In the digital realm, new developments and possibilities emerge every day. Subscribe to learn about the latest updates and insights long before your competition.

All Posts

5 Must Have Ingredients of an Automotive Advertising Ad

It was Spring and I assigned an artist we’d just hired to design an email template for our automotive clients. Eager to please, he dove in and, before the day was over, proudly unveiled art covered in flowers and – no kidding – bluebirds.

“Are we selling gardening tools?” I said. “Where are the cars?”

My newbie had committed the classic mistake of automotive advertising, especially in email design: He forgot that we’re selling cars.

Let’s stop making that mistake! Here’s a quick, to-the-point list of the essential ingredients of Automotive Sales Email Templates. Follow these rules that we require for the millions of emails we deploy every month, and you’ll see your opens and click throughs increase dramatically.

Exactly what a successful ad must do

Here are the logical steps that any successful ad – Retail, Branding, Direct Response, etc. – must follow, in order:

  1. Attention
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Proof
  5. Close

These components are a must in automotive emails! If your ad isn’t hitting all of these elements, in order, it’s not a working ad. It may be beautiful, perhaps worthy of hanging in the Louvre. But it’s not an effective ad. Let’s spend just a moment looking at these 5 steps:


Your ad is D.O.A. if no one looks at it. The first thing a great ad absolutely must do is get the target’s attention. In a world where people are exposed to upwards of 5,000 advertisements and brand exposures every day, your ad has to leap out from the crowd. This is especially true with email ads, in which more than 65% are opened on a tiny mobile screen. You have less than 3 seconds to grab the prospect’s attention.

David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, proved that the only way to do this is with compelling art. Always put an eye-catching picture at the top of your ad.

Images of youth, beauty, action, sex, family, love, travel, power, nature … think of the things that stop you in your tracks.

Automobiles are beautiful. They’re sexy, powerful, youthful, active, modern – and a hundred other attributes that capture the eye and make today’s consumer go, “Oh. Wow!” Your OEM spends multi-millions of dollars on vehicle styling to steal the consumer’s heart faster than Juliet stole Romeo’s. Lead your ads with compelling automotive art.

Use the OEM’s monthly promotional graphics. First, the factory requires it for co-op. Second, because it introduces the event that leads to Step 2: Interest. If the art doesn’t include a vehicle lineup, or a beauty shot of your top sellers, include that in the ad’s header.

Most dealers insist that their Logo appear at the very top of the ad, above the header.  Even though that’s not really essential – the dealership’s i.d., by itself, isn’t going to sell any cars – we understand why dealers insist, and it’s okay. Put the logo up there – and the phone number, too, if you want. But, the beautiful, eye-catching picture absolutely must be right there with it if you want any chance for the ad to earn a click-through.


Now, you have the consumer’s attention. You have less than eight seconds to earn his/her interest. Less than 8 seconds, or they’re gone. How do you do that?

You have to make an offer! What do people care about? What are they seeking? What motivates people?

Sex, prestige, money, health, power, love, attention, comfort, security, appreciation. That’s what everybody wants. Jim Morrison, lead singer for the Doors, said, “We want the world and we want it now!” Today’s consumer wants what he wants when he wants it. Instant gratification is the key to capturing interest. (Instant gratification is also drives “urgency,” which is the Number One ingredient to the close.)

Turn your neighbors green with envy!

All for 0% APR this week only!

Ultimate Power is yours at $5,000 under MSRP! Now through Labor Day!

Sign and Drive! Drive in Luxury for $0 Down this 4th of July Weekend!

You get the idea.


Interest only goes so far. Your prospect will wriggle right off that hook unless you make him want what you’re selling. This is where benefits and features go to work.

Where you created interest with the major benefit (sex, prestige, etc.) in the headline, your ad must complete the story, and nail the prospect down with detailed information.

Answer the questions: What am I getting? What’s in it for me?

This is the job of price/point advertising.
1. What are the benefits of the vehicle?
2. What features deliver the benefits?


Features: All leather, dual A/C, Moonroof, Bose® Sound System, 16-way power seats; USB, Interactive everything, heated/cooled seats, walnut dash, heads up display, 12 cup-holders.


Features: Cummins Diesel. Dually! 4x4! 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Paddle shifters! Heavy Duty Payload. Hauling Package. Off-Road!


Features: Top NHTSA Safety Rating, Rated most reliable mid-size today by J.D. Powers, Anti-Theft system, Highest crash test rating in its class, Lane-change technology, Anti-collision technology.


Features: 50 mpg city. EcoBoost, Plug-In Hybrid Technology. All Electric. Largest capacity hybrid on the market!


