Is your automotive repair shop’s email newsletter performing with all the pep of a clapped-out 3-cylinder Subaru Justy? Try these top ten tips to supercharge it to Bugatti Veyron levels!

1. Always obtain permission first – Permission to send an email newsletter is not equated to simply showing up in your shop to get an oil and filter change. Email best practices demand that the customer provides you with direct and specific permission that can be recorded and permanently archived.

2. Lay out expectations at opt-in – You must be very clear as to what you’ll be sending and how often, and then allow the customer to adjust these settings at will in your Preference Center. Very few of your customers will want to receive daily updates on the state of head gasket blowouts and EGR failures.

3. Make unsubscribing easy – Your unsubscribe link must be prominently featured on each and every email newsletter you send and when you receive a request to opt-out you must honor it immediately. Never resend an email newsletter to a customer who has opted out or you will be committing a crime.

4. Personalize your emails – Your Prius customer is really not interested in your special offer on draining the water separators in Cummins Diesels. Each customer is seeking some service from you that is in some way special to their needs and unique to their vehicle. Don’t paint them all with the same mechanical brush.

5. Master time – You have all of the customer’s repair records and you know exactly when they’re going to be due for a new set of shock absorbers, belts and air filter. Don’t just keep that information to yourself – leverage your email newsletters as ticklers to remind your customers that necessary maintenance is due.

6. Learn the finer points of fonts – In case you don’t know already, Comic Sans is the typography equivalent of the Yugo… better yet, the Trabant. Maintaining a simple yet elegant typographic style in your email marketing is by far the best strategy. You can’t go wrong by using one of the fonts that are universally installed on your customers’ computers, such as Arial, Tahoma, Verdana or Times New Roman.

7. Make your email readable with “images off” – Many of your customers are reading your email through email clients or mobile devices that do not show the images by default (so your “swirling wrenches” animated gif is going to be invisible to them). Make sure that your image alt tags are descriptive and assign default colors to each image so that your email doesn’t look like the wiring harness schematic for a Kenworth T700.

8. Keep your newsletters relevant & interesting – “The biggest excitement we’ve had was when quilt teacher Gladys accidentally pumped her 1973 Maverick full of diesel…” That is not the way to capture customers’ interests and reinforce their engagement with your auto repair shop. Your customers want to learn about what you can do to help save them money while keeping their vehicles safely on the road.

9. Solicit & promote testimonials – Don’t be shy. Ask for your customers to write in with their reactions to your services. Individually address the negative ones in order to win back your customers and use the positives in your email newsletters to show your clients that their peers are finding your mechanical work to be of prime quality.

10. Apply loyalty coupons – In case you’ve had your head (and the rest of your body) in the crankcase of a 500 cubic inch 1976 Eldo for a few years, there is a widespread economic malaise in this country and many of your customers are either unemployed or underemployed. What all of them have in common is that they want to save money, and providing repeat business discount coupons in your email newsletters is a great way to motivate them to keep coming back.

It’s not just Gladys’ 1973 Maverick that needs a whack of work, but your email marketing campaign as well. Tune it up for maximum performance now!