Combating ‘digital fatigue’ at the dealership


A while back, I came across a blog post on digital fatigue from dealership marketing company Outsell.

The company noted that a proliferation of emails has made us more willing to ignore some of them. The amount of email content consumers are getting had trended upward for a few years, and then the pandemic exacerbated the trend, Outsell said.

It got me thinking about how much more time I’ve spent over the last 18 months ignoring or deleting a glut of new marketing emails — some that I intentionally signed up to receive, some I did not — without opening them.

The problem for dealerships and their marketers is that if consumers ignore their emails, over time the emails might redirect to a spam folder, said Matt Kristo, Outsell’s director of analytics services. Or, worse, a recipient could get fed up and unsubscribe, meaning a dealership can no longer talk to that customer.

The key to getting consumers to interact with email is not to flood their inboxes with more messages, Kristo said, but to target them with smarter communications that line up with what they might need from a dealership.

Outsell developed a model in spring 2020 — it was in testing before the pandemic — to better predict the odds that a consumer will open an email message and interact with its content. It slows down the pipeline if too many go unopened and attempts to tailor messages to what consumers most likely want to see.

“That buying cycle is so long, and people aren’t always interested in hearing from their dealership,” Kristo told me. “You could go to Target three times in a week, and that wouldn’t be crazy. You’re not going to be buying three cars a week. So it is kind of a balancing act you have to do with email, in particular, about only sending when you think the person’s actually going to be open to that message.”

Has your dealership in some way experienced digital fatigue during the pandemic? Send me an email and share your story.

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