With the Internet being accessible all over the world and the majority of the population now carrying smartphones, people are literally taking their email with them everywhere they go. In reality, email is a big part of our lives today.

A study last year from Salesforce Marketing Cloud reported 91 percent of people use smartphones to access email. Owners and operators who are not taking advantage of this trend as a part of their carwash marketing strategies are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with customers and increase revenue.

Think about your own experiences with email. Do you have access to it on a smartphone? How many times a day do you check it? Do you know anybody who doesn’t have an email address? You probably receive several HTML emails from retailers every week. Not only that, but many people are also guilty of purchasing items they don’t really need just because the offer seems like something they would regret not taking advantage of.

Email marketing allows businesses to speak directly to their customers — in their inboxes and at times which are convenient for them. Customers can receive an email offer from a carwash and let it sit in their inboxes for as long as they want. In a few days, if a customer feels compelled to purchase a carwash service, whether organically or due to the persuasive offer that recently caught his or her attention, he or she can quickly search for the email and retrieve the offer. Whether most carwashes realize it or not, email marketing is transactional by nature and can easily result in an immediate sale to a customer.

Call to action

When an individual receives an email from a retailer, instructions are most likely included for what that person needs to do. For example, a subscriber can often click through to purchase, sign up for an offer or print off a coupon to be redeemed by a certain date. A carwash set up with an e-commerce website can direct traffic to its website at which customers can easily and quickly purchase wash books or gift cards. Customers can also book detailing or other service appointments online if the car care business’ point-of-sale (POS) system has that particular capability.

Online bargain hunters are on the rise and they love to find great deals. More people are signing up for prominent marketing service companies, such as Groupon or LivingSocial, to receive these types of offers daily through email and/or social media.

Viral marketing is the term used to describe this business model, and some carwashes have had great success with it. These services require the retailer to offer up a substantial discount on their products and services. With such a strong offer, the goal is to inspire a “viral” type of exponential growth. This happens by the users of the service who pass along the marketing message to other people through email or social media, creating exponential growth in the message’s visibility and effect.

If a carwash’s POS system has an integrated marketing component, it is possible to integrate directly with marketing service companies.

Email marketing by itself, or by integrating with a viral marketing service, can result in many customers taking advantage of what a carwash is offering. A buy-now-use-later, online-only type of promotion can attract a sale from such a customer that might not have happened otherwise. Marketing promotions, such as “Prepay for a detail and receive a discount,” or “Purchase an unlimited membership online and receive a free month of carwashes,” can create the urgency for such a sale that could have taken months to obtain, or possibly never even have happened at all.

Furthermore, weather plays a crucial role in the carwash industry. A productive solution is to quickly get an offer out to ease the pain of a bad stretch of weather. A lot of carwash owners and operators are now offering unlimited membership plans largely to help minimize the negative impacts weather can have on businesses.

Providing a rainy day detailing or wash package discount can also generate revenue during a span of poor weather.

Personalization

Email marketing allows businesses to personally connect with customers and can help deliver the right message to the right segment of consumers. Think about it: A business’ messages are mixed in with emails from friends and family, which is why email marketing works best when personalized.

This marketing strategy allows a carwash to build relationships with its customers. A carwash can be friendly and personable and, at the same time, not invade its customers’ space. They have the choice to delete the wash’s offer, easily unsubscribe from getting future offers, choose to see what the offer is or possibly click through to the company’s website.

With email marketing, you can segment customers into various lists. The value with doing this is you can send specifically targeted email messages tailored to resonate with different types of customers and provide something in which they will perceive value. For instance, if you have a list of detailing customers, sending them a detail offer set to expire in two weeks could prompt them to come in for a service. Likewise, if you have a list of unlimited membership customers, you could offer a free month or discount if they refer other members to the program.

Email marketing gives carwashes the ability to engage customers and get the right message to them at the right time.

Email marketing is also vastly measurable. Carwash owners and operators can track bounce rates, delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribe rates, which creates a strong sense of how an email offer is performing. With this feedback, a carwash can then make adjustments to improve the efficiency of future offers.

In addition to being effective, email marketing is fairly simple and inexpensive. Some carwash POS manufacturers actually have integrated marketing components built into their POS systems. Several of the traditional marketing efforts require more time and money, such as the cost for postage, printing, design, etc. However, if a car care business has the ability to email consumers, it can easily get a message out to customers and help bring in more revenue.


 

Kevin McLoughlin is the vice president of client services for Washify Services LLC. Washify is a cloud-based, carwash POS system built with leading edge technologies and extensive marketing capabilities. McLoughlin is a 14-year industry veteran who also owns and operates an exterior carwash with detailing. He can be reached at kevin@washify.com or at 1-855-WASHIFY.