Auto dealership social media marketing might look like a beacon of hope to many brands. The reality is – it is a new way of framing your marketing strategy! Quite often, dealerships complain about the high cost per acquisition, competition, and commoditized brands. But, usually, these complaints do not account for the social media channels they use or the way they use them.
Common Marketing Channels in the Automotive Industry
Social media marketing for automotive industry is a relatively new phenomenon. Most marketers still remember the headlines like ‘At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce is the electric clock’ and ‘Think Small.’ While such ads did wonders in the 60s and the 70s, the same mediums do not create the same impact in the automotive industry. And yet, many auto dealerships continue to pour capital into the same old channels.
1. Print Ads: Local Newspapers, Magazines, and Trade Journals
In the USA, marketers still spend close to $25 billion a year on print advertising, and auto dealerships are a part of this trend. If you have spent a percentage of your marketing budget on print ads in the local newspaper, magazine, or trade journal, think about it – did it deliver results?
But, to what extent can you track the results of the print results? Most marketers will answer in terms of praise for the creative elements and the correlated uptick in sales. And even if you can track the results, there are always other more cost-effective mediums available to deliver a similar scale of reach and brand awareness with more visibility in results.
2. Radio Spots
Close to 7.3% of ad spends in the automotive marketing industry goes into radio ads. The rationale is often that people listen to the radio on their commutes. But that does not account for the changing habits, which include podcasts and audiobook consumption. Moreover, radio ads are still backed by the idea that they provide reach at a scale in the local community.
However, print and radio have the same set of problems – lack of visibility in the results. Moreover, there are issues like ad fatigue – where people start actively ignoring the content as soon as they realize it is an ad. You cannot target specific groups, and there is no room to retarget.
One of the lesser explored marketing communication mediums is – activation. An activation can include any form of marketing to create a physically accessible touchpoint in your target audience’s environment.
Activation campaigns like Ford’s ‘Try More’ and CarMax’s ‘Caring Tree’ have created waves in their local communities. However, for a local auto dealership, this might be an expensive strategy to pursue. You might still face issues with visibility in the results. Besides, each activation requires a special form of expertise since it becomes more of an event and less of a marketing program.
4. Inaccurately Clubbed ‘Digital’: Website, Social Media, Search & Display Ads
If you have ever clubbed websites, search & display ads, and social media marketing for automotive businesses – you might have committed the cardinal sin quite a few times! But, that is an industry-standard. So, you are not alone.
Using digital as an acronym for websites, social media, and PPC ads was great in the early 2000s because these channels were still evolving. However, today, with over 1.7 billion websites, 4.3 billion social media users, and over $160 billion spent in just display ads – we have crossed the threshold of infancy
Your website is like your digital identity hosting platforms, almost like a virtual version of your dealership. Your PPC campaigns can be an efficient medium to acquire leads in a short span. And your social media can be used as a channel to acquire leads, meet brand awareness goals, and even manage your online reputation.
The benefits of social media for automotive industry are manifold
Customer Experience Tracking: The Logical Approach to Marketing
You can look at different marketing communication channels and find reasons to back just about any one medium. The insight is – none of that should matter. The only decisive factor in this conversation is – what is your audience doing? And that begins with customer experience tracking.
1. What is Customer Experience Tracking?
The inbound marketing approach has shifted from a funnel of attract, convert, close, and delight to a flywheel of attracting, engaging, and delighting. However, the difference between the two is a secondary issue. The primary challenge is – do you know how are your customers discovering you? And that can be achieved only with customer experience tracking.
This approach tilts marketing from an exercise of pushing out messages to an activity of discovering what your customers are looking for. This way, you track the progression of a prospect:
- Prospects: These are people who are looking for high-level information that your offerings might solve.Important Channels: Website content, social media, and blogs.
- Visitors: These are people who have raised a flag and shown that they have an intent to engage with your brand by communicating with your social media posts, visiting your blogs, downloading your ebooks, or even subscribing to your newsletter.
- Important Channels: Request for Quotes, Landing Pages, CTAs, etc.
- Leads: Now that you have the intent clearly visible, you can use social media marketing for automotive selling, and ask your sales team to arrange a free test drive, a live post detailing the purchase process, and start ironing out the objections.
- Important Channels: Offers, Financing Options, Test Drives, etc.
- Customers: Congrats! These are people who are happy to buy the car and might even take a dealer-financing option.
- Important Channels: Post-Sales Services, Social Media, Website Content, etc.
- Brand Advocates: The process does not end when the customers have bought the car. Your dealership should be continuously offering service and assistance wherever necessary. That is how you earn referrals and get to provide after-sales services and repeat purchases.
2. How to Map the Customer Experience Journey for Your Dealership?
The next step focuses on deconstructing the customer experience journey. Here is a structured approach to achieve this:
- Make a buyer persona that defines your target audience in great detail.
- Create a list of all the problems relevant to your buyer persona’s daily life.
- Figure out the solutions to the problems that you can solve from this list.
- Locate the companies that offer similar solutions.
- Understand the most pressing issues in the customer experience journey – these would be objections that stop the prospect from becoming a lead, a lead from becoming a customer, and so on.
- Create a roadmap of deliverables you can use to provide solutions to these pressing issues.
That’s all! Use as much actual data as possible to construct this customer experience journey. Historical sales, customer feedback forms, and cookies are a great way to get started.
3. How to Decide the Marketing Mix Based on Buyer Journey?
Simon Kucher & Partners, a leading marketing & strategy consulting practice, has created a great sample that shows how a communication channel should interact with the buyer’s journey. You can check it here. Here is how it works out:
- Key Online Mediums: Social Media, Website, Configurators, and Marketplaces.
