Marketing in corporate environments and automotive dealerships can be strange. Too often there are two stereotypical scenarios.

Scenario 1. The dealership’s marketing team is all university trained in Marketing and Communications, and can tell you what colour instigates what emotion in people, and how to write really well. Unfortunately though, it seems they haven’t had any hands on experience with social media and connecting with customers on a personal basis. Print ads and new business cards are spot on, but is your social media page getting engagement? Are Facebook pixels installed correctly? What are their thoughts on video making on a shoestring budget?

Scenario 2. This is where digital presence is given a back seat. The manufacturer has instructed or advised that social media channels need to be utilised and digital ad campaigns are required to bring traffic to the new certified dealer website, and the dealership makes an effort (only a small one) to make sure something is started. A lot of the time, juniors are employed on the belief that this generation are social media geniuses, and little to no budget is given for social media ad spend and tools to build engagement.

Both scenarios can have a detrimental effect on your dealership’s presence online. If you are still asking why you need to focus on your digital presence, don’t bother reading on. There are other articles you need to read before this one….

So, these are 5 things I consider essential for your dealership to excel online.

  1. Knowledgeable staff looking after your online world. If your highly paid, university trained superstar cannot create posts on your Facebook page that get good reach and engagement, are they really the right person? Social media is all about communications and social interaction – perhaps a communications or PR graduate? On the flip side, if the junior you hired is great at posts but cannot get their head around the business tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel and Insights, maybe they are not the right person either. Its not a bad thing to outsource sometimes, but be careful on who you get. You need someone who will physically visit the dealership regularly, be available almost 24/7 for social media incidents that need instant attention, and can also show you monthly insights to how things are going.
  2. The right tools are needed. Just because the Facebook platform is free to sign up on and Google ads allows you to pay per click and is nothing like other advertising mediums, don’t think your budgets in this area can be too low. We recommend a Facebook budget alone of $2,000 per month to cover Facebook and Instagram page management and ad spend. If you decide to jump on the video bandwagon that is taking off online, you will need some equipment too. Go with the good stuff like a good DSLR camera and gimbal, and editing software like Adobe Creative Suite to make your photos and videos look great.
  3. A team effort. Don’t rely on the two people in your marketing team to do all the legwork. Its a joint effort between them and everyone else in your dealership. Get involved in videos and photos with all staff given an opportunity to be spotted by past customers. Make your videos personal and show off the dealership the way you want it represented to people as they would when they physically visit, after all, the digital space allows you to create a virtual showroom for your brands.
  4. Share the load of monitoring the digital space. Social media can be frustrating, especially when dealing with negative comments and reviews. Unfortunately, these are not always posted in business hours or when you have some spare time. Majority of the time it is at the end of the day when people sit down and relax after work or dinner. You need someone monitoring your profiles to look for these incidents and be able to react as required. Luckily enough, networks like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn have mobile apps that can notify you when something comes up. Best way to handle this is to split the role of monitoring between a few people and schedule each person a timeframe to manage.
  5. Last but not least is training. The digital space is constantly evolving with new technologies and trends. Make sure your staff are all over it and know what they are doing. Many manufacturers are offering courses and training to help dealers interact better online – take advantage of these! Photos and videos are super important online, if your staff cannot handle a camera or editing software, maybe it is time to send them on a photography or video creating course. Same applies to business tools like reporting, make sure your staff are trained to implement tools like the Facebook Pixel, Retargeting Cookies and Google Analytics. These will ensure you have the correct data on your demographics and engagement to allow you to better target your marketing, and in the end, be more cost effective.

These are 5 simple things that can be easily implemented and without too much cost. When you compare the cost of implementing these strategies against a traditional television or radio commercial campaign, it is clear to see the real winner here. Is TV and radio going to give you the reporting and analytics that digital marketing will? I think not. Spend wisely and look after your return on investment. Trial some new strategies in your marketing department or whomever looks after your social media, and see what you get in return.