Best Practices

You Have an Evil Customer Sabotaging Your Dealership

master of disguises There is one customer who seems to have purchased from almost every dealership in the country. He is a master of disguises – sometimes he’s the nicest, little old lady and the next day he could be a first time car buyer. It is amazing how much this guy gets around but even more amazing is the ongoing damage he causes:

  • Preventing your other customers from receiving your email messages because he’s convinced email providers like AOL and Hotmail that you’re not a reputable company.
  • Over-inflating the amount of customers you have with email addresses by 10% or more.

Who is this guy and why does he have such an impact?

He has a few aliases, two popular ones are: “Does Not Have” and “Would Not Give.” You can probably look him up in your database right now by doing an email search for “DNH” or “WNG” and you’ll find tons of returns for:

But sometimes he’s a little sneakier and you’ll find him under:

The possibilities are really endless.

What is really happening is your employee is asking a customer what their email address is and when the customer declines, your employee inputs in the bad email address to get credit for asking – not realizing that a bad email is much worse than no email.

While some 3rd party vendors sending your emails will do a data hygiene audit to remove these bad addresses, I’m guessing the email broadcasts coming from your dealership do not.

When you send a dealership email broadcast with a high bounce rate due to bad email addresses, the email providers (Yahoo, Gmail, AOL) take note of that and use it as one of their determining factors in whether your email message gets delivered to your customer’s inbox, spam folder, or blocked entirely.

Send enough dealership email broadcasts with high bounce rates and soon you’ll find yourself with a bad sender reputation and your deliverability rate to all of your customers can suffer.

Additionally, most 3rd party vendors sending email on your behalf, base some of their pricing on the number of emails in your list. If you’re paying to send to [email protected] then you’re raising your price unnecessarily.

What can you do?

  1. Educate your employees on the problems with entering false email addresses. If they need to enter something to show they asked, then enter “declined” without the .com extension. By not including “.com” in the field most email programs won’t import that address so you’ll avoid the bad send. (If the email field requires a “.com” then enter nothing.)
  2. Clean-up your database to remove bad emails. You won’t have emails for your entire database so it may not be as large of a project as you think.
  3. Develop a confirmation email process to validate new emails that are entered.
  4. If your customers are receiving a benefit for signing up for your email notifications, email that benefit. So rather than hand them a $5 service coupon for joining your list, email them that coupon.

Online marketing options seem to change daily but basic marketing principles still hold true – collect accurate data on your customers so you can market to your base… which is almost always more profitable than the cost to find and convert a new prospect.

Has the master of disguises visited your dealership?

Take one part geek, add a healthy dose of creativity, top it off with an obsession for marketing and you have… Malinda Terreri. Her marketing talent...
Malinda - THANK YOU so much for posting this article!  This has been an issue for a looooong time and I can't believe we have not mentioned it on DealerRefresh before.
  • M
  • November 22, 2011
Thanks Alex. Happy to contribute.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • November 24, 2011
Great stuff Malinda!

"What is really happening is your employee is asking a customer what their email address is and when the customer declines, your employee inputs in the bad email address to get credit for asking"

Or dealers are not training their people HOW to ask for the consumers email address. Many times this is due to lack of education around the importance of collecting email. Plus let's face it, many dealers do NOT have a strategy about a solid email marketing from a Prospect and Retention side.

Shame on dealers for NOT having a strategy about email marketing.

P.S. As Malinda points out - be sure your email service provider is removing the placeholder/alias before sending. My dealers are using AutoRevenue for our service retention email marketing and I know for a fact they are removing these bad emails for us. :)