5 Text Message Marketing Ideas for Dealerships

A comprehensive marketing plan includes all the marketing outreach programs and communiqués for the year (or beyond) across multiple media. For example, social media marketing might include both paid advertising as well as outline potential posts that will be included via the dealership’s social media accounts.

While social media and online communiqués are important marketing resources, there is one other virtual communications tool that dealerships shouldn’t ignore: text message marketing. These marketing messages are delivered directly to the consumer to ensure the dealership remains visible and to its target audience. Here are 5 text message marketing ideas for dealerships to keep them on the radar of customers:

  • Sales promotions
  • Coupons
  • Service reminders
  • Appointment reminders
  • Links to new models

Use Text Message Marketing with Purpose

Text message communiqués are different from email communication. With email, the content could be longer and include embedded imagery.

Text messages need to be brief. If there is an image, a link needs to be included in the text for the recipient to view the image.

Another crucial difference between text and email is that the recipient could be charged for text messages they receive. The amount depends on their cell phone service agreement and/or their data plan.

For this reason, some customers might not want to receive text messages or they might limit the recipients from whom they receive these texts. Businesses must allow customers to opt in or out of text messages. This provides more control to the consumer in how they receive messages from a business.

Car dealerships that offer text message updates should allow customers to choose whether or not they receive information and updates from the dealership via text. a text that the recipient doesn’t expect could result in their account being charged and/or the customer feeling bombarded or frustrated. Laws also guide text messages. Always ask for the customer’s permission.

Give customers the opportunity to choose their preferred option for receiving communiqués related to promotions, events, coupons, etc. In addition, some businesses let customers check what type of messages they wish to receive.

Text Message Marketing Ideas

Five Text Message Ideas

Car dealerships new to marketing to consumers via text messages might not know what type of messages are best for this medium. Again, text messages should be brief. Don’t send long and detailed messages. In addition, some text messages could offer a link to provide the customer with additional information.

Sales Promotions

Text related to sales promotions can help provide information to consumers about what models might be available for promotional APR or lease deals. Dealerships also could focus texts on models that are offered at a lower price.

The text content should be brief and concise. Provide a link that customers can click for additional information or to inquire about the sale.


Dealerships might offer coupons or discounts related to services like tire rotations or an oil change. To take advantage of the offer, customers might need to show a coupon or code to the dealership.

Text messages can include a special sales code that the customer can show at the dealership or even link to a particular coupon with a barcode. Just make sure that recipients know that the dealership is sending the message; there are many text scams.

Service Reminders

Dealerships also could offer customers the option to receive reminders about when their car is due for specific services. For example, a customer might receive a text reminder to alert them that their car needs an oil change or that it’s time to have their brakes checked.

It’s easy to forget routine maintenance needs, and text messages can provide a quick reminder to customers to schedule an appointment.

Appointment Reminders

Text message marketing also can be used by car dealerships to send customers appointment reminders. Again, it’s easy to forget appointments and a quick text message can ensure that these commitments aren’t neglected.

For the dealership, appointment reminders might lessen cancellations or no-shows. Ask customers if they wish to ‘opt in’ to text message service or appointment reminders.

Links to New Models

Text message marketing can help the dealership promote new models. If a customer purchased a particular model, they might be interested in a newer model (especially if their vehicle is several years old).

Dealerships also might link to a page related to the new model or to an experience that lets the customer explore the model; for example, dealerships might offer an augmented reality showroom that invites virtual exploration. The text message also could let customers know that the car can be experienced in augmented reality.

Text Message Marketing Ideas

Use Text Message Marketing to Poll Customers, Too

Car dealerships can utilize text message marketing to gauge customer satisfaction. Dealerships can send customers a link via text to a survey related to their experience buying a car or having their vehicle serviced at the dealership.

These surveys can be quick for the consumer to complete, but the information from these surveys provides the dealership with a means to gauge satisfaction related to the shopping or service experience. This feedback can help the dealership make necessary changes or discover what works.

What Not to Text

While there are numerous ways that dealerships can tailor their text message marketing messaging to better reach consumers, these messages also could be a huge fail if they are overused or designed incorrectly.

Again, text messages shouldn’t be long. Keep the text brief and include a link for consumers to access information about sales, coupons, etc. Long messages could be ignored.

Sending too many text messages also could get the dealership blocked. While text messages are a convenient and quick means to stay in front of the consumer, misusing this medium could be annoying to the recipient. Text message marketing should be used for sales, coupons and other immediate updates (like appointment reminders).

Dealerships also should give consumers the option about whether or not they wish to receive text messages. Some consumers are charged when they receive a text message, but others just don’t like text messages. Let consumers choose the way they want to receive information.

Text Message Marketing Ideas

Not Texting? Consider Offering the Option

Not all dealerships have wired into the text message marketing method. If the dealership doesn’t market via text, now is a great time to begin this marketing outreach. Dealerships can work with a marketing professional to roll out a text message program.

Start asking customers about whether they wish to receive text updates and what text messages they would like to receive. For example, dealerships could give customers the option to receive only messages related to service appointments or they might let customers choose from multiple options (like sales information, new model updates and coupons).

Dealerships also could ask customers if they would like to receive text information related to feedback surveys. Some customers are happy to participate, but others don’t want to be bothered.

Text message marketing is yet another medium that allows car dealerships to remain visible to current and potential customers. These messages are relayed directly to the customer’s phone, and the brevity of the message means that customers aren’t bombarded with large amounts of sales information.

Combined with more detailed email marketing communiqués, text message marketing can enhance outreach and help ensure that a customer never misses a sale, appointment or update. Text messages provide fast and immediate communication that might help boost foot traffic in the dealership and, hopefully, increase sales.