Features: Foot touch tailgate, 300 cubic yards of storage, the most in its class, Remote start, AWD, paddle shifters! Siri, Hands free Bluetooth, OnStar, 12 cup-holders.

The features prove the benefit. In retail price/point, you’ll often simply list the features and know that the consumer will relate them to the benefits.

Use pictures! Pictures of the interior of the car tell an incredible story. Ergonomics, high tech design, sexy lighting, luxurious upholstery – for many consumers, their vehicle is more comfortable, and more rewarding than their own home. Use art to tell this story. At ePUSH, nearly every vehicle offer includes an exterior and at least one interior shot of the vehicle.


Your prospect is not going to believe you until you prove it! It’s part of sales. A buyer won’t buy if he doesn’t believe you. So, prove it.

Dealership reputation, years in business, awards (see Desire), money-back guarantees, 10-year/100,000-mile warranties, lifetime service plans, free roadside assistance, free loaner cars, accreditations, certifications, testimonials, other forms of third-party credibility, even finance disclaimers all prove that your offer is legitimate. Include them in the ad.

Don’t be afraid of disclaimers! Don’t short-change them, either. Disclaimers prove your offer! If your offer is strong, the disclaimer will back it up. Plus they’re required by law. Regulation M and Regulation Z disclaimers must appear with finance and/or lease offers. You don’t have to show them in mile-high type, but don’t make them so small that your prospect thinks you’re hiding something. Use disclaimers to prove that your offer is real. Some states like California have their own disclaimer requirements. Observe them!

Close - (Action!)

So, you’ve done all the work: You grabbed the consumer’s attention, won that kernel of interest, built desire, proved your claims.

And … nothing happens, simply because you didn’t tell him what to do!

EVERY AD, must have a call to action!

Tell the consumer:

  1. What to do
  2. When to do it
  3. Where to do it
  4. Why! Why! Why!
  • Come in today! It ends Sunday!
  • Call now! Operators are standing by!
  • Come in now for best selection.
  • Limited Time Offer. Call, visit or log on now.

Use urgency! Urgency is your biggest Why to act now. You have to get them off the couch! People are busy; they’re tired; they don’t want to do anything different than what they always do; they don’t want to think; they don’t want to work at – anything. Your call to action must give a compelling reason why he has to act now!

So, as I gently explained to my new artist:

  • Grab Attention with pictures of beautiful, sexy, powerful cars
  • Build Interest with an exclusive, compelling offer
  • Build Desire with smart price/pointing that lays out each vehicle’s benefits and features
  • Prove that what you’re saying is True
  • Tell that prospect to Act! Now!

Here’s a little test for your next ad. At ePUSH, we put every ad to this test:

Does it sizzle?

You’ve heard it before: Sell the sizzle, not the steak! Are your cars sexy? Are they loaded with sexy benefits and features? Do they entice with power, security, comfort, instant gratification?

Will it sell cars?

More than anything, the ad has to motivate car buyers to take action. If the ad is “beautiful” but doesn’t sell cars, then it’s not beautiful at all; it’s ugly. If an ad looks ugly as sin but it sells cars, then it’s really absolutely beautiful.

What about this ad works, what doesn’t?

Does the ad contain all the essential elements? Is the image at the top compelling? Does the offer hook the reader? Do the benefits and features lever the reader to want what what you’re selling? Is there sufficient proof to back up the offers? Is the call to action clear and urgent?

Finally, Is it Right?

Is the information correct? Are the dates correct? Are the offers correct? Are the images correct? Are the legal notifications correct? At ePUSH, it’s our professional responsibility to create and deploy perfect ads. For us – and for you – nothing less than perfect is acceptable.

5 Advantages of Email Marketing Guide

Sean Marra
Sean Marra
CEO of ePush! With over 20 years of experience in automotive, Sean’s fearless approach and instincts put him at the forefront of the industry when it comes to Digital Marketing.

Related Posts

Behavioral Data Is Ideal For Automotive Targeting Of Prospects

A longtime client and I were having lunch earlier this year when he voiced a complaint I’ve heard dozens ...
Sean Marra Jul 23, 2018 10:27:54 AM

5 Must Have Ingredients of an Automotive Advertising Ad

It was Spring and I assigned an artist we’d just hired to design an email template for our automotive cli...
Sean Marra Jul 2, 2018 9:00:23 AM

Marketing to Millennials: 6 Ways to Effectively Engage

With a population of over 75 million, Millennials are a target market that cannot be ignored. In fact, cu...
Eric Thornsbrough Jun 25, 2018 5:36:42 AM