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Car Dealerships – Customer Retention vs Customer Acquisition

It shouldn’t be this way, but for some businesses, customer retention takes precedence over customer acquisition. When you analyze a company’s behavior on Facebook, the content they share, the amount of ad campaigns they run, and their engagement and follower growth rates tells a lot about what their social media marketing strategy is. You’ll sometimes notice that businesses use social media platforms as if they’re personal accounts, being friendly and trying to retain already existing customers, rather than actively searching for new consumers to increase sales. This strategy is evident in the automotive industry, as car dealerships spend very little time seeking new customers, and would rather stand pat with the number of followers they have on their social media pages.

Car dealerships’ Facebook pages for the most part lack every important characteristic of a healthy business that sees sales through social media efforts. There’s no growth in likes or engagement, no ad promotions, lazy content curation, and a troubling lack of commitment and consistency to their social media accounts. The content that is shared is geared more towards current customers who already purchased a car recently, as opposed to potential car buyers who haven’t made a decision on which vehicle they’ll purchase next. When all put together, these ingredients create a perception that sales for car dealerships on social media is impossible, which is not the case as dealerships refuse to stick to or find a strategy that works for the clientele they’re marketing to.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with customer retention as customer equity is key to the long term survival and success of the dealership. The problem however is the fact that most car buyers aren’t likely to trade in for newer models until two or three years down the road at the earliest, so you’re banking on your content to retain the attention of your customers to your brand so they do return. How about creating content and ad campaigns that achieve both customer retention and customer acquisition? You’ll be appealing to more than one type of consumer, and while you’re drawing in clientele, you’re also retaining the customers who recently purchased a car from your dealership.

How can you change up your social media marketing strategy to see results in 2017? Create digital media, whether it be photos or videos of the cars you sell, and use ad campaigns to reach new people. Seeing as though Facebook and other social media platforms have changed their algorithms, organic reach has been limited, which means it’s a must to either boost your posts with $5 – $10 per day or create weekly ad campaigns to grow and expand your content’s reach and influence.

Dealerships primarily share non-native content, usually sharing links to car magazines or news organizations that review the brand’s vehicles, or news related to the cars that the dealership sells. This form of content isn’t effective and it’s quite clear when you look at the lack of engagement. Instead, post pictures and videos that provide value to consumers such as specifications of the car, safety features, fuel efficiency, while also displaying your vehicles in a good light. Car magazines aren’t biased, which means their reviews could lead customers to rival brands. It’s your job to sell potential car buyers on the cars you sell, not the magazine’s.

Ad campaigns then reach people who are in the market for a car if you advertise effectively and know your target audience. Sales can not be generated without marketing, and even though dealerships have been accustomed to marketing themselves on television and radio rather than the cars they’re selling, on social media both have to be the center of attention to acquire new customers on Facebook or other platforms.

A majority of car dealerships try retaining customers, and they’re failing at it. Be proactive and start actively searching for new car buyers. You cannot see any growth on social media by sporadically posting content on your accounts, and being uncommitted to this form of marketing. Social media marketing hasn’t been seen as a legitimate form of online sales, not because it doesn’t work, but car dealerships only stick to what they know best; television, newspapers, and radio ads. It’s time to market in the year that we’re living in, and treat social media the same way you do with traditional advertising. The time to increasing car sales is now, so change up your strategy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and start seeing results today.

Car Dealerships – Lack of Value On Social Media Is Inexcusable

This weekend the New England International Auto Show in Boston came to town, which offers great opportunities for consumers and social media marketers in the automotive industry. For sales representatives, walking around car brands and listening to what consumers are attracted to and the features they like can be used to the sale rep’s advantage in the showroom. When it comes to social media, the same listening tactics can be applied and the manager of the dealership’s accounts can begin creating content that attracts the attention of consumers. On my second day of the auto show, I stumbled upon the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited, and what I learned about the car in five minutes can easily be translated into content to generate sales.

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited starts just under $23k. Getting 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, this compact sedan offers great fuel economy for consumers who are looking to save at the pump. In terms of safety features, the Elantra offers lane departure warning systems, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot detection, and smart cruise control. For entertainment, you get a navigation system and an 8-speaker premium sound system to name a couple of features. While the particular model I sat in didn’t have powered seats, the little Elantra offered much more than I had expected.

After taking a look at the car, it dawned on me that no Hyundai dealership in my area brought any awareness to the fact that the Elantra Limited offered a long list of features, both for entertainment and safety. Instead of enticing and drawing interest into the vehicle, dealerships are complacent enough with their boring social media content that consists of links to Car Driver, local news websites, and even topics that have nothing to do with the cars they’re selling.

