usa automotive industry

Another important relationship is their relationship with the local community. One of the fears of Automotive dealerships are large companies like Carvana. That’s why it’s important for automotive dealerships to communicate their involvement in the community. However, with the recent changes in the industry, this dynamic has shifted. The old playbook focusing only on relationships based on freebies, discounts, and radio ads will not deliver the required results. With online marketplaces pushing to eliminate the dealership from the equation, the pressure to evolve on such dealerships has only increased.

On the other side of the same picture are the dealerships, which are rapidly evolving. They are focusing on Customer Relationship Management from a data-driven lens. They are utilizing social selling for car dealerships and even trying out new channels like employee advocacy.

But, before we jump to the deeper end of this pool, let’s take a look at how the industry’s fate & face are changing.

15 Mistakes Hammering the Automotive Dealerships’ Relationships

We can spend an entire day listing out the issues that have existed in the industry. But, let’s focus on the recent developments that are damaging your automotive dealership’s relationships.

1. Decreasing the Marketing Budget

The pandemic made many dealerships reimagine their business model. And, as revenues dried up, they started focusing on cutting costs. But, what do you do when you want to go ahead and see a gap on the freeway? You accelerate. Instead, most dealerships started cutting marketing spends – even as they saw the competition getting out of their way. This is why digital ad spends decreased by nearly 18% in 2020.

2. Forgetting the Impact of Automotive Social Selling

The social element is still important for people. But, the marketing often does not reflect this. Globally, the automotive industry is still focused on TV, radio, print, and other conventional channels. A report published by Zenith showed how despite contributing to over half of global ad spend, the USA automobile industry’s ad spends had declined by 12% since 2012.

If dealerships are spending less on ads overall and facing a decline in sales, what should they do? Reassess the impact of social selling.

3. Overspending on Radio, Print, and Other Opaque Mediums.

Building on the social selling idea, try to imagine how are you allocating the budget across mediums. How many radio ad campaigns have you run in the last five years? If you do not have an exact number, there is a high chance you might have overspent on radio ads.

If not radio ads, what percentage of your advertising budget has been allocated to newspapers, magazines, and other mediums. The problem with such mediums is that they give an illusion of reach while not giving any reasonable form of trackable. If are not sure what is the ROI of a particular medium, why would you keep allocating your budget to it?

4. No Scheduled Posts

If you have a small dealership with 50-60 people working across divisions, there is a chance that the marketing team has limited hands. And, this means, social media posting is not regular. Who has the time to open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, and every other channel to publish a post!

This is a common problem in the industry. But, it actually has a very simple solution, as we will discover later.

5. No Engagement of Social Media Marketing in the Automotive Industry

Isn’t engagement the result of a problem? Yes, if you mean ‘customer engagement’. But what about marketer engagement? That is also a part of the problem.

Is your dealership actively engaging with consumers on social media – reacting to comments, resolving queries, and addressing complaints? If not, you are missing out on the benefits of social selling for car dealerships.

6. Long Conversion Lifecycle

On average, car buyers in the USA spend close to 14 hours researching before making a purchase decision. Even if your sales team allocates 2 hours to such a lead, they will need an entire working week to convert it!

The internet has all the information already available. Then, why do prospects need so much time? The Internet has solved the information problem, not the trust problem. It takes time for buyers to find a trustworthy deal. The underappreciated art of automotive social selling is at the heart of this problem, but we will get to it later.

7. Missing CTA

Call-to-action – such a simple concept to understand. Yet, how many social media ads, posts, and captions have you seen where you are impressed by the info but don’t know what to do with it?

Circling back to the lack of marketing resources problem, if one person runs all your social media programs – it is easy to ignore CTAs. But, this is a cost-cutting measure of putting more people in your marketing team, costing your dealership more conversions.

8. Late Responses on Social Media

Many dealerships treat social media as an ad or content distribution platform. You come up with an idea and your team posts it on social media. But, this entirely ignores the ‘social’ side of the process. Social media is a means to use technology as a social selling platform. Use it as a one-way channel, and you will never get great results.

9. Missing Ad Performance Tracking

One key reason why several brands jumped on the digital ad bandwagon is the fact that it offered transparency. At the end of each month, you can look at all the leads & conversions and easily see where they originate.

The flashiest of channels – front page in the local news daily, Madonna singing for your dealership on radio, or even running a Super Bowl Ad, do not offer tracking. So, what will you choose – throwing a few thousand dollars on ads and seeing what works, or carefully examining the results to allocate the budget better?

