As social media continues to generate interest and traction within the automotive industry, IMN conducted a survey of auto dealers to better understand their social media needs and emerging challenges. What emerged were seven trends, three of which we previously discussed here. The remaining four highlight some of the underlying complexities associated with adopting social media strategies.
#4 Email marketing is essential.
In IMN’s study, email marketing ranked second in importance for auto dealers, in large part, because it was a well-known medium with clear metrics and the ability to provide value that they can understand. The study also indicated that while many dealers do not yet see the value in tying email marketing with social marketing, they understood the value of integrating the two and ensuring consistency.
#5 Search Engine Optimization—a marketing puzzle
Like many other businesses struggling with the complexities of the algorithms and inner workings of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the vast majority of dealers understood SEO’s value, but were unclear about how to best take advantage of this powerful lead generator. This demonstrates the need for greater education about the role of SEO in the marketing mix and how to make more informed decisions about its use.
#6 Social content—still a mystery
With the greatest cost of social media marketing being time, content generation was another factor with which dealers struggle. Most found it a challenge to create current, relevant and unique content on a consistent basis, and the content they were creating was relatively unsophisticated and not strategic in nature. Most would welcome the ability to create truly effective content across types and formats without spending a lot of time doing it.
All respondents indicated that getting help from a third party in making their social media and email marketing efforts profitable would be something on which they would be happy to spend a portion of their marketing budgets. The social marketing goal for many of the dealers is simply to create engaging content that will create interest (direct and via sharing) so consumers will come into the dealership. For many, measuring the effect of social marketing often comes down to anecdotal feedback during phone calls or in-store visits. A social solution that could provide measurable results on a consistent basis has the potential to change a dealer’s entire perception of the value of social media.
As one of the dealers surveyed said, “time is the new expense.” Dealers want to use social media effectively, generating positive ROI in the process, but seek a way to do so that enables them to maintain customer relationships without major time investments. Accomplishing this requires strategies that address content, distribution and analytics to enable them to use social media to become more competitive and more connected with their customers.
Nancy Liberman is the vice president of marketing for IMN.