To be frank, this is inexcusable and downright laziness by dealerships because these vehicles are available according to the inventory websites. The content that can be created for the Hyundai Elantra Limited alone is limitless, and with a little creativity, the content that is being promoted can be interactive and fun for customers. A walk around video that takes the consumer on a virtual tour is one way to promote Hyundai’s strides in making the Elantra affordable, while also being technologically advanced. High quality photos of the interior, dashboard, and the navigation system will draw interest from your social media followers. Your follower’s engagement will further expand the reach of your content, which in turn could lead more potential customers to visiting your showroom and scheduling a test drive.

For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that Toyota commercials are boasting that they offer safety features standard, and really playing the safety card while also being affordable. Seeing as though that the Toyota Corolla is a direct competitor to the Hyundai Elantra, it would be wise to start drawing consumers’ attention away from Toyota, and focus on Hyundai, who is a worthy candidate to overthrow Toyota’s reign on reliability. Remember, you’re not creating content for the sake of it; your primary objective is to increase sales, and there’s no doubt your sales reps would like a piece of the action. Toyota is beating your brand on the corporate level, but you can have the upper hand by striking directly at the local market in your area.

At the end of the day, what’s disturbing is that the Elantra is just one car of dozens that are being overlooked because they’re not marketed properly. There might be a car out there that offers everything the average car buyer is looking for, but car dealerships aren’t using social media to their advantage. That car may be on your lot, and instead of that vehicle getting sold, it’c costing you money each day it sits on your property.

Get serious about social media marketing. This isn’t your own personal profile where statuses that get no engagement have no negative impact. With each passing day of boring content you’re losing the audience you spent money on building. Create digital media content that grabs people’s attentions and start getting sales. You’re the one who can provide the value the customers are looking for. It shouldn’t be the car magazine’s job to create content, as they’ll overlook the features that resonate most with your customer base.

Get serious, get committed, and be consistent. Your hard work will pay off.

The Power of Digital Media – The Chain Reaction

In my previous articles I’ve talked about the importance of digital media, knowing your audience, finding cost efficient social media marketing strategies, and mapping out a game plan to tackle social media platforms. Now let’s talk about the most overlooked variable that comes with digital media when posted on Facebook; the chain reaction. To understand the effect of a chain reaction on Facebook, you need to pay attention to the analytics and see what form of content is receiving the most engagement and reach. More often than not, it’s digital media posted directly to your Facebook page, whether it’s native content or sharing someone else’s.

A like, comment, or share by one of your followers isn’t exclusively seen by you or that person who engaged with the content you shared, their Facebook friends did as well. Similar to how I discussed the ability to reach people by encouraging your customers to “check in” on Facebook when they do business with you, the engagement you’re receiving is also reaching others without spending money. This is why digital media is very important as high quality content has the tendency to go viral if it resonates with your audience, or in this case, customers.

Being a social media manager for automotive related Facebook pages, I’ve noticed that third party links to articles and YouTube videos that require an additional click to view receive very poor engagement rates. This happens because you’ve sent traffic to another site, and even though the content was relevant, if they share the link, it won’t be going back to your Facebook page. That’s why it disappoints me to see dealerships use links that don’t send traffic to their websites or social media accounts because they missed an opportunity to further expand their reach. If the content was posted natively, all forms of engagement by followers would then be seen by their friends, leading all traffic and further reach back to the dealership’s Facebook page.

Here are some examples of why digital media (even non-native) will always outperform third party links. As a side note, one dealership actively promotes and advertises while the other is complacent with endlessly posting boring content where the link doesn’t lead back to the dealership’s website or social media pages.

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    The difference in engagement is overwhelming. The Audi dealership shared a video that was posted directly to their Facebook page, and low and behold they got 24k views, 623 shares, and 116 comments. The reach on this one post was clearly in the thousands, possibly 100,000 or more as they have over 300,000 likes on their Facebook page. Digital media, along with ad promotions, brought awareness of the dealership’s brand to many people who probably never heard of the company. That’s the power of social media. Content can go viral.

    In contrast, the Hyundai dealership who has a following of over 8,000 received very little engagement. In fact after doing some digging, the only people who commented or liked were company employees or relatives of people who work at the dealership. The very minimal reach along with lackluster content had absolutely no effect as engagement was unacceptably low, especially with a following nearing 10,000.

