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Does anyone remember when car dealers thought the Internet was not going to impact their business and that they did not need it? Heck I sure do because I was behind a desk at a store and remember it like it was yesterday.  Well now we are faced although in a smaller scale a similar question, “Do I really need a mobile website”?

My goal of this blog is to give you some statistics and patterns that will certainly open your eyes as to what is happing in the automotive segment and what is with out question going to happen.

According to Morgan Stanley’s report for 2011 over half of all Americans now own a smart phone! I have to admit when I read this I was blown away, my first thought was I guess the economy is not as bad as I thought. Then as I continued my research I see where Google stated they activate over 900K Android devices everyday with the trend heading towards tablets.

Now that we know that customers are buying mobile devices and the forecast through 2015 is only stronger in the mobile device arena lets see how current mobile user behavior impacts the automotive industry.

Google is now releasing a lot of automotive specific information as they enter the automotive space with their Dealer Jumpstart Google Automotive Team.  There were a few specific details that really stood out to me.  In your mind right now take an internal guess of what percentage of automobile related queries happen daily via a mobile device?

If you guessed 20% you are correct the slide below gives you a visual feel for how mobile device searches is in hyper drive. Google is also reporting that by 2015 half of ALL queries will come from a Smartphone.

Now you’re a believer that mobile is here to stay and increasing daily. Let us take a look at some of these mobile users behavior.  The behavior of a customer is invaluable in your marketing efforts and by knowing this you can put your dealership in front of these in market customers.

What time of the day are they searching? Every vendor I know of including us here at Liquid Motors will tell you if you’re in the Internet business you need to be available when the customers are shopping.  Would you be surprised to learn that 35% of the time consumers are searching for answers to their automotive questions they are doing it when the dealership is closed 7PM-7AM according to Google? This not only shows how critical it is to have the information customers are looking for at their finger tips but to be available for them. Now that is customers service and great customer service WINS!

How Google says customers are engaging dealerships on the move and look at the percentage of customers actually doing price comparison while they are on your lot!

The fact that customers are doing price comparisons on your lot should not be a surprise heck remember the “old 3rd base coach” they would be on the phone with at home looking on line at pricing? Now they just have the ability to do it in their palm, plus with so many new apps like Redline that consumers are using they are getting trained to do this.

Here is your mobile ready checklist

Create a mobile optimized website. Your main dealer site may be visible on your mobile phone but there are so many functions that are lost and the user experience is lacking to say the least. With Google’s statistics that 57% of mobile users say they would not recommend a business with a poor mobile site and 40% of mobile users have turned to a competitor after a bad mobile experience using your main dealer site as your mobile site is just not acceptable in today’s market.

Make it easy for customers to get to your mobile site – use a company that utilizes device detection so mobile users are automatically viewing your mobile site not redirected or required to use a different mobile URL. Here is an example of a Liquid Motors Full and Mobile site comparison.  The site is http://www.mercedesbenzofgeorgetown.com/  if you wish to review the site yourself.Track clicks for “get directions” and “click to call”. Take advantage of your analytics they will allow you to make adjustments to your websites SEO.

Utilize tools such as QR Codes so consumers looking for answers or vehicle details can find these easily. These Quick Response codes should take consumers directly to the vehicle details page on your mobile website.  You can also use them on your mobile sites to allow customers to see more information or fill out contact forms easily.

Track and monitor results with your analytics.

Make measureable adjustments as needed. Remember if you make a change you want to know where you are at the time of the change so you can measure a positive or negative affect of that change.

Are customers doing reviews about car dealerships and what do you consider a review? If you ask most people what they think of when you ask, “What is a review” most would tell you a form the customer fills out. Well according to Google 80% of car purchasers will tell someone about their experience and in today’s world, 50% are doing so digitally.  Roughly 10% of these buyers will do so in a written or digital form submission. Word of mouth still rules the roast it seems.

What is next for Google, we know Live Chat for Adwords powered by ActiveEngage is in beta but who really knows I am sure there will be a lot over the next several months as they enter the automotive space full speed. I do know one item I have seen and since Google offered 6 Billion dollars to purchase Groupon® which was rejected a new product has been coming down the pipe line called Google Offers.  If you are familiar with Groupon® then you have an idea of what they are doing.  Not only can customers sign up to get local offers they are interested in like Groupon® but on Google searches customers can click on the “offer” icon and the current offer your dealership has running will display. No release date on this that I have found or heard to date.

