What are you doing to leverage social media as a platform for driving leads into your sales pipeline?
According to a new study by the CMO Council, social media is stimulating extensive auto-related conversations and content that create huge sales opportunities to identify likely buyers and engage them based on their individual preferences and purchase intent.
Social media is currently influencing purchasing behaviors and smart marketers should be doing more to capitalize on their investments and efforts.
The study states, “And while proving ROI may be elusive, few marketers should be content to watch from the sidelines.” I agree that you should never watch from the sidelines however, social media ROI is not as elusive as it seems.
We’ve never been in a more data-driven marketing environment. Technology now exists to measure and analyze social streams. Where before we blasted messages to the masses without much hope of ever knowing for sure if they were heard, today we use analytics to understand consumer attitudes, reputational issues, identify personal preferences and profile individual needs depending on where they are in the buying cycle. We can laser target those we identify as our ideal customers, engage them in conversations (as we would in real life) and guide them through to lead generation and ultimately, close the sale.
Social Media ROI is here.
In retail today, including automotive retail, too many owners are waiting for others to show them the way. Manufacturers are certainly not taking the leadership role so that creates something similar to a rudderless ship. Holding onto this idea that social media ROI is a myth stops good retailers from becoming great trusted resources in their community.
Erich Marx, Director of Interactive and Social Media for Nissan USA, states in the study that, “While measuring ROI still may be elusive, I believe there is a significant COI, or cost of ignoring. If you’re not at least swimming in the shallow end of the social pool, I would say you’re well behind where you should be.”
Folks, your customers are online, your inventory is online, why wouldn’t you and your salespeople be online? There’s plenty of evidence that social is a fertile channel of opportunity. Consider the following:
• 38% of consumers say they will consult social media in making their next car purchase.
• 23% of car buyers say they use social media to communicate their purchase experience.
• 84% of automotive shoppers are on Facebook, and 24% of them have used Facebook as a resource for making their vehicle purchase.
• 40% of new car purchases over the next 10 years will be made by millennials.
• 94% of millennial car buyers gather information online.
• Clicks on auto ads on Facebook climbed from 16 percent to 39 percent between October 2012 and April 2013.
Despite these and many other very compelling statistics, using social as a sales tool and lead generator is one area of opportunity that’s still in a very early phase of experimentation within many business, including the automotive industry. Social media can profoundly influence purchase decisions but somehow this is lost on many business owners. Steps need to be taken to integrate social media more directly into the customer acquisition process. This may be where dealers and other business get stuck. They’re still puzzled by what social media ROI actually looks like.
Social media ROI is not as elusive as some believe. I spent a good portion of my years managing car dealerships as a CFO or GM. Every time an employee or manager wanted to spend money, I insisted that they show me how it was going to improve our business. That behavior was ingrained in me from my childhood when my granddad was a car dealer in the 1950′s in Downtown Los Angeles.
I use the same approach with dealership social media solutions and ROI: “What’s it going to do for my clients?” I became a social media consultant and marketer because I saw the huge value (ie: leads and sales) it can bring to businesses.
Return on Investment requires nothing short of certain, deliberate thought and action. It’s not an endeavor where hip-shooting will do the trick. With social media ROI, a business must take these steps in order to track and prove the return on investment:
- Acquire a clear understanding of what you want to achieve – what success looks like to your business.
- Set clear objectives and goals.
- Develop a solid content strategy: who are you as a brand? Why do people buy from you? Who are your ideal customers? The deeper you go into these answers, the better your content will be.
- Design a winning promotion strategy: how you’ll grow your online community and build your fan base.
- Define your engagement strategy: how you’ll successfully monitor and engage with your community.
- Build the framework for your conversion strategy: how you’ll turn your fans into customers.
- Implement a system to analyze and measure your results.
Success is not just about measuring results. Your results MUST tie back to your objectives. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got social media ROI. The most common goals for marketers are traffic, leads and sales but you must dive deeper into those components. Sure the result you’re looking for is traffic, leads and sales but breakdown their foundational tactics and metrics. Create a solid plan on how you’ll get there!
Social media ROI is not a myth. Social marketing and online reputation management are cornerstones in revenue generation. While others my wait on the sidelines oblivious to the COI (cost of ignoring), isn’t it time you took action to grow your business and secure your store as a trusted retailer that everyone wants to buy from?