page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: October 2014 My title page contents

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Make Your Dealership's Brand More Powerful

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Make Your Dealership's Brand More Powerful

Influencer Marketing: How It Can Raise The Value Of An Auto Dealership's Regional Brand 

I have seen automotive digital marketing emerge from being a curiosity in the minds of most car dealers, and become the generally accepted "Smart Money" portion of a dealership's marketing communications budget...
Along the way, the "Content Marketing" category within automotive digital marketing has been transformed by a few savvy car peeps into being referred to as "Influencer Marketing".  The term has a natural positive vibe within the auto industry, which has always been chock full of car buyer influencers (Third basemen) for over a hundred years... So, it is easy to understand why Influencer Marketing is one of those buzz word combos that you come across every once in awhile, especially when a solution provider is trying to sell you something. However, very few car dealers and automotive marketers understand how to use this form of marketing effectively, with a tactical implementation designed to get the best results for a dealership within the scope of their overall digital marketing strategy.

What is Influencer Marketing?
In offline context, children, family, friends and colleagues - all are big influencers in the consumers' decision to buy cars, get vehicles serviced or just about anything else. In online context, influencers are individuals who have a persuasive voice, authenticity and an audience on the web. Car Dealers can leverage these social influencers to gain voice in user content and feedback surrounding their products and services. This is what influencer marketing is all about... Extending your dealership's brand and messages through cultivated advocates.

In other words, one can define influencer marketing as a subset of automotive digital marketing, where a car company/dealership focuses on recruiting and enrolling people who have an established credibility and audience on various social media platforms to spread the good word about its brand, people and offerings.

Why Influencer Marketing Makes Sense for Car Dealers
Influencer marketing is a powerful and significant tool which should play an important role in a dealership's social media strategy. What makes this tool so important? Because automotive consumers are listening to people online before, while and after making their vehicle purchase decision... While at the same time traditional ads are becoming less important and less credible to these very same automotive consumers.

A Nielsen study suggests that influencers on social media help grab those audiences who have begun tuning out of traditional ads, banners etc, and have become more active on social media.
74% of automotive consumers make their purchasing decisions on the basis of what is said on social media, reports a study conducted by digital marketing agency ODM Group. 78% respondents of this study said that the companies' posts on social media impact their purchases, while 90% of them trust peer recommendations, and ads are trusted only by 33%. As per the data shared by Mindshift Interactive, information by brand advocates is 70% more likelier to be seen as good and credible, and social media referrals are 71% more likelier to result in a purchase decision.

Highly Influential Content on Social Media?
Influencers on Facebook and Twitter seem to have a say on the digital medium. 92% of the social media influencers have an account on Facebook, and 83% of them post more than once per week. About 88% of these influencers have a twitter account, and 71% of them tweet at least once a week.

According to a research by SproutSocial, out of the 53% people who use Twitter to recommend any company, service or product, 48% purchase that product or service. Twitter is said to be the number one platform for influencing high dollar MSRP related purchase decisions, says research by Mashable.
Zafar Rais, CEO of MindShift Interactive says:
"Influencer Marketing is crucial in today's times towards building evangelism & adoption. As social media climbs the communication ladder with speed, businesses must further understand & embrace the value of influencers. Many popular brands in the region are approaching the 'Twitterati' as they play an important role in creating awareness, promoting products and in encouraging online communities to try new things. These influencers are passionate and when they are made to understand a brand appropriately & be part of it as ambassadors, they can be of great advantage towards helping your brand gain momentum and sustain it, which should be the ideal strategy."

Tips for Influence Marketing Success
When creating marketing campaigns and initiatives whose purpose is to influence your targeted audience's influencers using social media, automotive marketers should carefully consider the following factors and recommendations:

  • When scouting for influencers for your car dealership, go beyond the demographic filters and explore the passion and interests of your most powerful and connected potential influencers. This ensures a deeper connect and better fit between your dealership's product and services, with the right influencers.
  • Indulge and engage the influencers with high value content that interests them. This will add value that they appreciate and distill for their audience, which means better results for your dealership. Use your insider access as a franchised dealer to obtain information not yet available to the public and share on an exclusive basis with your influencers... Maybe even bring a few to various OEM sponsored meetings or "Ride and Drives" as if they are dealership employees.
  • Influencer Marketing is not about generating huge lead numbers or prospective buyer referrals; it is about building quality connections with your dealership's primary automotive consumer audience. So, be smart about it by focusing on the quality of interaction you get out of your influencer marketing approach.
  • Don't treat automotive influencers as if they are not as important as actual car buyers or service customers. Invest time and effort in understanding them and building a long-term relationship with these important marketing partners.
  • Keep track of how effectively the interaction and engagement initiatives involving your targeted influencers have generated results in the form of objective measurables, such as leads, conversations, referrals, attendance at dealership events, etc.
Brand Advocate Image:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty - Automotive Digital Marketing

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty - Automotive Digital Marketing

Going Beyond All-You-Can-Eat In Loyalty

When consumers think of loyalty programs, they typically think of racking up miles, or frequenting a business in exchange for rewards, perks or freebies.
No matter what business you patronize, there is a good chance that it is offering some sort of loyalty incentive. In fact, many argue that loyalty programs are so prevalent nowadays that they are losing some of the initial qualities that attracted consumers to them back some 45 years ago. Namely, that feeling of being treated special in exchange for the customer’s ongoing business and continued loyalty. Today, some loyalty programs choose not to even offer rewards. Instead they just provide the concept of receiving lower prices. Many grocery store chains have the regular price and then a loyalty member price. Sale prices are reserved just for members of their loyalty program.  Your information and transaction histories are exchanged with the grocery store for a slightly lower total at the checkout counter.

