Auto dealership social media marketing has different meanings for different people in the industry. For those who have been successfully using it, social media marketing is a great way to build a brand and generate leads. However, for several others, it does not work.
With all the data in place, a good product portfolio, and sufficient resources, social media marketing should theoretically work for every dealership. If your social media marketing for automotive business has not delivered the targeted results – you are at the right place.
In this post, we will dissect the key reasons why social media marketing often does not work, get to the strategies that can help lead generation, and finally discover the secret sauce – how to amplify the results of your social media practices.
8 Reasons Why Automotive Social Selling Plans Fail
If you run an industry-wide diagnostics drill, here is what you will discover among the dealerships where auto dealership social media marketing is not delivering results
1. Strategy – Category Mismatch
Lead generation and social media marketing are often bridged by the same three channels – content, email, and activations. You can switch between strategies, but you have to ensure your strategy matches your category. For example, if you are using email for luxury sales or events for entry-level vehicles – you should reconsider your approach.
2. Suboptimal Landing Page
If you have a landing page with a cluttered layout, unclear headlines, chunks of content, and is asking for too much information – you might have an obvious problem. First, identify the number of leads you generate and the number of leads that convert at your landing page. A disproportionate gap might be a sign of trouble, i.e. a suboptimal landing page.
3. Unclear CTA and Value Proposition
Do you know that you can get everything right in your automotive social selling campaign and still not generate leads? This is because the very definition of leads implies the meaning that you are leading them onto something. And that something has to be clearly defined in terms of its value to the prospect.
Instead of focusing on the how, focus on the why – as Simon Sinek would say. And to make the navigation process easier, use a clear CTA that tells the lead what to do next and what to expect hereon.
4. Missed Focus on Mobile
Over 40% of the traffic in the USA originates from mobile devices. Many performance marketing specialists focus on the point of conversion – where do my leads go to search for information? And quite frequently, they discover desktops and office PCs. If you take this approach, you are focusing much later in the lead’s discovery process. The first query is often on the phone, and it has higher intent of conversions. So, you cannot afford to miss mobile traffic if your focus is on maximizing relevant leads.
5. Unattractive Offers
This insight builds on the idea of matching your strategy with your category. Social media marketing for automotive businesses can deliver results if you are putting out the right incentives.
If your customers are mass affluent Americans, they might care more about the value proposition of your offerings than an extra 10% off on the ex-showroom price. You will get such insights only if you drill down enough to understand your customers’ core problems and design incentive structures.
6. Targeting Unqualified Leads
Maximum traffic in automotive social selling, by design, does not guarantee maximum conversions.
If you are not qualifying leads at every stage of your marketing funnel – you are paying more for leads that might never convert. For example, let’s assume your sales team is very personable, and hence your YouTube ads generate good traffic. But, most of this traffic consists of people aged over 60 years, and you are selling SUVs. So, while you might still make a sale or two, you cannot maximize the value per lead. And once you start qualifying your leads, you will first see a drop in traffic as well as the cost per acquisition.
7. Buying Lead Databases
Many email distribution platforms like MailChimp actively work against purchased lead databases. You can employ lead generation services or run affiliate programs. But, by buying lead databases, you will land at the same problem as mentioned earlier – unqualified leads. No matter how cost-effective the database seems, it cannot be the basis for running an effective lead generation program.
8. Your Brand is Not Trustworthy Enough
This is not about the automobile brand you provide. But the brand of your dealership. A brand would be a distinct, relevant, and reliable entity. And quite frequently, it is a matter of a checklist.
Your website should be safe, your copy must be tested, and you should have sufficient social validation. Even then, social media marketing for automotive businesses might not yield immediate results. But, if you consistently keep up with the practices, you will see the customer perception shift.
Using Auto Dealership Social Media Marketing for Lead Generation
Now that we have uncovered the potential drawbacks curtailing your social media marketing for automotive industry initiatives let’s focus on things that work. Here are some strategies that have been tested across the industry:
1. Creating Lead Magnets
A case study, whitepaper, special offer, referral code, or eBook is not a lead magnet. You might have seen them being proposed as lead magnets, but that definition begins at the wrong stage.
Go back to the drawing board and understand who is your lead. For example, an individual with two cars, full insurance, and a great relationship with his dealer might not be ideal for you. But someone who just got a new job and has shifted to the town with a decent credit score can be a hot lead.
After you define the lead, understand the full map of challenges that stand between this lead and a sale. Then, your lead magnet will be a valuable deliverable that will solve the lead’s core problem and promote her to the next stage in the customer journey. Now, this lead magnet can take the form of a case study, whitepaper, special offer, free consultation, referral code, or an eBook.
Do not focus on the medium. Instead, focus on the solution and then offer it in the form of a dedicated medium. That will save your efforts from blindly producing marketing collateral.
2. Establish Social Proof
Even if you are selling an entry-level car, you are selling a $15k-$18k product that will be used for several years. So from a buyers’ standpoint, you will have a relationship for several years. That is why the bigger dealerships keep growing – they have the resources, brand, and relationships that keep delivering recurring revenues.
Establishing social proof often takes years. Your Google My Business page should be optimized, Better Business Bureau rankings should be great, and your social media profile should be active.
Here is how you can start this process and accelerate it:
a. Make sure your employees are active on social media. You can create structured content and distribute it across social media when necessary. Click here to learn more about how employee advocacy can help you build social proof.
b. Respond to product queries and complaints. The last thing you can do is make a template approach to responding. Many brands put 3-4 social media posts daily. Such posts often attract people who have complaints about product repairs, lack of service, and other similar queries. As a dealership – it is your moment to shine. Respond, nurture, and convert.
