Most discussions about Social Media between automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients center around R.O.I.; or their perceived lack thereof. I accept responsibility for providing proof of my performance. However, I question short term quantitative evaluations that don’t consider the qualitative long term benefits of customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention and residual income derived from a comprehensive marketing plan that includes social media.
A real world example of a vendor that uses conventional and digital media enhanced by an integrated message delivered through social media is Driving Loyalty. Their data base marketing platform relies on a proprietary algorithm that delivers relevant transparent messages on a regular basis. They use emails, direct mail, personalized websites and most recently consulting services that advise their dealer clients to leverage customer generated content on social networks to reinforce the dealer’s online reputation and relationships with their past, present and pending customers.
Relationship based selling is a proven process that has been made more efficient and scalable through the use of social media and the viral nature of social networking. Forward thinking vendors, like Driving Loyalty, embrace the extended reach and frequency provided by customer generated content. They recognize that word of mouth advertising and referrals must originate from like minded customers vs. the dealer with their presumed self serving agenda.
Fortunately, the R.O.I. from social media can be proven when it is properly defined. Increased traffic to websites sourced from social marketing messages, posts by customers on the dealer’s Facebook pages that evidence positive experiences and improve the dealer’s online reputation and even sales and service appointments sourced from social media tracked by analytic tools built into most technology driven sales and service platforms are all verifiable returns on investment.
Next generation social marketing applications, such as Helios being introduced by xChangeAuto, are even providing conversion platforms that reside on Facebook with integrated real time communications to the dealer’s CRM and DMS. This seamless integration between the customer’s social networking habits and the dealer’s sales and service processes provides the first tool with a verifiable R.O.I..
Simply put, social media matters because in today’s internet driven marketplace the customers are in charge. Auto dealers that prioritize their customer’s experience before, during and after their sale or service at their facility will attract and retain more customers. Social media has the unique ability to insert the auto dealer into the conversation that is the market without having to time their message.