Getting Brave With Testing and Triggered Automation

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The pains of buying a used car need little introduction. There’s the trial of finding the right one, followed by the tribulations of haggling and financing, not to mention the worry that you’ll end up with a dud.

But Carspring, the United Kingdom’s first online pre-owned car dealership, promises to pair you with the perfect car without the inherent anxieties of vehicular speed-dating. The startup has automated a customer journey that’s designed to make the entire process as smooth as possible. And with rave reports on consumer-review sites, it’s clear that customers appreciate the commitment to communication.

Leaning into a learning curve

Last year on Valentine’s Day, Carspring sent out their first email campaign, and that was all it took to convince the business that email marketing could work for them. Selling cars online requires a lot of moving parts, but with an open rate of 31%, the team was intrigued.

“Looking back on it, it wasn’t the snazziest email ever, but it was really effective,” says Joe Newman, copy editor and email marketing manager. “We saw conversion rates on our sites around 3.8%, which is really good for us when you compare it to our other channels.”

Their open rates continue to skyrocket and are double that of the industry average, reaching 25% or higher.

The move also freed up a lot of manpower. “With MailChimp, email marketing doesn’t require development work,” says co-founder and chief marketing officer Peter Baumgart. “The creatives take control. The developers can focus on making our product better.”

Branching out into segmentation

While tinkering around with A/B testing, Carspring capitalized on a naturally occurring segment in the car industry: brand loyalty. “We see conversion rates as high as 10% on the site as a result of those,” Joe says.

Manual segmentation of a customer’s interest in car brands and a retargeting subject line like “[Name], still looking for a BMW?”, for example, worked well with customers who’d entered their interest on a dream car wish list form.

But they didn’t stop there. Everything from big-picture content to more granular details like From names was subject to relentless testing. “Be a bit brave with it,” Joe suggests. “Prepare yourself to occasionally fail.”

The team hasn’t dived into all the data yet, but they’re planning on more testing, including segmenting by other groups like price brackets, which is information that customers provide when submitting a finance application. In the future, Carspring plans to use MailChimp automation to send wish list emails to people who are looking for specific makes and models, too.

Pleased with MailChimp’s success so far, Carspring decided to migrate their transactional emails to MailChimp—and that unlocked a whole world of triggered automation, Peter says.

A great journey leads to great open rates

A customer’s journey through Carspring is so well-oiled, it’s easy to forget all the cogs that help it chug along. But from the moment a customer reserves a car, they instantly receive emails about where their purchase is in the rigorous preparation process. Being kept in the loop has yielded astronomical open rates, Joe says, with some reaching as high as 80%.

Down the line, Carspring hopes to use those engagement rates to cross-sell other products that are critical to car ownership, such as insurance packages. But making sure customers feel cared for remains a top priority.

As Peter sums it up: “This is only the beginning.”

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