2007 Automotive Emails

It is time again for an email market sector review. Today we'll be looking at the email marketing campaigns in the automotive sector, always a favorite.

Unlike most of the other car manufacturers, who rely heavily on their own internal lists for marketing efforts, Hyundai doesn't really seem to have an internal email marketing program in place, or an area to opt-in on its site. Instead, the company's email marketing efforts take the form of banner ads and sponsorships in third-party publications. So far this year, for instance, the company has a strong presence as a pure text ad and link in the A&E newsletters such as the History Channel update emails. The Hyundai Santa Fe SUV model seems to be the big push for 2007.

Chevrolet and General Motors seem to be all over the place, with wildly different branding campaigns, logos, and no discernable consistency. Branding in banners running in email newsletters from the Country Music Channel and KIIS FM sometimes say Chevrolet, sometimes just show the logo, sometimes appear large, sometimes appear small; the KIIS FM banner doesn't even mention the product or company at all. General Motors is also putting out one of the most poorly designed internal email newsletters I've seen in quite a while, certainly not in keeping with the rest of the industry, whose mailings in general are some of the best around. Not sure what is going on here, but please -- will some email professional take these folks by the hand?

Nissan is out there promoting its Nissan National Sales Race, where it is trying to get rid of 100,000 vehicles in a single sales promotion. The company is also sponsoring and promoting a VH1 Colorado Ski Vacation promotion. Nissan was doing quite a bit of emailing using third-party affiliate lists at the end of 2006, but that seems to have been curtailed as of 2007.

Saturn has done banner ads in some Rodale email publications, and is also sponsoring a National Donor Day on the Discovery Channel's email newsletters. Saturn's internal mailings suffer from the General Motors syndrome: lacking any real design sense or consistency. As a former Saturn owner, I must say it's sad to see how far this brand has sunk.

Ford has run a few MyPoints promotions, but its email efforts for the past month or so seem to be focused on the button it has been sponsoring on the Daily Candy newsletters. Apparently this tactic is working: Ford's Web site traffic pattern spikes, as recorded by Alexa, seem to match the email drops from the Daily Candy in the same way that Jeep's traffic matched when it sponsored the same button in the Daily Candy.

For those with deep pockets, Maserati produces a monthly e-newsletter that is as stylish as its cars. The company has also been sending out stand-alone offers promoting the GranTurismo. Maybe in another lifetime I'll be able to afford one of these babies -- but in the meantime, it is a pleasure just looking at the email creative.

Audi has taken a completely different tack by promoting culture in its email drops: in this case, Lang Lang, a Chinese piano virtuoso who is the official Audi ambassador during his tour of the U.S. The newsletters really stand out, as Audi downplays its own presence, so instead of cars, we have images of the master pianist. It works for me.

And finally, at two ends of the spectrum we have, on one hand, Kia doing full-page promotions with AllRecipes.com. And on the other hand, the true masters of the email art form: Lexus. I just wish everyone spent the time and trouble that Lexus does on its email communications. Beautifully designed month after month, the Lexus materials are the standard by which everyone else is judged. And everyone else comes up short.

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