‘Facebook for Dating, Websites for Mating’ – 2013 vs 2023

Published: June 2023

We recently came across an article by Marketing Delivery published in Automotive Management in 2013! Ten years later, we were intrigued to see how much of what we were saying is still relevant now and how far we, and the automotive industry, have come over the last decade.

How does social media fit in with a car dealer’s online marketing plan?

2013: One thing is for sure, dealers simply cannot choose not to participate in social media anymore. Even though more time is spent on Facebook than any other website, many dealers seem unaware of the importance of Facebook in their digital marketing strategy.

Customers expect to engage with a business and will generate content regardless, everything from recommendations, complaints, and check-ins. So, it’s better to actively manage that content rather than let consumers drive what information is displayed about you unchecked.

Engaging with people on social media can increase their loyalty and advocacy, which is important in the car industry, where customers visit so infrequently.

2023: Although all the information above is still accurate, there are now many other social media platforms that should feature in a dealer’s digital marketing strategy, including Instagram and, where possible, TikTok.

Furthermore, the most significant change is the adoption of paid advertising across social media. From the Meta platforms to LinkedIn and TikTok, it’s essential for dealers of all sizes to include social media advertising in their marketing budgets to enable them to reach existing and conquest audiences in their local area with a mixture of informative, engaging and tactical content designed to keep them front of mind or trigger consumer action when the time is right.

For example, dealers can now increase the exposure of their available new and used stock with ‘Automotive Inventory Ads’ via our SocialStock feature. Dealers can engage potential customers and promote their available stock across Social Media.

We can receive a feed of the latest available vehicles from website providers daily to populate dealers’ social media catalogues. Our SocialStock Ads are dynamic, trackable and can target existing and conquest audiences, driving traffic back to dealer websites.

With sophisticated software, we can ensure Ads are as relevant as possible for the desired audience. For instance, we can segment your stock feed by ‘Fuel Type’ and target those most interested in EV vehicles across your AOI. We can also enhance your segmentation to include ‘Days in Stock’ if you wish to focus on ageing stock – an option available with or without fuel-type targeting.

A managed Facebook presence is essential.

2013: Check-ins to Facebook places are fast increasing in popularity and an amazing driver of reach to friends of Facebook fans. However, there are many dealers who do not have a Facebook page set up correctly, so the check-ins do not get linked to the business at all.

Social media influences consumers’ perceptions of a brand or dealership, both positively and negatively: 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, but only 14% trust marketing.

Customers are checking companies out on social media before diving into the sales world of their website and are taking longer to consider their purchase options online, hence less time visiting a physical dealer environment.

2023: This is more prominent than ever, especially post-pandemic. We know consumers now spend much longer researching potential cars online before visiting a dealership in person. According to research commissioned by eBay Motors Group in their 2023 Consumer Insight Panel survey, buyers are now expected to spend an average of 42 days searching for their next car.

Further data shared by Meta shows that 54.9% of Facebook users research brands on the platform, increasing to 62.3% on Instagram, which means having an organic content strategy alongside any paid activity is still essential.

Optimising websites for conversions.

2013: The website is the shop window and a deciding factor for consumers whether to visit a dealership. Nearly three-quarters of people would go elsewhere if a dealer was too slow in answering an online question, and four out of five would do so also if the answer was of poor quality.

Customers are adopting new technology and media, and the smart dealers are keeping up!

2023: The automotive industry has likely seen more digital advances in the three years since the pandemic than ever before. Consumers are utilising social media platforms and websites as their primary research tools, and dealers are typically more open to technology and automation than in previous years.

Websites will always be a critical part of the customer journey, as is how quickly and effectively dealers handle enquiries.

Results from our recent consumer survey show that potential car buyers want dealers to follow up with relevant alternatives if their preferred make and model is not available immediately. More than two-thirds say if they could not find what they wanted, they would be more likely to remain in contact with those dealers that email about used stock that closely matches their initial enquiry.

Our Stock Alerts feature keeps undecided car, van, or bike customers engaged. Whenever their enquiry hasn’t progressed to a sale after seven days or following a website enquiry form submission, the customer is auto-subscribed to receive ‘Stock Alert’ emails. Bespoke messages are sent matching the customer’s requirements using pre-set criteria from their initial enquiry. Paired with daily feeds from your website provider, mean ‘Stock Alert’ messages showcase the most up-to-date stock, images, and pricing.

As for Marketing Delivery, we’re ten years older and, of course, wiser. With over 230 combined years working in the automotive industry, and the insight of over 450 dealer clients, we’re able to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry to ensure we continue offering the best marketing automation solutions.

For more information on how we can support your social media advertising, organic content management or a no-obligation demo of our Stock Alerts feature, contact us today.

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