    The argument can be made that the stark difference in number of followers can play a factor in overall reach. However, what can’t be denied is the fact that digital media garners a higher level of engagement. In terms of social media analytics, video and picture content provides more information on it’s effectiveness. With that being said, managers for these social media accounts can learn a lot from their customers and followers. From there, they can create a content system where digital media surrounding the vehicles the dealerships sells are the main focal point.

    To be successful on social media, you need an audience. Whether grown through ad campaigns or cost efficient marketing strategies where organic reach is of no expense, the content you share, native or third party, will fall on deaf ears and the message you’re trying to promote will be essentially invisible. Use digital media to your advantage, but also be smart by taking advantage of the tools Facebook and other social media platforms have to offer. You can achieve sales and results through social media, you just have to know your audience, understand what gets them to engage, and what will motivate them to walk through your showroom’s doors.

The Days Of A Generalized Approach to Social Media Marketing Are Over

A week into the new year, many marketers have written articles, posted tweets, and have created videos talking as if social media is cheating them out of reaching consumers. Non business related YouTubers have even taken a break to “reassess” how they can navigate the new algorithms that YouTube has implemented. Unfortunately for these YouTubers and social media marketers, they’ve become the first victims of a new era in social media. The days of being a generalist, promoting generic content, and not differentiating themselves from the competition are over, and what new algorithms have effectively done is weed out the weak marketers and content creators.

To succeed in 2017 on social media platforms, you’ll have to think differently, communicate with your customers, provide valuable content in digital form, and go further than anyone else in your industry. What we’re witnessing is the localization of marketing, along with social media marketers’ waning dependency on holistic advertising strategies. There was once a time where marketing and advertising was very straightforward and could be applied to all industries. The creation of slogans, television commercials, radio and newspaper ads were the blueprints to old school marketing. Today in 2017, what works for a marketer whose clients provide services, may not work for someone in retail.

As a result of the changes that social media platforms made in 2016, there’s now older marketers who jumped on the social media bandwagon, made money, and are now facing adversity. They didn’t innovate or pay attention to the direction the market was heading and instead of fixing the problem, they’re now trying to influence and promote the idea that social media marketing doesn’t work. In fact, an article came up on my newsfeed advocating for email marketing. I witnessed the downfall of email marketing gurus in 2012-2013, and because they failed to change they’re now irrelevant and no longer posting content.

Traditional advertising was great prior to technology, and now that social media platforms are growing, there now has to be new approaches to tackle those changes. There’s no need to look back when the answers to the problems are right in front of us. The truth is that social media marketers all have to choose a niche market and become experts in that field, as opposed to being experts at social media. So if Sarah is an expert at automotive social media marketing, and John is a master of marketing for the house/remodeling industry, they’ll see better results than a generalist who tries taking on both industries.

Social media and the internet has altered our entire lives. From how we communicate, to where we shop, our daily lives and what businesses thrive are now coming down to localization. The small stores down the street have a chance to compete with corporations, and people can talk with others who have the same interests that live in their area and from there, build a community. Social media platforms are just a small part of what changed in 2016, and now that we’re beginning to see it with our own eyes, there are old school thinkers who can’t handle the direction the business world, and even socialization itself has gone in.

Whether you’re a social media marketer, a business owner, or manager, specialized exerts in social media marketing is the future. Colleges still teach generalized marketing, and as a result, there’s a lack of professionals who’ve become experts in a niche market. If you want to see results and sales in 2017, you need to find talent that knows your market. Generalized marketing is slowly beginning to die, and the rise of marketers who understand the target consumer audience they’re selling to are becoming more successful on all platforms.

Are you going to be remembered as social media’s casualties in 2017, or you going to follow the direction the market is heading in, and separate yourself from the old school way of thinking?

Social Media Marketing – 3 Reasons Why Dealerships Quit Early In The Game

Social media marketing has never been a strong point for car dealerships, and there are several factors and reasons as to why that is. Some are of no fault of the dealerships’, but the way the automotive industry has operated when it comes to marketing over the decades. Despite dealerships’ dependency on corporate advertising, television, radio and newspaper ads, there’s no excuse as to why a small locally owned car dealership, or multi million dollar franchise can’t see results from social media. Let’s take a look at a few mistakes dealers make annually, and how we can fix these issues in 2017.

