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Car buyers in lockdown trigger 80% social media enquiry upsurge

Jeremy Evans, managing director at Marketing Delivery

Car retailers are being urged to embrace social media to engage with car buyers who are taking to the Facebook during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown – sparking an 80% rise in online posts.

Early indications from data gathered by Marketing Delivery suggests that growing numbers of customers are turning to social media as record numbers of motorists seek to negotiate the return or replacement of vehicles financed on expiring three-year PCP deals set-up during the record registrations of March 2017.

One large dealer group has seen the number of impressions on its Facebook posts grow by 80% since the government advised people to stay at home – from 656,070 (March 6 to 15, 2020) to 1,179,615 (March 16 to 25, 2020).

The total reach of the group’s posts has also grown by 70% in that time, while the number of engaged users has increased by 18%.

  • AM is urging car retailers to share their experience of handling the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak with a quick-fire, three-minute, multiple choice survey. Please click here to take part.

Record numbers of motorists were expected to return to dealerships in March 2020, three years after a record 562,337 units were registered in the key numberplate change month.

And Marketing Delivery believes that customer communication via email campaigns and social media tools are still essential in order to manage the anticipated rise in enquiry volumes.

“Even though dealer facilities are closed and consumers are in lockdown, the agreements that commenced in spring 2017 will still need to be settled in some form over the coming weeks,” said Marketing Delivery managing director, Jeremy Evans. “And many thousands more customers will need to have the new temporary MOT rules explained to them.

“As well as the need for increased outbound communications, dealers are already seeing a very significant rise in online and social media enquiries, particularly with physical showroom visits on hold and many customers confined to their homes.

“This is only set to rise in the weeks ahead. Every resulting enquiry needs to be followed up if car retailers are to bounce back successfully when movement restrictions are lifted. Those dealers adopting a digital contact strategy, underpinned by automated email and social media interactions with customers, are most likely to sustain strong customer relationships and bounce back when life returns to normal.”

The need to continue nurturing customer leads and responding to enquiries online during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown has been highlighted by heycar chief commercial officer, Karen Hilton.

Quoted by AM this morning, Hilton said: “This situation will change and when it does dealers must be ready to build again.”

Marketing Delivery today (March 26) issued its tips for maintaining customer engagement during the coronavirus lockdown. It said:

Email campaigns

Email will have a key role to play in engaging with prospects in the weeks ahead. Marketing Delivery research has found that email is the most preferred channel to hear from dealers for car sales (47.6% of customers), and for MOTs and servicing work (48.3%) – far more than for any other communications method.

Automated electronic customer relationship (eCRM) tools enable sales staff to send volumes of relevant and personalised communications to existing customers and qualified prospects – and then direct responses back into the sales funnel – taking the burden off staff.

When customers turn to social media

Dealers with a stronger social presence are set to benefit at this time, with house-bound prospective customers more likely to spending time browsing social media or online classifieds.

40 million people in the UK already visit Facebook at least once a month, while 80% of those access it more than once a day – figures which are already showing signs of increasing during this prolonged period of self-isolation.

Facebook’s targeting functionality makes it an ideal platform for lead generation, customer conquest and communication.

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