- Key Offline Mediums: Showroom, Activations, Call/Email Follow-Ups, and Test Drives.
- Progression: Information, Need, Test Drive, Configuration/Comparison, Financing, Insurance, Trade, and Purchase.
4. Optimizing for the Buyer Journey
Now that you know how your buyers progress through the decision-making process, you can optimize these three marketing assets and tactics to adapt to their needs:
- Website Optimization: Keep the story-telling only to the point where it helps in establishing trust. Beyond that, add more blogs, FAQs, online calculators, and chat boxes that help ensure every buyer’s need is addressed. Downloadable model catalogs can be a great way to provide all the technical information without investing in advanced visualizations on the website.
- Social Media Amplification: Amplification is a concept deeply inherent in social media. In essence, your reach is the number of followers your followers have. This is where auto dealership social media marketing can start exponentially changing your results. If you are using Inrelay for smart employee advocacy, you will witness greater amplification of your marketing content.
- Remarketing: If your competition is still advertising on radio and print, you have room to grow. You can use Facebook or Google Ads to remarket your content to the people who have been through the early stages of the customer experience journey.
Getting an Edge: Benefits of Social Media for the Automotive Industry
The status quo does not deliver growth consistently. That is why your focus should be more on the benefits of social media for the automotive industry and how you can harness them.
1. Cost-Effective Brand Awareness
Let’s assume you are in a market with a population of approximately 50,000 target customers. You employ about 60 people. 70% of these agree to be a part of your employee advocacy program, bringing your employee advocacy program member-strength to 42 people. Each one of these 42 people has just 100 exclusive followers on social media platforms.
Every time they share a post you have designed in alignment with your customer experience journey – you are reaching out to nearly 4200 people at once. That is approximately 8.4% of the total addressable audience in your market. The best part is that this entire traffic can be tracked, managed, and retargeted for brand awareness goals.
2. Lead Generation, Qualification, and Promotion
If you have 1,000 followers on Instagram with a 5% engagement rate with ten posts a month – your marketing team is sifting through 500 comments.
An employee advocacy program scales the issue and solves it at the root. Your 42 employees working on the employee advocacy program will also have the right responses crafted by your marketing team to use auto dealership social media marketing and respond to the 10-15 comments each one of them gets on the published posts.
The comments and messages with the highest intent can then be passed on to your sales team for scheduling test drives. Even if just 1% of 4200 people respond to a post and come for a test drive – you have 42 qualified leads.
3. End-to-End Customer Relationship Management
CRMs are usually a great investment. However, they can become a little too mechanical for customers. To the point where the way they ignore the ads in newspapers and on the radio, they might ignore the emails you send. But the customers who reach out to you on social media generally have an immediate need, have unsuccessfully been through your escalation matrix, and might need urgent help.
Your employee advocacy program can identify and deal with this issue at the very point it occurs. Inrelay allows you to create different categories of content. Your employees can use these categories to provide personalized responses to customer queries – as they occur. And this can be designed in line with the marketing team’s policies.
4. Employee Advocacy: Amplifying Results
Our research shows that over 90% of employees are happy to recommend their employers on social media. Over 92% of people read online reviews before making a purchase decision.
By engaging in employee advocacy programs, you are letting your employees take more ownership at work and help your dealership establish its credibility using social media for automotive businesses.
5. Cross-Selling and Upselling
Check the social media profile of any professional sports team. You will find fans of competing teams passing commentary on how their team is better. Imagine – how would people reading these comments react if those making recommendations were credible professionals and provided fact-based suggestions? That has evolved employee advocacy in action.
Such cross-selling and upselling opportunities are missed even with the most sophisticated CRM tools. But, when employees are incentivized and equipped to focus on keywords, posts, and leads in their social media circle of influence, they can help you utilize each one of these instances.
6. Competition Tracking
You can use tools like Agorapulse and Brandwatch to track your competition. But, even with these tools, you will need someone to track and respond to the alerts continuously. Inrelay solves this by helping your marketing team schedule the posts for your brand – so one task is off their list. Then, with the help of different content categories, your employees can be equipped to respond to the competition’s posts. Using this tactic can give you an edge if your competitors use social media and do not respond to customer complaints and queries quickly.
7. Content Pipeline for Top-of-Mind Awareness
Inrelay was designed to solve the biggest challenges in social media for automotive industry. And one of those challenges is – creating a content calendar and sticking to the schedule.
With only one social media account, there are only so many types of posts you can publish. For instance – your dealership can only make one or two videos about how employee-friendly the workplace is. But, with an employee advocacy program, you have dozens of employees ready to push content. This gives you access to a broader range of topics to focus on.
Moreover, you can schedule posts on Inrelay and never miss a designated date for a post. Here is a list of holidays and observances you can use to schedule posts well in advance.
Social media marketing for automotive businesses has become a definitive channel you cannot ignore. Not because it gives reach but because it is an essential part of the customer experience journey for your target audience. Employee advocacy is a catalyst to social media, and Inrelay makes it easier to get the results.
Click here to talk to one of our employee advocacy experts and discover how Inrelay can help you!
You can find the prices for Inrelay here. Make sure you take into account these factors:
a. We do not have a lock-in period. Use Inrelay till you get the results!
b. The Ultimate Subscription gives you access to Creative and Strategy services every month. Without agency retainers, this can dramatically lower your cost per acquisition.
c. Inrelay costs less than the average cost of two leads.
They might use it very soon. But that is irrelevant. Your marketing team or agency can still use Inrelay and start your employee advocacy program. Your goal should be to start early and develop an authentic brand voice in your market.
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