Lack Of Engagement

Lack of engagement stems from a number of variables. Poor content, inconsistent posting, failed advertising campaigns, and no creativity are at the roots of little to no engagement. Dealerships approach Facebook as an immediate “get car sales quick” or “grow large following” platform without actually doing any work to build that following and customer base. They’ll start out posting irrelevant and boring content which will usually last a few weeks, and when they receive no engagement, they quit.

In some cases, there are dealerships who have their own employees comment, share, and like posts to generate reach and appear more popular than they really are. It’s no surprise that it doesn’t work, and in culmination with non-native content, there’s no value being given to already existing followers on that Facebook page. Lack of digital media content, which is something I’ll get into later, is at the very core of no engagement. Dealerships’ Facebook pages become barren, with inconsistent posting as a result. Eventually the dealership will give a haphazard effort, making their page essentially invisible.

Not Knowing The Target Audience

Dealerships, like any business, will use Facebook ads to target customers, grow a following, and generate nonorganic reach. It’s not the advertisement itself where things goes wrong, it’s the target audience in conjunction with the content. Rarely if ever, do dealerships create native digital content that includes pictures and videos. Without high quality pictures and videos, there’s no reason for people to focus their attention on your dealership. Ads with no value will be overlooked, and usually it’s the hard selling content that really gets ignored.

Even for content that isn’t promoted and just shared throughout the day, posts that don’t resonate with the audience that you’ve built, or the customers who’ve followed your dealership will fall on deaf ears. A local Volvo dealership shared a link to a video on two non street legal Volvos racing around a track in Sweden. I don’t proclaim to be a Volvo customer expert, but 99% of Volvo owners have no intention of racing their S60’s, nor would they care for a modified Volvo truck sold only in Europe, going up against a Volvo S60 race car. Know your target audience. Not just in terms of Facebook advertisement, but for content as well.


This is related to lack of engagement, and this also leads us into the final reason why dealerships eventually quit on being committed to Facebook and social media marketing.

Lack of Creativity When It Comes To The Content

Digital media is on the rise, and we can thank Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest for that. High quality pictures on social media wasn’t as prevalent three or four years ago. In 2017, it’s vital and it ties into why car dealerships fail at social media. If you look up and down dealerships’ timelines, you’ll notice a lack of eye catching, attention grabbing, interesting native content. There’s articles from Car & Driver, news sites reporting automotive news, and even YouTube videos that don’t help explain or persuade customers to buy the cars the dealership is selling. Most importantly these links take potential buyers away from your Facebook page and website, and now you’ve risked losing that traffic forever.

Without digital media, you won’t see engagement. When your content is poor and irrelevant, it doesn’t resonate with your target audience. Now that we have a web to work with, your content is at the center of why you’re not seeing results and existing followers aren’t liking or sharing the content you’re promoting. When you bring these three factors together you end up with dealerships quitting social media marketing without putting 100% effort into it.

Digital media that includes video, high quality pictures, and eye catching content that is relevant to your target audience will make your ad campaigns more effective. This leads to higher returns on investment and engagement rates. To stand out on Facebook or any social media platform, you need attention and eyes on your accounts. Without that attention your content is essentially invisible, which is why if you’re making these three mistakes, you too will quit on social media marketing.

Facebook’s “Check In” – An Untapped Social Media Marketing Tool

In the past few articles, we’ve established that many businesses, predominantly in the automotive industry, misuse social media by not taking advantage of the tools that are available to them. Factors include lack of commitment and involvement, but most importantly, an unwillingness to be creative and think outside the box. As demonstrated with car dealerships, staying confined to irrelevant content and refusing to use digital media are just a few examples of staying within lines and parameters that dealers have put themselves in. With that being said, social media marketing is so much more than ads and posting content, it can actually be beneficial in how you target audiences both through traditional forms of advertising, and on social media.

Facebook allows their users to “check in” whenever they eat at a restaurant, visit a tourist attraction, when they go to the gym, attend a sporting event, etc. As a consumer yourself, have you ever “checked in”, telling your friends where you are, or what experiences you’re having? That one Facebook post that says you’re dining at the Italian restaurant in town, unintentionally promoted the restaurant’s brand to all your friends. Potentially, that’s an additional 500 to a few thousand people that were reached at no expense for that restaurant, which is free advertisement. This modern form of “word of mouth” can have the same effect for your dealership. Here’s how.

When a customer buys a vehicle, or comes in for maintenance, encourage them to “check in”. Most dealerships offer online prices that can range from a few hundred to $2000 off the listed price. For these prices to carry any marketing weight, urge the buyer to “check in” to lock in the deal by posting a status. This post serves the purpose of free advertisement and promotion, while also giving the customer reassurance that they made the right decision by purchasing the vehicle that was on your lot.