Loyalty programs have certainly evolved.
Many companies are shifting away from traditional rewards and offering experiences and other perks instead. The restaurant chain, Olive Garden, found that it’s “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promotion was by far the most popular. So it decided to take it a step further and last month introduced the “Never Ending Pasta Pass.” The pass allow customers to enjoy all-you-can-eat pasta as many times as the customer wishes for a period of up to 7 weeks. The offer also allows the customer to extend some of the pass’s perks to as many as 7 guests dining with them. Olive Garden made the offer exclusive by offering just 1,000 passes through their website, at a cost of $100 each.

They sold out completely in just 45 minutes.
Some may view this as a loss leader promotion. However, according to an article in USA Today, the restaurant chain came up with this promotion as it wished to provide a VIP experience for some of its most loyal and profitable customers.

Similar to the Starbucks metal gift cards that sell out annually, the Never Ending Pasta Pass offers Olive Garden’s most enthusiastic customers the opportunity to enjoy a VIP experience as many times as they like. It also generates instant (and quantifiable) revenue, while encouraging the pass holder to bring guests. This clever addition helps generate more revenue with each additional dining partner. In addition, a promotion like this (obviously) can generate press, blog articles and social media buzz. Olive Garden even teased consumers who were not able to purchase one by dangling carrots of extra passes that will be handed out through social media properties.

What do you think about adopting such a program as a car dealership?
Imagine offering a limited quantity season long car wash pass that includes some service perks over and above what you would normally do for a customer. Or some other privileges, while also extending discounts to the customer’s friends and family members that bring their vehicles in with them.

In general, people like to feel special. Whether it’s showing off a metal gift card at Starbucks, laying down the Never Ending Pasta Pass at Olive Garden, or getting an on-demand car wash without waiting. When creating incentives for your loyal customers, thinking outside the box can make them feel very special while providing a reason for them to bring new customers to your store. And that’s one of the most important attributes that any loyal customer brings to any business – more customers.

The Top Ten Auto News Stories of the Week: October 18 - 24

The Top Ten Auto News Stories of the Week: October 18 - 24 

  1. 11 Photos That Will Never Sell a Car Online

I wish I could have started a slow clap after reading this blog. Taking photos of vehicles for your inventory is an art and a science, and I’m glad somebody finally broke things down for us into something other than “Stock Photo vs. Real Photo”. Well done, John Sternal!

CarGurus and Truecar Among Top 5 Google PPC Spenders Across All Categories

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Local Media and Marketing Tactics for Car Dealers - Who Uses What and Which Works Best?

New Research Shows Which Local Media and Marketing Tactics Work Best for Car Dealers... According to their own perception!


BrandMuscle Research Report Reveals Local Media and Marketing Tactics Used by Car Dealers and other Local Franchised Business - But Does The Report Answer the Question About Who Uses What and Which Works Best?

Not too surprising to many of Automotive Marketing Professionals, traditional media remains a significant part of the local automotive marketing mix... The adoption of various new media tactics that have become available (including automotive digital marketing), is hindered by cost and for some dealers, complexity finds BrandMuscle [download page] in their recently-released study.


Results from the survey of franchised dealers and other local businesses with national franchise brands seem to indicate that digital marketing, while scoring high satisfaction rates for its effectiveness and ROI, tends to be seen as too complicated or time consuming by many of the car dealers not using it.


Get The Complete Market Research Report

The complete BrandMuscle research study and its findings can be downloaded by Professional Community members in PDF file format by using the "Save As" right-click command on the following link or the cover image below it:

BrandMuscle Marketing Research Report - State of Local Marketing 2014 


The study, based off a survey of “hundreds of local dealers, independents and franchisees across a wide range of industries” indicates that the top media tactics in use by local dealers and businesses are: 

  • Coupons (83%)
  • Direct mail (81%)
  • Local events (79%)
  • Email (72%)
  • Website (72%)
  • Community sponsorships (71%)

Tactics in use by half – or fewer – respondents include:

  • TV (50%)
  • billboards (45%)
  • magazines (45%)
  • Twitter (43%)
  • daily deals (29%) 


Cost Is A Factor 

The study suggests that the primary reason why local affiliates aren’t using digital tactics such as email, social, online display and paid search is because they are too expensive. Among those not using traditional media such as TV, radio and print, cost is the primary complaint.
Satisfaction With Results 
When it comes to satisfaction ratings for local dealers using various types of marketing and advertising media tactics, "local events" win out with 80% of dealers satisfied... Shown below are the satisfaction rankings followed by the usage and satisfaction charts published in the referenced report:
  1. local events (80%)
  2. coupons (77%)
  3. email (76%)
  4. direct mail (75%)
  5. Yellow Pages (48%)
  6. newspapers (46%)
  7. magazines (44%) 

Advertising Budgets

On the budget side of things, results from the survey indicate that newspaper, radio and community sponsorships occupy the largest shares of the overall pie.  Earlier this year, a study from Balihoo found that more than 8 in 10 national brands expected to increase their overall advertising budgets allocated to local media.

Details of Media Types Included in Survey

Direct MailDisplay & Rich MediaEmailFree-Standing Inserts & CircularsLocal & Directories / Small BizMagazinesMarketing BudgetsNewspapersOut-of-HomePaid SearchPromotions, Coupons & Co-opRadioSocial MediaSpending & SpendersSponsorshipsTrade Shows & EventsTraditionalTV Advertising


Sources of Data and Content: