More than ever, marketers across all industries need to understand what types of marketing efforts drive ROI for their business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. A number of tactics need to be utilized and tested for their ability to drive qualified leads that translate into sales.
For example, in automotive marketing, Internet marketing is a largely effective channel that dealers can use to connect with potential customers. But within this digital channel exists a number of media and tactics: First you have the website itself, followed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Email and Social Media Marketing (SMM). It is rare to see only one of these tactics being utilized. It is more common to see an integrated effort across all of these tactics. Of course Social Media Marketing is the new kid on the block. As this article will call out, it is the channel that dealers must learn and optimize if they are to achieve success in today’s customer-driven, social business environment.
What’s most important for an auto dealer is the ability to be found when a potential car dealer is in the buying process. We call this kind of marketing acquisition marketing. This consists of finding new customers. It’s also important to maintain relationships once they’re established. We call this kind of marketing retention.
Social Media Marketing presents the opportunity for auto dealers to attract new customers as well as manage relationships with customers that help them to retain these customers for future purchases. It seems like a no-brainer that dealers would invest heavily in this area. However; new research undertaken by Mongoose Metrics shows that dealers are still lacking in terms of their Social Media Marketing sophistication.
Jeff Tirey, Mongoose Metrics CMO and Founding Partner headed up the automotive research. Tirey uses a new type of marketing called “source code marketing” where he analyzes a company’s website via a crawler to identify what types of marketing technologies a given company is using. Tirey can see for example what analytics package a company uses, if they use chat, marketing automation, ad retargeting or social media.
For the automotive market, Tirey analyzed approximately 17,700 dealer websites in the U.S. for the technologies mentioned above. Upon evaluating auto dealers’ performance with using Social Media Marketing, it appears there is room for improvement.
In terms of social media adoption, the results showed that:
- Facebook owns the largest market share of auto dealers with 6,628 dealers (38%) having at least some presence on this popular network.
- Twitter owns the second-largest share with 4,164 (24%) of dealers participating in Twitter marketing.
- YouTube showed the third largest adoption rate with 4,066 (23%) of dealers utilizing video to market.
- In terms of Google+, 1,344 (8%) of dealers have a Google+ page.
- Only 270 (2%) of dealerships had a LinkedIn company page.
- Facebook and Twitter are commonly used together with 3,940 (22%) of dealers utilizing both networks to market.
- Facebook marketing among dealers is more concentrated on the east coast, Midwest and west coast and most dealers have between 5-222 fans and only < 0.58% engagement.
- Twitter marketing is also more concentrated geographically on the East coast, Midwest and West coast. The average dealer Twitter account had between 3-144 followers and over time the average follower count tends to stagnate.
A strategy for using Social Media effectively with other digital channels is needed if the automotive industry wishes to see success through this channel. Consumers do not want to be sold but rather connect with brands and develop relationships over time. Once a consumer connects with a brand and develops a positive opinion about that brand, a relationship develops. That relationship may lead to a sale at some point in the consumer’s buying cycle.
Some starting suggestions for improving social media marketing among auto dealers are as follows:
- Capitalize on the low-hanging fruit: your current customers.
- Ask them to connect with you
- Provide engaging community or otherwise helpful information (not sales-driven).
- Understand your audience. Who buys from you? You can run a targeted ad by location and your specific demographic criteria via Facebook to grow your following.
- Make sure your dealership has a professional LinkedIn Company Page. Connect with all existing and prospective customers via LinkedIn. It’s as simple as asking for their business card and sending a request for them to like your page.
- If you’re having a hard time obtaining new fans or followers, you can offer some sort of small incentive such as a free oil change or a chance to win something like an auto-detailing package to drive action.
- Integrate all of your promotions such as TV, radio, print, email with social to extend your reach and frequency.
The bottom line is to be focused on engaging the customer versus selling them. Do this and your social media marketing efforts will be more effective.