Thank you for following my blog and all of us hear at Liquid Motors appreciate your input, feedback and support, without our dealers we are nothing!

Technology is ever changing and staying up with the times is more important than ever.  Dealers are starting to use what may have been thought of as unimaginable technology 10 years ago that is becoming part of our culture.  We are demanding faster service, more accurate information and something to grab our interest at all times.  How will we ever keep up?

 

It’s amazing to go into dealerships now and see what technology is being used.  You may be one of 300 customers that visit a dealer in that particular day, but your service advisor who greets you knows your name and probably already knows what you are there for.  The service advisor may not even have a pen and paper anymore, but rather an iPad or tablet of some sort.  Your tire measurements have already been checked for pressure, tread depth and premature edge wear with a Vin Tech system you rolled over on your way into the service drive.  Or if you are returning your borrowed loan car there is already someone in your vehicle bringing it to the drive with no call ahead notice due to an RFID tag.  It’s just amazing the steps dealers are taking not to get one step ahead, but stay up with the times.

 

As expensive as all of these products are there is such a benefit to using them.  You are saving cost on supplies, being eco-friendly and most importantly improving your business through pure efficiency!  Why wouldn’t you want to be staying in the game?

 

If you’re a dealer that is looking to move forward, do some research or visit conventions that will demonstrate products to increase your business.  Not every product or vendor will be your perfect match but it’s good to know what’s out there and test some products.  I would hate for you to be left behind.

I have to admit that when Pinterest came out I had no intention of joining. I was already up to my ears in social media; ie Facebook, blogs etc. and Pinterest was one more thing to suck me in and suck up my time so I was saying NO! Well that lasted all of a few months..I know I’m weak. All of my friends were talking about this amazing recipe or that awesome home remedy  and every time I asked where they found X,Y or Z they replied “Pinterest”..duh Ashley. So I caved and joined and I love it and it doesn’t take up too much of my time and it has been a great source for everything and anything under the sun. Want to know how to get spots out of the carpet?? Just look on Pinterest. Want plans for a sandbox? Ask Pinterest! Want to learn how to defog your headlights at home? Ask Pinterest! So I was wondering if dealers use Pinterest and sure enough they do, here is a dealer I found. I am still having a hard time deciding as to how this benefits a dealer or if nothing else is it just important for dealers to be tuned into all forms of social media regardless if it directly benefits them on not? What do you think? If you are a dealer that is currently using Pinterest what are the benefits you see? We want to know!

Are you totally Twittered-out?  Is your mind blank, as you stare cluelessly at your computer screen, your fingers frozen above the keyboard?  Oh, I recognize this frustrating syndrome all too well, the frustration comes into play when you are stumped!  You have simply Tweeted and Twittered your heart out, and can think of nothing else worthy of posting.

Hopefully I can help in your quick  recovery!  Here is  list  of  ideas that I bet has something on it that is worthy of a Tweet which you might have over-looked……

Trivia tweets about the history of your dealership and your brand(s)

News and announcements from your brand

Interesting news from and about the auto industry

Tweet weekly deals, coupons, specials and sales announcements

Tweet daily tips on your vehicles – seasonal car maintenance, driving in different  weather conditions, recalls…

Announce a “fan-of-the-week” with some incentives or freebies to the winners and then post pics of them and their winnings

Recognize your “employee-of-the-week” (-month or –quarter) with an ‘at a boy, and post a pic of them

Post your dealership’s blog updates along with the link

Ask for input on what blog topics your followers want to read

Share the upcoming events at the dealership and follow-up by Tweeting pictures afterwards

Share the community and fund-raising events you are participating in and follow-up by Tweeting pictures afterwards

Post light-hearted one-liners, jokes, quotes, daily inspirations for some fun

Tweet about local and national upcoming sporting events

Post dealership milestones, awards and recognition

Tell people about open job positions and opportunities at your dealership

Invite people to share their experiences with their new car and with your dealership, even better if they post a picture

Search your brand name and respond to tweets that are about you

Participate in the relevant hashtags – which will get you more visibility

Follow people and make acknowledgement via tweets

Show your appreciation by thanking those people who have recently followed you

Direct people to all your social media efforts (facebook, LinkedIn, Word Press…) by tweeting about them

Post a photo of a cool concept car, your sales and service departments, your favorite booths at NADA….

