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Facebook Advertising: Get Over It!

Each and every day I am talking with auto dealers about ways to leverage Internet marketing to promote their dealerships. Most dealers do recognize the importance of search and social media today which means I spend little or no time educating about the importance of these things and more time discussing actual tactics and strategies we are going to utilize.

When it comes to Facebook, just about every dealer agrees they need to marketing there. What’s peculiar though is how each person believes this should be done, and specifically how probably at least 2 (or 3) in 5 dealers are opposed to paid advertising on Facebook.

What is Paid Advertising?

Paid advertising on Facebook is the practice of placing real dollars behind posts and targeting specific Facebook users based on their expressed interests on Facebook. The benefit of doing this is so that you can reach people beyond the reach of your dealership page. In effect, with paid advertising you have the ability to reach just about any Facebook user on the planet, which is nearly 1.5 billion people.

Example of a Sponsored Facebook Post

Example of a Sponsored Facebook Post

Why the Opposition?

As one who used to be opposed to paying to money to reach people on Facebook, I understand why there might be opposition to this. The idea of paying money to advertise in social media always seemed wrong. And if you watch the video below you might really struggle with the idea of doing so.

Mind Shift: From Social to Traditional Media

Maybe the way to overcome this is to not view Facebook as social media and instead a traditional communications medium such as radio or television.

A primary difference between traditional and social media is how the content is published, or better yet who is creating the content. On television the content is created by professionals with serious capital and resources behind it such as equipment, talent, and studios. On Facebook, the majority of content is made by the average user.

A similarity between traditional and social media is that people entertain themselves on both. For a social network to support advertising the way Facebook does, I think it’s fair to say that it becomes more of a traditional medium.

The Misconception

A misconception I see is that it’s a bad thing for brands to have to pay to reach people on Facebook. The social network was designed and intended for people to connect with and communicate with one another. Brands that want to reach people there can can pay, alas advertise” to do so. There is nothing wrong with that. Quite frankly, it’s a terrific advertising strategy.

Facebook Marketing Tips for Auto Dealers

Organic Tips

While paying to advertise on Facebook is a good tactic, this doesn’t mean there is no use in your organic strategy. In fact, if you have your employees share each piece of content published to your page, Facebook will recognize this as content shared from a person and not a brand and thus get your content natural extended reach. For more great tips, check out this infographic from Shortstack called the Facebook Quilt.

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How involved is your connection with each of your customers? Excellent personalized customer service is what sets a great dealership apart from others. Providing superior customer service is an essential part of gaining repeat business. If you routinely followed up with every customer, in a way that would not increase your workload, how much more business could you do? Let's take a look at the customer experience process, from the perspectives of two different customers.

Without Automated Targeted Communication

The online lead (Buddy): Buddy is viewing vehicles on the dealership website. He wants to purchase a truck, and he sees two that he likes. He reads about them and views pictures on the website, then signs up for the dealership's email newsletter in case they are having any good deals.

Buddy forgets his search for a few days, then decides to check out another dealership website. He also views their trucks, and does so on a variety of other local dealership websites as well. After several months of searching, no one from any of the dealerships has contacted Buddy and he has not made a purchase.

The customer who has purchased (Minnie): Minnie purchased a car about a year ago. She received a call from the dealership three months after her purchase, letting her know that her car was due for an oil change. Minnie has not heard from the dealership since, and has discovered a shop that can do her regular maintenance for slightly cheaper than the dealership.

These situations are common. Most automotive customers now research vehicles online before visiting the dealership. In many cases, dealership staff do not have the tools to reach out to all the online leads they receive.

Once customers purchase vehicles, they require ongoing maintenance, and routine appointments are a great way to drive repeat business back to the original dealership. Does your staff contact every customer to let them know each time that their vehicle requires routine maintenance? Oil change notices, appointment reminders, updates about winter tires and special promotions... Are you contacting each customer with this important information?

If you are contacting each customer, that requires a lot of time, effort and organization. You could spend your whole day just calling customers. Is there a way to simplify the process of reaching out to customers, while still effectively connecting with them and enhancing the level of customer service that you provide?

With Automated Targeted Communication

Now let's imagine how the customer experience could be enhanced with the help of an automated communication solution.

The online lead (Buddy): Buddy views the trucks that he likes and signs up for the dealership's email newsletter. He immediately receives a welcome message: “Hi Buddy! Thanks for signing up. Use the promotional code TIRE2014 to get 20% off your purchase of windshield washer fluid or gas line antifreeze.” He receives another email the next day, with a list of “deals of the month” and he spots a truck. He clicks the link to view more information.

Two days later, he gets an email entirely focused on trucks, with links to pages highlighting the features of each of the dealership's trucks that are currently in stock. He sees the truck he likes, and clicks the link. The next day, he receives an email “Hi Buddy, would you like to test drive a Brand X 2014 truck? If you find the truck of your dreams, we will throw in three months of satellite radio free, just for you!”

Buddy goes to the dealership and tests out the truck. The salesperson is friendly and helpful and soon Buddy has decided to purchase.

The customer who has purchased (Minnie): Minnie just purchased her car. She told the salesperson that the best way to reach her is through text messaging. Two weeks after the initial purchase, Minnie receives a text message: “Hi Minnie, we hope you're enjoying your new car! If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know. You can always text us or call us at ---.”

Every three months, Minnie gets a text message letting her know that her car is due for an oil change. She even books her appointments through text messaging. On the day of each appointment, she receives a text message reminding her of the appointment time.

Every few months, Minnie receives messages and promotions that are tailored to her car type and purchase date. She always receives routine maintenance notices so her vehicle stays in top shape, and she also gets reminders when she should put on and take off her winter tires. Each year on Minnie's birthday and on the anniversary of the day she purchased her vehicle, she gets exclusive text message discounts and promotions. The communication process is quick and easy, and Minnie has never been so satisfied with customer service, so she continues to return for her maintenance and has recommended the dealership to friends.

Conclusion

Automotive salespeople and customer service representatives provide the most important connection to customers, and their hard work and friendly attitude encourage customer loyalty. Yet it is difficult for staff to contact each customer on every important date with updates about their unique vehicle and personalized promotions.

With the assistance of automated software that is currently available, staff can contact hundreds of customers with a single click. They can set up a communication plan at the beginning of the year to ensure that every customer receives maintenance reminders based on their purchase date and date of last appointment, a special promotion on their birthday and more. Automatic messages are sent on the customer's preferred mode of communication. All messages are sent from a single automated solution.

Imagine how much more new and repeat business you could gain if you could follow up with every online lead and in-store customer, and provide information that is directly relevant to each unique individual. Your daily workload is reduced, yet you are able to provide more personalized service to each of your customers.

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