send them every other month, or quarterly. If you wait too long, your recipients may find it strange that your email is coming to them seemingly at random.
Sending your emails on a regular, consistent basis works best.
Outsourcing Your Newsletter
There’s a lot to consider before sending an email newsletter, and I hope I haven’t talked you out of it. Chances are you’re too busy to sit down and write emails every month, but that doesn't mean you shouldn’t send one.
Consider working with an email marketing provider or digital marketing agency to produce professional looking newsletters and keep track of your results. An agency like ours will create the content, sync your customer database with your email list, and send newsletters to your prospects and customers for you. All you have to do is read a draft and give your approval.
Sending an email newsletter is a great way to add yet another customer touchpoint for your body shop. It keeps your shop front and center in your customers’ minds and gives you a way to communicate with hundreds of people on an ongoing basis.
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