Marketers and dealers have one thing in common: We both tend to “silo” different elements of our industries without thinking about it.
Think of how your service department, sales floor, F&I office and administrative office are each treated like their own separate worlds much of the time. But in fact, they’re all intricately connected. They affect one another’s day-to-day operations constantly, and they’re all working toward the same goal: the success of the whole dealership.
Marketers can fall into this trap with the various methods, services and solutions we prescribe to help dealers maximize their success. After all, it’s easy to look at two areas as different as SEO and data segmentation and miss how they connect to a broader strategy.
In the case of your social media presence and digital reputation, the connection goes even further. Thanks to how digital technology and internet use are evolving, managing your reputation online and managing your social media presence have become two sides of the same coin.
Blurring the Lines in the Digital World
It’s making less and less sense to make arbitrary distinctions between managing your digital reputation and your social media presence.
Why? There are a few reasons:
- More and more of the customer journey is happening online, before the customer ever makes direct contact with your dealership. That includes researching customer reviews and ratings of your business and checking out your social media presence.
- Synchronization between platforms is increasing. Consider apps and plug-ins that allow you to embed ratings and reviews on your social media page or display your inventory directly in the social media feeds of consumers who’ve expressed interest on your website, app or one of your online ads.
- As we live more of our lives digitally, the messaging your customers see online should be cohesive in the same sense that traditional advertising — magazine placements, mailers, billboards, newspaper ads, television, radio, etc. — should be.
The idea of your website, your social media presence and your public-facing reputation on Google or Bing all being separate entities that need separate attention is outdated.
Think of the Customer Holistically
What’s a sensible alternative? A holistic marketing strategy. As these different marketing channels bleed into each other and the digital ecosystem continues to take on a less siloed nature, your approach should reflect that shift.
Now, we have to make an important distinction here: I’m not advocating for one-size-fits-all marketing. There are still important differences between managing reviews on a search engine, interacting on a social media page or implementing good web design across devices.
But a holistic approach recognizes that these different channels can serve each other — and that they’re all going to simultaneously inform the digital customer journey. Good reviews become useful promotional content on your social feed or your website, while your responsiveness and professionalism on your social page boosts your reputation online.
Or, consider the unparalleled targeting-by-demographic opportunities that are built into social media platforms. With the right marketing partner, you can get your inventory in front of warm leads like never before.
OEMs recognize this as well. Dealerships who rely on marketing partners are increasingly expected to have a single provider handling both reputation management and social media management.
So, what’s the takeaway for dealers who recognize that they’ve unnecessarily siloed their reputation management and social media management, but aren’t sure what to do about it?
Here are a few considerations to get you moving in the right direction:
- First, decide if you want to handle this responsibility in-house or rely on a marketing partner. If you choose the latter, understand the vendor’s capabilities and track record for providing timely responses to customer reviews, being professional in social media interactions, leveraging social media advertising opportunities and so on.
- Re-evaluate the current messaging across your digital channels. Make sure they’re in alignment and have the same underlying goal: driving customers to your site and toward a buying decision.
- Remember, as reputation management and social media management have become two sides of the same coin, many of your marketing assets (such as positive reviews or viral social media campaigns) could find new life in a repurposed format, enhancing value at no additional cost.
What each of these takeaways has in common is they all stem from a common mindset: viewing the digital customer journey holistically, with interrelated elements happening simultaneously.
For dealers who embrace that shift in thinking and take the time to re-evaluate their current digital approach, there are abundant opportunities for everything from increasing sales to improving customer satisfaction and retention.