The use of social media is becoming the norm for automotive retailers digital strategy.
According to research by Trader Media Group, parent of Auto Trader, its use, whether in blogs, tweets or online profiles. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are becoming key tools in marketing strategies to reach potential buyers. It says each should become part of the ‘marketing mix’.
“The challenge is to use this means to engage with the consumer in a constructive way, but this requires an element of bravery,” said Nick King, Trader Media Group market research director.
“Done well this can be invaluable in helping the car industry improve the way it operates.
"The research shows consumers expect to be able to engage with their preferred brands through social media.
“The best performing sites had the social networking sites accessible via the homepage.”
Essentials for effective use of social networking include relevant, engaging and updated content.
The increasing confidence of consumers to use mobile technology such as iPhones and Blackberrys, has been another phenomenon revealed in the research – carried out for the Auto Trader Click Awards which for four years now has rewarded excellence in the use of digital technology in the automotive retail sector.
“We are starting to see a real shift in consumer behaviour,” said King.
“Whereas the internet changed a consumer from the perspective of product knowledge, empowering them to make better informed purchase decisions, the fact that technological advances allows access to information whilst negotiating in a showroom will not have been lost on them.
“Mobile optimised sites are becoming critical in capturing a share of mobile commerce, whether it is buying a car or organising a service.”
Key findings in the Auto Trader Click Awards research:
Year-on-year improvement in email response times, but still poorer performance compared to the telephone. This could be a point of differentiation, providing you can commit to replying within 24 hours
Car supermarkets lead the way on customer service with Motorhouse showing best telephone and email customer service focussed on speed of response, knowledgeable and friendly staff
Motoring site homepages are not matching other retail sectors in terms of speed of loading and ease of navigation. Users are also put off by overuse of Flash or overly complex sites.
Sites by Land Rover, Fiat, Ford Retail and Robins & Day are achieving highest scores in the sector
Net Promoter scores, representing users' willingness to promote the site with the higher the score the more likely the recommendation:
Motor manufacturers: +3
Dealer groups: -18 (Top: Pentagon Group + 17)
Independent dealers: - 25 (Top: Imperials +7)
Car supermarkets: +7 (Top: The Car People +29)
> For Click Award winners and best practice highlights see the AM ezine. Sign up for AMe here.