Tweet well wishes to everyone for all the holidays

Recognize the many National Awareness Months – Safety Month, Car Care Month, Crime Prevention Month, and many more….

Followers love a daily “tweet-greet” – tell them “good morning”, wish them well…

Ask your followers for responses or stories – What was their first car, When and why did they get their first traffic ticket, What is their favorite car, What was the longest driving vacation they have taken…..

I hope this list has helped, and look forward to reading your Tweets!

Have you ever written a blog or read one and thought, “What is that, I will never use that information!” Well, I think my blog on Facebook rankings may have been one of those, it was a little ahead of it’s time for our industry. Here is some great information and I hope it makes a difference in your efforts. Facebook fan pages are a great marketing tool for any business – if used properly. We all know most people become fans of your business on FB because they are looking for special deals or content they can’t get without extensive research, such as recalls or new rebates. So once you build your fan base, how do you stay engaged with them?

Have you ever wondered why certain company’s or people’s post always shows up on your FB page, while others you just never see? This is not by accident; there is a formula that RANKS each post.

At the highest level of this algorithm it is very simple, every item that shows up in your news feed is considered an Object and all Objects are ranked.

Here is the formula:

Affinity * Weight * Time Decay = Rank

Definitions:

Affinity = score between viewing user and content creator
• First, there’s an affinity score between the viewing user and the item’s creator — if you send your friend a lot of Facebook messages and check their profile often, then you’ll have a higher affinity score for that user than you would, say, for an old acquaintance you haven’t interacted with in years.
Weight = create, comment, like, tag, etc…volume
• Second, there’s a weight given to each type of Object. A comment has more importance than a Like, for example.
Time Decay = how long ago the content was created
• And finally there’s the most obvious factor — time. The older an Object is, the less important it becomes.
STOP! I know what you’re thinking, and no, you don’t have to do all the manual calculations yourself to determine if you are doing a good job. Tools have already been created for you to check the Rank of your Facebook fan page. Follow these steps:

1. Go to your Facebook account and click “Insights” (on the far left), then export the insights data as CSV and download to your computer. NOTE: You must be the admin of your FB page to export this data.

2. Visit www.edgerankchecker.com and follow the instructions.

Now that you have your score, see how you stack up:
0-3 is below average
4-7 is average
7+ is above average
And scores above 20 (such as Coca Cola and Pringles) are excellent!

So how do you improve your post ranking?

This is the part that is very simple. What do YOU like to see as a consumer when you visit posts or pages?

• Post content that attracts interaction
o Ask questions that will encourage a response
• Ask people to “Like” your content, and do the same for them
• Use media as much as possible in your post. Video and Pictures =WIN!

Another way to improve your ranking is to eliminate some of your “dead fans”, fans who are in a different country or Spam Fans that you know will never comment and are not even close to your area. This will help: # of Fans / # of interactions = Affinity weight.

I wish you all great success with your FB and Social Media efforts. If you have any questions or want to improve your Social Media efforts, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or call me. In addition, if you need custom FB applications to market your vehicles, parts and service, or need to monitor your reputation, Liquid Motors can help. Please take a minute to “Fan” us on FB and “Like” this blog.

Repeat after me, “Facebook and Twitter are not selling tools”, again, but louder, “FACEBOOK AND TWITTER ARE NOT SELLING TOOLS!”, again….
`I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see auto dealerships continuing to sell on these social (repeat…SOCIAL) networking sites. When I posted a tweet earlier, I saw that a dealership had posted 14 different tweets about 14 different listings. How frustrating, and somewhat insulting, for a potential customer to get on their Twitter or Facebook account to socialize and engage, just to find their account full of annoying sales pitches! These sites are not advertising tools, they are PR tools and you are the spokesperson. Be engaging and interesting and be part of the conversations about your brand and with your community. Don’t be the “stereotypical car salesman” that has gone to the Internet to find his prey. That approach doesn’t work in person, so what makes you think it will work online?

The Internet has definitely changed the way people shop for products and services. Instead of having to get in their car and drive around to get information about their next product or service everything is now right at their fingertips. It is this simple fact that has made prices for goods and services even more competitive than ever. They days of having a captive market you could sell to at any price are pretty much over. Buyers are in some cases even more knowledgeable about your products than your own sales personnel. So if all things are equal why would someone buy from a company if the price is identical at a store 10 miles closer to home? This is where the wonderful world of Social Media Marketing comes in to play.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter started out as a way for individuals to information amongst the people they know and trust. I use the keyword TRUST here strategically. Soon social media made a shift into the business world. If individuals can communicate amongst each other it only made sense that businesses could share the latest and greatest about their companies. Now just like before we ever had these networking sites or even the Internet for that matter people tended to buy goods and services from people they trusted. They did not have elaborate sites such as Facebook to instantly share their experiences they communicated with the people they know around their towns.

