SPONSORED FEATURE: Making social media part of your sales strategy

Last November, Auto Retail Network named Cambria Automobiles’ Motorparks website as the most outstanding example in the franchised dealer sector. However, the award-winning site isn’t the only digital initiative that’s paying dividends for the group.

Since 2014, Cambria has worked with eCRM specialist agency Marketing Delivery to deploy a comprehensive Social Relationship Management (SRM) programme. As a result it has honed a successful strategy that is generating a tangible, sustained return on investment.

“We were quite early adopters of social media, but we were really only using it for reputation management and sharing dealer news,” says Cambria’s marketing and CRM director, Ian Godbold. “If you’d visited our Facebook page three years ago, you’d only have seen things like handover photos or news about our associates’ charity work. The SRM strategy has made a huge difference to our activity.”

Localised strategy

The group’s social media strategy focuses on creation and curation of high quality localised content, supported by targeted advertising. “When we first started using social media, I was of the opinion that we should be using the platforms to help build the brand,” says Godbold.

“However, Marketing Delivery’s team counselled us on the value of a localised social strategy, resisting the temptation to seek large numbers of followers for the sake of it and instead aiming to capture a very local and highly engaged audience for each of our dealers.”

Social media collaboration across the group involves sales, aftersales and customer services input. “The latter is particularly important,” adds Godbold. “Dealers often think of social media as being full of customer complaints, but we use positive feedback gathered by eCRM as part of our social marketing, sharing praise from local people who are genuine customers.”

High-impact targeting

On Facebook in particular, organic content has limited scope, because 40% of users will never ‘Like’ any brand pages. These users therefore have to be targeted with paid-for promotions, and Marketing Delivery’s SRM programme uses dealer website tracking data to push adverts to in-market buyers who have already engaged with the dealer group.

“A customer might come to us first through a classifieds channel such as Auto Trader, but it’s often the targeted Facebook adverts that are bringing them back to us the second time.” Godbold calculates value on a ‘cost per engagement’ basis, and believes that the return on investment from Facebook is now challenging more conventional online marketing.

“The cost-per-click for Facebook advertising runs at anywhere between 50% and 80% less than equivalent Google campaigns, but the more relevant figure for me is the cost-per-engagement. I know of some dealers who are paying Google almost as much for a click-through as I am paying Facebook for an engagement, so it’s easy to see the value from social media.”

“I’ve heard people in the industry say that targeted Google advertising is like a ‘digital airstrike’. Retargeting users through Facebook is much smarter, though – it’s more akin to sending in an unmanned drone.”

Modern metrics

Monitoring the metrics for the SRM programme requires a comprehensive tracking system. Cambria employs Google Analytics and the advanced Tag Manager on its website, which allows it to track every link that’s clicked.

Godbold emphasises the need to set relevant KPIs for the programme: “I could tell you that our Facebook reach increased seven-fold over a 12-month period to October last year, but that’s only one part of the story. What I’m most interested in is user engagement. We work with Marketing Delivery to ensure that our channels continue to attract a highly relevant audience.”

By tracking every step of the buyer’s journey, Cambria has identified the increasingly significant role that social media is playing in the consideration phrase. “Our social media channels are typically not a customer’s first online engagement with us, nor are they the last, but we are definitely seeing a greater number of sales where our targeted social media programme has played a vital role.”

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