10. Paid Posts = Organic Posts

You are running a limited period offer at your dealership, and you post about it on social media. You also have a great after-sales services program at the dealership. You post about that too. If the tone of these posts is identical – your audience will not react the way you want.

Pushing sales in every post is not social selling for car dealerships. There has to be a boundary between posts that sell and the posts that inform.

11. Employee Incentives vs. Customer Experience

The root cause behind several problems in the industry is its incentive structure. Think about it – you pay your sales team on every conversion or on engaging the prospects as they walk into the dealership? You would you have a strong argument here – you run a dealership, not a hospitality business! And you are right.

All said and done – you are already spending thousands of dollars on freebies. What if you could allocate the same funds to deliver a better customer experience? No, you don’t have to enter a ‘Customer Experience Bonus’ in your sales team’s profile. Keep reading. We will get to this as well!

12. Different Customer Response Standards

How about a small experiment? Take the manuscript of interaction between your employees and customers in the dealership. Now, take any social media post you have published under your dealership’s social media account. If you remove the brand from both of these, would it seem like they belong to the same business?

This disparity often creates dissonance between customers. Prospects want to hear the same language throughout the process of buying the car. It builds trust.

13. Offline vs. Online Instead of Offline + Online

This is a problem that goes beyond social media marketing in the automotive industry. Many marketers have this approach. There is a world of online marketing, and there is a world of offline marketing. But, for the customers, there is just marketing!

When you do not align both the channels, you end up spending on redundant ideas. You also miss out on the efficiencies by focusing on one channel at a time. And, you might even confuse the leads.

14. Inventory Management Problems

Did you face difficulties in procuring cars & parts from auto manufacturers? Here is what happened:

  • The USA saw a 50% drop in car sales in early 2020.
  • Cars use semiconductors. And many industries started expanding the use of semiconductors.
  • The semiconductor manufacturers allocated capacities to other industries.
  • When auto manufacturers returned with big orders, semiconductors asked them to wait in line.

This is an oversimplification of the problem. But, it shows why you faced the issue. Do you think you could’ve solved the problem with better inventory management? Maybe not. But, you could’ve been a high-priority buyer by placing your orders early. And if you had basic demand forecasting features using automotive social selling, you could have achieved this feat.

15. Pushing the Wrong Produc

Used cars present a market twice the size of the new car market. Moreover, used car sales often go up even as new car sales witness a halt.
Yet, many dealerships almost exclusively focus on new cars because they offer a better opportunity for profit. If you had access to a social selling platform that showed customers prefer used cars, wouldn’t you use it to restructure your marketing efforts?

automotive dealership social selling platform

How Can Inrelay Help Your Dealership Avoid the Same Mistakes?

How Can Inrelay Help Your Dealership Avoid the Same Mistakes?
Philosophers pose problems. Entrepreneurs design solutions. And, it generally pays off to be an entrepreneur! So, let’s focus on devising the solutions that can solve the problems we just went through:

1. Control the Budget, Unlock the Marketing Impact with Automotive Social Selling

Theoretically, it sounds impossible to create more marketing impact with less capital – unless you come up with a creatively genius campaign. However, you cannot plan for such ‘genius’ ideas. And hence, we have Inrelay.
The platform helps you utilize a long-forgotten marketing asset – your employees. Social selling for car dealerships has to begin with the people who enable car sales.
Here is what you can achieve with Inrelay, without increasing your marketing budget:

  • Invite dozens of employees for your employee advocacy program.
  • Track the acceptance of your requests.
  • Give them the exact content they can put on their social media profiles.

And why does it work? Because customers trust ordinary people with sincerity much more than they trust brands trying to get traction. With more trust, the traction, engagement, and conversions go up. All of this happens without spending a single penny extra on the marketing campaign.

2. Brand Awareness & Lead Generation: Balanced Social Media Marketing for Automotive Industry

Remember the problem where we discussed how sales and non-sales content on the same social media account can confuse your audience? Well, the reality is, it requires nuanced thinking. And unless you have a very creative copywriting team, it can be tough to achieve this differentiation.

What if you post different content from different profiles? Inrelay helps you achieve this. Instead of using just one dealership social media account to push all the social media messaging, bring your employees into the picture. Create categories of content. Divide it between sales and non-sales, or divide it as per different stages in the customer journey. And then allocate the content posting requirements to specific employee groups. It’s that simple!

3. Maintain One Social Media Message

Employee advocacy would have been an industry-wide phenomenon. But it poses serious logistical challenges. It isn’t easy to maintain uniformity between social media accounts of the same brands. How on Earth can you maintain uniformity between 100s of employees posting on their accounts?