The main benefit of going social is that it gives businesses a way to become more visible not just to the masses but to the people’s most inner circle within these masses. By building a level of trust with one person that “fans” your page you instantly gain the trust of the people that trust “their” opinion.

Social media marketing needs to be a conversation, a natural process people use to communicate and connect with one another.

With Thanksgiving around the corner I wanted to use this chance to blog about how thankful I am to work with such an amazing staff here at Liquid Motors. I am often asked by potential customers what differentiates Liquid Motors from all of the other providers in the marketplace and my number one answer is that the support our company provides our stores is unsurpassed by anyone. It is this simple fact that allows me to go out and sell our products and services and know that I can 100% backup everything that I promise. So with this in mind I’d like to wish the staff here at Liquid Motors and all of our customers a Happy Thanksgiving.

For those dealership’s with a Twitter account, I am sure you have fallen victim to the “What do I post now?!” blues. No need to fret, it happens to the best of the Tweeters out there. Sometimes it is difficult (at times, impossible!) to come up with anything unique and interesting to tweet. As a dependable back-up, we share links to articles we’ve read, along with the article headline, and call it a day.

Sound familiar? UH OH! Unfortunately, making this a routine practice can lead to heavy-lidded Twitter followers that have a tendency to nod off while reading your ho-hum tweets. Fight off the potential threat of link boredom by mixing up your Twitter strategy and not simply linking to someone else’s content.

Tweet questions – People love sharing their thoughts and ideas, and asking a question is a great way to get a response from your followers. Make it personal for them, ask what their first ride was, or something nostalgic for them to respond to.

Tweet tips – People love anything that can make their lives easier. Followers will appreciate (and hopefully re-tweet) automotive tips, as well as household, family, travel, cooking tips…and more.

Tweet opinions – Don’t be timid, tweet your opinion on everything from current world events to local community gatherings. The sky is the limit, with no need to fear the “What do I post now?!” blues.

You get the idea here, just mix things up a bit and you will be rewarded with an engaging Twitter presence and tweets worthy of being shared!

I was browsing through the latest delivery of one of Dealer Communications eNewsletters when an article caught my eye – “Consumer Reports Index: Sentiment Plunges To Lowest Level Since December 2009”. Being a person who likes to look at surveys and statistics, I began to read through the article. The article contains survey data and analysis conducted by Consumer Reports around various categories including consumer outlook, financial troubles, employment, stress and purchase behavior. Besides being an interesting read, at least to me, the article also got me thinking about how this information could be used to help increase the marketing effectiveness of a business.

The overall findings in the Consumer Reports study are a bit depressing:
• Consumer sentiment dropped to 43.4 a 5.1 point drop in only one month – this indicates a more pessimistic consumer attitude toward their finances.
• Financial difficulties were reported 10 points higher than the previous month at 60.6 – indicating many more households are experiencing problems paying bills.
• The Employment Index fell to 49 another drop from the previous month and reportedly the largest monthly drop in 2 years.

So what got me thinking about marketing in the midst of all of these woeful numbers? By reading between the lines and looking at the secondary points within the article, you can find data on which categories are faring the best. While the overall consumer outlook is bad, the report indicates the most optimistic consumer groups are ages 18-34 and households with $100k or more income. Consumer retail behavior was actually up from the previous month despite the negative outlook. Vehicle purchases remained static month to month and forecast for new car purchases are expected to increase in following months. Looking at these points, it is possible to see where your marketing efforts and money might best be spent.

So how flexible are you in your marketing efforts? Are you able to review data such as this and make changes based on your analysis or are you locked into doing the same things month after month. I am not suggesting you should make a massive change to your philosophy based on a single article or report but imagine how much more efficient capitalizing on current situations would be. The phrase ‘throwing good money after bad’ comes to mind; being locked into committing time and money pursuing markets that are returning less and less results or are predicted to do so is counter-productive.

So take a look at this study and let us know what you think. How flexible are your marketing efforts and have you seen a return on investment from being flexible? If you wish to see the article in its original post, it can be found here: Consumer Reports

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