Latest News

Experimenting with email: How AutoTrader’s fighting against COVID challenges

New email metrics analysis from Validity reveals that email best practices were largely neglected during the peak Christmas shopping period and the impact of this may influence revenue into 2021.

Over the peak shopping period (November to December 2020), the volume of email marketing correspondence increased by 19% year-over-year, but with that rise, recycled spam traps also rose by 13%. While Validity reports that the number of spam traps are now on a downward trend, a company’s email deliverability rates may still be impacted from the blip of steering away from email best practices in a bid to reach out to as many subscribers as possible over the festive season.

Email marketing is still integral for businesses to reach out to subscribers, and although these may be challenging times, continuing to win the favour of email providers is essential and businesses should be endeavouring to always stick to email best practices to avoid a negative impact.

In a recent Validity webinar, Sarah Jones, Senior CRM Manager at AutoTrader, joined Validity’s Sridhar Chandran, Email Strategist, and Guy Hanson, VP of Customer Engagement, to discuss how the company has delicately been balancing email best practices against experimenting with marketing programmes during COVID which has ultimately led to new and improved customer relationships.

When lockdown hit, AutoTrader quickly adapted its website and marketing messaging as dealerships were forced to close, and in-person viewings were no longer possible. Suddenly, AutoTrader’s planned content – such as filming the latest Ferrari in Italy – had to be put aside in favour of communications that were sensitive to the ever-changing COVID situation.

AutoTrader’s traditional messaging pivoted from simply “buying and selling” to “researching and saving for later”. As a result, the company launched a series of reactive content emails and programmes to keep customers engaged, which included:

  • “Car of the Week” – subscribers came to expect these weekly emails from AutoTrader which has ranged from showcasing a bright pink limousine to a charismatic ford escort convertible
  • “Find a supercar for under £50,000” – subscribers were offered an escape and the opportunity to browse through a list of lavish cars at more affordable price points
  • “David Beckham’s Aston Martin V8 Volante” – offered subscribers a look into the specs of the footballer’s swanky classic car

According to AutoTrader’s email engagement metrics, email frequency had increased by 2-3 emails per week, but the new forms of correspondence were a great success. The emails on footballer’s cars went down a storm and received unique open metrics well over 50%. By switching from the obvious “buy and sell” marketing strategy to more quirky emails that captured car enthusiasts’ intrigue, AutoTrader experienced increased email open rates which not only helped drive traffic to the website, but kept AutoTrader front of mind for the consumer.

Working closely across the omnichannel (SEO, PR, CRM and Organic Social), AutoTrader’s email content also became much more informative as it recognised that many customers were confused and overwhelmed during lockdown. This also proved to be a success, as AutoTrader’s ‘Coronavirus FAQ’s article’ has been the company’s most successful and widely clicked on article in the email channel to date.

Testing new email programmes can be a daunting prospect for some marketers, but by employing Validity’s Certification and various other email tools to ensure consistent deliverability, AutoTrader has been able to confidently and successfully experiment with new marketing messages. This has ultimately led to AutoTrader improving its customer relationships and staying resilient, despite the ongoing challenges that the pandemic presents to the motoring industry.