Here is what happens with Inrelay in the picture – you can create content templates and provide them to the employees. And then, you can also track the posts. This way, you get control over the entire cycle of posting content.

4. Develop Long-Term Relationships

When people come to buy a car at your dealership, are they buying the brand or buying because of your services? This distinction can be the difference between good and great dealerships.

Your automotive dealerships’ relationships are an asset class that can serve you for decades. But, how do you build a relationship with a lead who does not want to engage with your ads? By not posting ads and focusing on opinion-leadership.

The math already works. 82% of people make their buying choices based on what opinion leaders say. This is higher than practically any ad category you can imagine! With Inrelay, your employees can consistently spend more on informative content. Over time, this transforms in opinion leadership and can be the edge your dealership needs.

5. Make Social Media a Social Selling Platform.

What happens when dozens of your employees are active on social media and working for your dealership? You get that many eyes for observing.

As we saw earlier – limited marketing resources can limit how car dealerships engage with leads. But, with several employees on social media platforms, you can organize the process for collecting feedback, conducting research, and acquiring leads. That is how to turn social media marketing into automotive social selling.

6. Create a Common Understanding of Posting Schedules

If you are a savvy dealership, you might have 4-5 social media accounts with a frequency of 2-3 posts per platform per week. That comes to approximately 12-15 posts in a week. Now, what if you multiply that number by the number of employees you have? If you have 100 employees, the number grows to 1200 to 1500 posts a week. That is an impossible feat to manage, even for a large social media agency.

Inrelay solves that problem with a robust scheduling feature. You can schedule posts for your dealership’s social media accounts. And, at the same time, create content categories directing your employees to post at a specific time.

 employee dealershop advocacy program

7. Draw Boundaries Between Relationship Building and Sales

Inbound marketing is simple to understand and difficult to implement the concept. You produce content that solves customer problems. This builds trust, and you attract customers instead of pushing ads. But, most dealerships cannot implement this idea.

A social media account posting about discounts, limited offers, and financing options cannot suddenly transform into an inbound magnet. Inrelay gives you access to dozens of employee accounts with your employee advocacy program. Now you can easily post sales content on one account and inbound relationship management content on the other.

8. Intuition for Creativity and Data for Decisions

Everything we saw here would become pointless if you cannot track. If you are abandoning the reach of radio and print ads, you should get the advantage of traceability. And Inrelay helps you do that too.
The Inrelay dashboard will give you insights into how your employee advocacy program is doing. How many employees accepted the invites, how many times did they post, and what was the impact – have all the data at your fingertips.

9. Meet Your Customers Where They Are Looking for You

Batman is a fascinating character. But, if you are about to get your teeth cleaned, would you like to see him? Probably not. You need a dentist at that point. The example may sound absurd, but it shows why timing is crucial in marketing paradigms.

Most of your customers are performing their pre-sales research online. Even if you are running the finest ads from the century on radio, they might go unnoticed like a ship at midnight.
Inrelay pushes your social media presence through the roof. Dozens of employees, hundreds of social media mention, and thousands of engagements – all with one platform that enables social selling for car dealerships like yours. Now your brand will show up online precisely when the customers are looking for it!

10. One Inrelay for All Your Marketing Needs

Some of your peers follow the conventional method of marketing. They conduct research, create campaigns, post them, study them, and repeat the cycle. While that is how the process should work, you should not need a dozen tools to do the same thing.

This is what makes Inrelay the powerhouse of marketing efficiency in social selling for car dealerships. It assists you as one platform for employee advocacy, scheduling posts, and performance analytics.
Moreover, if you use the Inrelay Ultimate subscription, you can also get creative services and strategic planning for each month – all on the same Inrelay platform.

In Conclusion

The automobile industry is positioned for a recovery over the coming years. But only the dealerships that can better utilize their employee base and focus on the changing ways of social media marketing in the automobile industry will be able to take benefit of this surging demand.

Inrelay is here to ensure your dealership is on the positive side of this historical change. Partner with your employees for employee advocacy, start conversations that help your leads and track social media initiatives – all on one platform.

upgrade your social media marketing plan


If you have a double-digit employee base, Inrelay can be of great help to your dealership. You can common opinion leadership that goes beyond one account on each social media platform.

You don’t have to! Our research shows that over 7 out of 10 employees will be glad to participate in your employee advocacy program. All you have to do is nudge them the right way. And Inrelay ensures the entire process is as structured as it can be.

Yes! Inrelay believes in responsible marketing. You should allocate capital only after trying each channel. That is why you can get a 14-day free trial for Inrelay.

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February 2024