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Dealership Social Marketing Recipe for Success

person with baking ingredients spread across the table in front of them cracking an egg
Article Highlights:

  • Dirty data clogs up your strategy and limits your success.
  • Choosing the right message is like choosing the right cake flavor.

Creating a successful social marketing strategy for your dealership can be a lot like baking a cake—there’s a bunch of ingredients that need to be properly prepared, measured, mixed, and successfully baked together for it to taste good. In other words, there’s plenty of room for error. Since baking (and marketing) isn’t everyone’s forte, we thought we’d share with you four things that can make or break your dealership’s social marketing recipe.

Prep Time: Your Audience Lists

The first step in baking a cake is washing your hands, right? Well a similar concept applies to your social marketing—it has to begin with clean data.

Without this crucial first step, dirty data clogs up your strategy and limits the success you can see from the start (which can waste your time and your money).

Let’s run through an example: Say you want to target consumers within a specific stage of life—maybe recent college graduates. To do this, you gather an audience list of shoppers in their early-mid 20s. Now, if your records are cleansed, you are able to send targeted social ads to young car buyers (easy-peasy), but with dirty data that age range becomes a lot wider—now your college grad message is being sent to people in the 20s, 30s, and maybe even 40s. With such a wide range of individuals your message is likely irrelevant to the majority of the people that see it (eek).

Quick Tip: Data that gets cleaned every few weeks is good, data that’s cleaned weekly is better, and data that’s cleaned every couple days or even daily is best. Any data that doesn’t fall into those 3 categories is (yep you guessed it) bad data for properly segmenting and targeting consumers.

Choosing a Flavor: Your Message

Now that you’ve got your squeaky-clean audience list, we need to talk about your message.

Choosing the right message is like choosing the right cake flavor—a shopper might get excited to hear you mention cake (or cars), but they’re ultimately going to be disappointed if you offer them chocolate and they wanted strawberry (or a truck when they wanted a sedan).

So how do you make sure that your message is relevant to the audience you’re targeting? There’s a few things that you can try:

  1. Test, test, test—just like baking, practice makes perfect. No one said your dealership had to choose just one ad. Try running 2-3 variations and see what sticks. Utilize what you learn to improve as you go.
  2. Gather intel right from the source—find someone(s) within your target audience that you can trust for honest and constructive feedback. Ask for opinions and suggestions for how you may improve your ads.
  3. Try layered targeting—layered targeting works by narrowing your audience down based on multiple targeting factors instead of just one. We’ll admit this one can get pretty granular, but hyper-focusing your audience can increase your engagement rate and ROI if done right. If you’re wondering what this looks like in action, here are a few examples:
  • Target customers who like the newest tech and have young children. Show them vehicles with new, enhanced safety features.
  • Target mid-age home owners and high-income jobs in the finance industry. Show them high quality vehicles – maybe ones with high trim levels or from luxury brands.
  • Target customers who actively support environmental organizations and enjoy travelling. Show them vehicles that are reliable and fuel efficient (maybe even electric or hybrid). Bonus points if you incorporate a service package focused on keeping their vehicle’s maintenance up-to-date and road-trip ready.

Quick Tip: When coming up with your message, don’t forget the impact of visuals—try to use images that match your target audience. This can help indicate to consumers that the message is meant for them.

The Secret Ingredient: Your Tone

Now it’s time to combine the ingredients and bake your dealership’s social marketing recipe (exciting right?!), but we didn’t tell you the secret ingredient yet—your tone.

The right message isn’t complete until you’ve considered how you’re going to say it. It’s important that your dealership not only has a brand voice, but that that voice is authentic and engaging. Finding a good combo can be a little difficult, but here’s a few tips for finding that perfect mixture:

  • Tell a story—shoppers like a clear beginning, middle, and end. Telling a story adds a structure to your content that can keep shoppers engaged and ready to hear what comes next.
  • Avoid sounding sales-y—buzzwords and filler language will feel empty to many of your customers. A clear and concise message is not only less misleading, it’s also more engaging.
  • Be personable—customers like seeing that businesses are made up of people just like them. Give your brand a little personality by using casual (relatable) language or even by adding a quick joke here or there.

Quick Tip: Emoticons are a lot like sprinkles. Adding one or two can really enhance your dealership’s tone, but don’t rely too heavily on them—no one likes a cake that’s all sprinkle.

The Presentation: Your Medium

And finally the last step—presentation. If you’ve ever watched a baking show, you’ll know that presentation is everything. A sloppily decorated cake might taste good, but we all want the one that looks neat and nicely decorated. The same can be seen in your social marketing.

Your dealership’s marketing strategy can have all the right elements, but it still needs to be presented in the right light to be successful. And there are all sorts of ads that your dealership can run too—image ads, carousel ads, video ads, lead ads, story ads, the list goes on.

So what medium is best? The answer depends on your dealership’s specific goals.

Video ads are, by far, the most engaging for consumers, but they work even better as a part of larger marketing mixes. As an example—maybe your dealership starts with Automotive Inventory Ads, which places ads for your available inventory across Facebook. These might help your dealership with retargeting efforts. Then maybe you drizzle on some image and story ads related to a promotion your dealership is running. Top this off with a video ad, and your dealership can expect to see a healthy ROI.

Quick Tip: A crucial (yet often forgotten) part of presentation is the timing. Generally speaking, dessert comes after dinner. You want to make sure that you’re reaching shoppers at the right stage of the buying journey, not when they’re only getting started on an appetizer.

Utilizing the combination of the right audience, message, tone, and medium, can be a great start to finding the perfect recipe for your dealership’s specific social marketing needs, but the good thing about marketing (and baking) is that you never have to start from scratch. Getting help from experts is a great way find sweet success in every step, without the hassle or the mess.

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Mollie Swygart is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Mollie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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