Your leads don’t exist in a vacuum. So, if they are not converted in one go, what happens next? If you are not running systematic retargeting programs, you might be missing out on several conversion opportunities.
Car purchases require a long gestation period. And social media marketing in the automotive industry is often treated as a short-term game. You have to understand that a lead can avoid going to the next stage for a whole range of random reasons – the internet stopped working, she got an Amazon parcel, some other ad popped up, your landing page did not load as expected, etc. Some of these reasons have nothing to do with the lead’s intent.
4. Local Business Partnerships
Let’s build on the idea that your leads do not exist in a vacuum. They might be interested in buying a car today or tomorrow. Still, they must also have an interest in purchasing a home, working with a dentist, booking a holiday package, getting their home renovated, buying an insurance policy, etc.
The strategy pushes you to be more empathetic with your leads. Instead of treating your relationship with them as the only one in their life, you can take a collaborative approach.
For example – if an independent advisor has started working with a lead on a new retirement account, can it help you get referrals for the safer cars available at affordable rates in your inventory? Sit with your existing customers and understand the specific businesses that they interact with. Local restaurants, real estate brokers, travel service providers, general contractors for home repairs – are potential relationship development avenues.
You can use them for:
a. Bundled offerings that provide more value for money to your leads.
b. Create pipelines of prospects.
c. Create new revenue streams by participating in their referral programs.
5. Affiliate Campaigns and Referral Marketing Tactics
Are you think automotive social selling is all about social media posts and creatives? You should reconsider your strategy. Let’s extend the idea of partnering with the businesses in your vicinity. Why stop at businesses when you can also work with individuals?
You should not transform your business model into a Multi-Level Marketing scheme. But, understand that your leads will interact with different centers of influence and hence will require different nudges to come to your marketing funnel.
Use local business meetups, community events, and geocentric social media to find people who might be relevant to your target audience. You do not have to provide paid incentives to each one of these people. But, create a formal referral program that allows you to track, reward, and filter such centers of influencers in your community.
With social media marketing in the automotive industry, focusing on relevance pays off more than focusing on unnecessary scale. Use this thumb rule while filtering influencers, affiliates, and referral program participants.
6. Online Events
Workshops, webinars, seminars, master classes – you can call them anything you want. But, with the pandemic coming to a full circle, these online events have mushroomed across the internet. As a result, every company is now competing for the limited attention span of the same target group.
Never have an online event to fill your content calendar. If you have taken all the steps mentioned in this category, you would have identified the critical problems pertaining to your target audience. Unless an online event solves this problem – it has no value.
Stanford recently published a study on Zoom fatigue. Unfortunately, the same problems extend to most online events. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your online events work well with your automotive social selling practices and deliver results:
a. Diversify the format of the content in each event to break the monotony.
b. Use answering polls, quizzes, real-time chat, and gamification tactics to keep your audience engaged.
c. Include breaks in events that go beyond 30 minutes.
d. Use social media practices like countdown posts and unique hashtags to market the event. Use employee advocacy tools like Inrelay to start early promotions of such events.
7. Use Website and Social Media Chatbots
Chatbots are the key topic of discussion for several marketing platforms. There is no coincidence that most of these platforms are also developing and selling chatbot services. But, even on an objective basis, chatbots on your website and social media platforms can support your social media marketing for automotive business.
You can use chatbots to:
a. Qualify leads on your website and redirect them to the apt pages.
b. Provide 24 x 7 support.
c. Increase your sales team’s productivity by bringing them in only when necessary.
Facebook Messenger provides some chatbot functionalities. You can also use HubSpot Chatbot Builder, IBM Watson Assistant, Zendesk Live Chat, Intercom Answering Bot etc., to get started.
The Secret Sauce for Amplifying Your Lead Generation Strategy
If you want to extend the impact of your auto dealership social media marketing strategy, here are a few amplifiers you can use:
1. Employee Advocacy
Employee advocacy is the systematic process of involving your human capital in your marketing efforts. Inrelay, one of the first platforms in the vertical, helps you achieve this by:
a. Inviting your employees to your employee advocacy program. Our research shows that over 7 out of 10 employees will agree to participate – when nudged the right way.
b. Create structured content categories. This ensures each employee posts only the most relevant content according to her profile and her target audience’s progression in the customer journey.
c. Measure the results of your employee advocacy program and optimize resource allocation.
Our team of experts can also help you put together the right creatives and establish a monthly strategy. Click here to explore our Ultimate subscription plan that delivers all the value for the cost of fewer than two leads on an annual basis.
2. Website Optimization
If your website is still using the legacy planning idea of a product portfolio-based user interface – you should revisit the drawing board.
Mike Brooks, a revered sales consultant, has conducted research and shown that 80% of sales objections are more or less the same for a target audience. If you can design your web experience around solving these issues, you will see more conversions.
Make sure you run A/B Tests and keep the browsing experience simple. That way, you will be able to detect the results for what works and what does not.
3. Utilize GMB and PPC Ads
You would be surprised to see how many dealerships do not optimize their Google My Business page. Even if you have a global brand in your portfolio, you are essentially a local business. And that means people will use locally available information to filer your services. Here is how you can optimize your GMB page:
a. Ensure that the contact information is updated and accurate.
b. Respond to both positive and negative feedback constructively.
c. Add your website link to the GMB profile and ensure the map location is precise.
PPC ads are a great way to generate leads – once you have optimized your website, GMB page, landing page, and incentive structure for leads.
Lead generation and conversion is science and arts in equal parts. A lot of it is just sticking to the standard practices, while the rest is about creative experimenting and testing. Make sure you go through each of these practices and collaboratively discover what works for you.
Our team of experts will be happy to walk you through how Inrelay can help you experience better lead generation, conversion, and retention using employee advocacy. Click here to get a free consultation.