Plain text or HTML were the only options, with no drag and drop, no emojis, and only the most basic HTML email features. - Dusty Blechman from Adventure Subaru on life before Parcel
Some industries are slower to adopt modern email technology compared to others. Dusty from Adventure Subaru noted that email creation tools felt archaic in his own industry, with vehicle dealerships. For the most part, email creation and communication originate from common CRM tools in this industry, allowing sales associates to manage buyers at multiple stages of their journey. However, these tools often result in very basic emails, comparable to plain text in design, due to a lack of drag-and-drop modular building or robust HTML features.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, Adventure Subaru is a small mom-and-pop community business. Dusty has over 37-years of experience in the automotive industry and wears various hats including system administration, marketing operations, dealer operations, and community partnerships. Dusty's role is pivotal in supporting the public-facing employees with the tools they need to build customer relationships.
Aside from over 1,000 one-off car sales, Adventure Subaru services 10,000 vehicles a year, and retaining customer relationships is a key aspect of their business. How communication is sent and received to and from these customers is important to how the community views the business.
Without any prior experience with owning and delivering email communication, developing emails became one of Dusty's many hats as part of his role at Adventure Subaru. Dusty researched email marketing communication amongst dealerships across the USA and felt that 99% of them didn’t know about HTML email and it’s capabilities. Based on the current market, it was clear that this was an opportunity to excel for Adventure Subaru.
Dusty, self-taught and always eager to learn, mentioned that when he first started creating emails, he found the initial learning curve quite steep. He had to grasp terminology, understand snippets and components, and rely on trial and error to succeed. Not to mention making the most of community resources.
Throughout Dusty’s learnings, he leaned on Mark Robbins and Nicole Merlin for ways to approach building emails. Looking back, Dusty’s words of wisdom would be to create a guidebook for yourself to keep track of what you did and why you did it, including links and sources where appropriate.
Write [notes] directly into your code with comments alongside the lines they reference. My base templates are full of css and html comments. I don't have to go searching for notes when they're always right in front of me. It might look messy, but don't let that deter you. Do things the way that will work best for you. Create a publication version without comments and you're ready to go.
It takes time to craft a repository of what works and what doesn’t, and with that trial and error comes the requirement of patience! At the end of the day, Dusty persisted and created a solid baseline of knowledge that has now enabled Adventure Subaru to have some pretty great emails.
I don't write anything fancy. It's all single column, text, images, and merge codes, so there is less to break. I might have 75 current email templates in use, but they're all based on one design, and I can easily add or remove sections to fit what I need. It's a good start of initial and basic responses. There's a lot more to do, including training on how to use the new processes.
Coming from a team with great success from simple text-based emails at Parcel, we support Dusty’s approach to avoid over-complication!
Today, Dusty can confidently say deploying new templates is a piece of cake. A true success in our books!
Parcel has helped Dusty to simplify the process of creating and maintaining emails. His time spent on design elements and layout is 5% of what it was before because of their usage of components. By creating a design system built with components, Dusty can open his base template and add unique components per email — leaving just the copy that needs to be customized. And by further baking in notes to his templates, when it’s time to jump back into a design that he might not have worked with in a while, he doesn’t have to go searching for notes when they are now always right in front of him!