If your dealership has a service department; during the time of year when customers bring in their vehicles to be winterized, once again encourage the owner to “check in”. Usually dealerships have coupons or other incentives, such as 10% off an oil change or tire rotation, and to fully take advantage of the offers you’re promoting, having the customers lock in their coupon by posting a status of them at your dealership, you’re maximizing your social media marketing on a fixed budget

Facebook “check in” is more than just further promoting your brand and being very cost efficient with marketing, it’s actually a social media form of analytics. When a customer “checks in”, your Facebook page gets notified. You know who bought a car or brought their vehicle in for maintenance, and now you have the basis of a customer database. This database will help you advertise and promote your dealership on social media with more accuracy and precision. You’ll know the demographics of your customers, a general idea of their age, gender, and where they live, thanks to how much information Facebook users publicly display on their profiles.

These statistics can then be applied when you advertise on Facebook. Since Facebook ads allow you to target audiences, you’re now marketing with 20/20 vision, as apposed to promoting your page and statuses blind with no idea what your customers’ demographics are. This will allow you to get the most out of your marketing budget when you create ad campaigns.

Dealerships, or any businesses for that matter, can be very conservative when it comes to spending on social media. Facebook “check in” is not only cost efficient due to the free promotion by statuses from your customers, but you’re documenting who is buying from your dealership which will make your ad campaigns much more effective. Content, even at it’s best, needs an audience to receive engagement. Instead of committing a lot of money when you don’t know who you’re targeting, use the tools that social media platforms have to offer. It’s not only beneficial in terms of retaining the marketing budget you’ve been given, but you’re also receiving valuable insight in who your customers and clients are.

Alfa Romeo Dealerships Will Need Social Media To Compete

Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States has been very interesting to say the least, as they’ve made more splashes with the cars that aren’t in the showroom yet as opposed to the 4C’s current availability on the market. That will all change in 2017 with the arrival of Alfa’s first four door sedan the Giulia, and the Stelvio, which will compete in the crossover market. The Italian automaker’s re-entry into the US automotive world will be faced with many challenges as the Germans have dominated the luxury market for quite a while with absolutely no signs of being superseded. Alfa Romeo dealerships across the county face an uphill battle, but if they’re willing to use digital media for their social media accounts, they can help promote the brand on the local level.

If you’ve been a follower of mine for a while, you know that I’m a big supporter of social media marketing for dealerships. There is no better brand to use as an example than Alfa Romeo since their role in the automotive industry is similar to a tech startup, as they’re not well-known outside the car enthusiast community and will need every bit of promotion they can get. Social media can help face these challenges for Alfa dealerships, but if there’s no desire to create eye catching content, along with the commitment and involvement that it will take to compete with BMW, Audi, or Mercedes Benz, then Alfa Romeo’s return will fall short.

Digital media that includes pictures, videos, walk arounds, and reviews, culminating with social media ad campaigns is vital to raising awareness for the brand. Instead of looking back on Alfa Romeo’s past, dealerships must focus on the present and future as the Giulia and Stelvio are two very exciting models that have the potential of becoming popular with many car buyers. While corporate promotes the Giulia Quadrifoglio, dealerships should start creating content around the base and Ti trim levels, as they’ll be more affordable and in the same price range as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

There’s no denying that the Quadrifoglio is already popular with car enthusiasts as it’s faster than a BMW M3. However, for the brand to be a success the average car buyer needs to be persuaded to stop looking at German cars and seriously consider a Giulia or Stelvio. That’s where social media marketing comes into play. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube must be at the center of your marketing strategy as the viral nature of social media platforms will be beneficial in spreading the word that average Americans can purchase an Italian car for the same price as a BMW.

Dealerships must be proactive in their efforts to promote and sell all new models. Audi and BMW dealers can make the argument that the average consumer knows the brand well, but for Alfa Romeo sales representatives, they don’t have that luxury. Spreading awareness by being fully engaged with social media platforms, while also posting consistently can mitigate the obstacles that stand in Alfa Romeo’s way.

2017 is going to be an exciting year for the automotive industry, and Alfa Romeo is going to be at the center of it. Start using social media now, even before the base and Ti models of the Giulia hit the showroom. I’ve seen Quadrifoglio’s available at dealerships already, and by using its arrival as the stepping stone to promoting not only your dealership, but the Alfa Romeo brand, your dealer will get a head start on all the other showrooms opening up throughout the county.