One of the biggest threats to dealers and lenders during an economic recovery isn’t necessarily the customer’s inability to take on payments here and now — it’s the uncertainty of whether today’s income will be there tomorrow. People are saving their money, delaying major purchases, and avoiding taking on new debt. But with the WALKAWAY vehicle return protection program, dealerships and lenders can offer customers a proven safety net that gives them the confidence to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle.
One of the latest tools used in auto dealership marketing as part of social media promotions is the concept of gamification. Used by Ford in marketing the Fusion through social media, gamification is a way to engage customers on a completely new level.
What is Gamification?
Gamification engages customers by using game-like structures to make an activity more interactive. Previously, marketers used sweepstakes or prizes to encourage customers to review a product or visit a dealership. With gamification, as the consumer plays the game, they reach higher “levels” and accrue points or rewards. Used by other industries for some time, gamification is a relatively new concept for auto dealership marketing.
Individual Dealership Uses to Increase Service and Sales
Gamification works well in the auto retail environment. With statistics indicating that 25% of all Facebook users play games on their Facebook pages, using gamification in auto dealership marketing makes sense, and be used as a way to encourage users to learn more about your company and inventory. Gamification gives users an additional opportunity and reason to engage with the dealership and spend time on their social sites.
Game techniques could teach consumers about specific customer service benefits offered by a dealership, such as convenient online service scheduling or free loaner cars during the service appointment. Games could encourage customers to make payments online while earning loyalty points that are redeemable for discounts on service or other incentives. They could also serve to educate the customer about new inventory. Users that play the dealership’s game have a first look at “what’s next” for the dealership, including upcoming events and sales.
Grapevine Ford and Lincoln, based in Grapevine, Texas, uses gamification on Facebook with their “Bouncing Balls” application. Players engage with the game in an attempt to win a free iPad 2. The application includes a daily “Leaderboard” which displays the top players and their scores. Grapevine Ford launched this application in order to increase their Facebook fans to over 3,000 members. By promoting the “Bouncing Balls” game, Grapevine Ford will not only engage their audience, but they will increase their overall Facebook community.
An engaged online community of more than 3,000 members means that this dealership possesses a unique opportunity to reach new customers. Users will remember Grapevine Ford and Lincoln as the dealership that innovates online and offers great prizes for loyal customers. And when it comes time for a user to purchase a new vehicle, Grapevine Ford and Lincoln will be at the top of the list!
With online gaming increasing daily, incorporating gamification into an auto dealership marketing campaign enables the customer to have fun while learning about the dealership and while earning incentives or creating a loyalty account. For more information on how you can use digital media to enhance your car dealership’s online presence, please visit our website or contact us.
This entry is the second in a two-part series on increasing visibility and leads through auto dealership marketing. In Part One, we discussed the need to assess how you look online to potential leads. Today, we’ll detail two tactics for turning customer reviews and web visits into sales leads.
Online lead generation consists of a few key elements:
- Making your website easy to find through SEO
- Having current inventory, specials and incentives available through only a few clicks
- Strategically developing relationships with potential customers online
- Making it as easy as possible for potential customers connect with you and ask your sales department questions about inventory or pricing.
We’ve given you tips on SEO, and chances are your website already gives the customer easy access to your inventory. But as you know, customer service is a crucial part of running a successful auto dealership. Consumers have more options than ever to source a potential car purchase, and it’s important to not lose leads through an undeveloped online strategy.
What do you currently do if you see a negative review or other unflattering content about your dealership? First, if you found the review on a personal blog or social media site, you should contact the reviewer directly. If it was a customer review site or news article, consider putting out a public response through your own website and social media sites. Some online review sites will allow the business owner – you – to respond directly.
Do your research about the issue, then formulate a response. Give them a direct number to call to rectify the situation. Consider a customer stumbling on a bad review with absolutely no response from the dealer. Now consider that customer reading the bad review and seeing that the GM personally responded to the issue and offered his phone number to rectify it. We’ve seen it happen and we’ve seen this type of response have an impact.
It’s also important for auto dealerships to have a standard response policy for all customer review sites and social media channels. For example, let’s say a user writes “I love the new Chevy Volt” on your dealership’s Facebook page. This person isn’t necessarily shopping for a car, but that doesn’t mean you and your sales staff can’t turn this situation into a lead. Consider responding with interest and provide some value. A good response could include, “We love the Volt, too. Have you seen the model in cobalt blue? Take a look at our newest photo album to see it!”
Working a lead online takes more effort than emailing potential customers pricing deals or specials. At EFG Companies, we recommend providing value and interesting content to keep online users engaged.
Designate a Section of Your Dealership’s Website as a “Lead Funnel”
Once you’ve established a conversation with a potential lead online, it’s important to take the conversation to the next level. Consider our Facebook Chevy Volt conversation from earlier. After the user looks at your photo album, they may ask another question or make a comment on it. We recommend thanking the user for their comment and then directing them to take another action. For example, “Thanks for liking the photo! Are you interested in finding out more about the new Volt? Feel free to contact us directly here.” Then incude a link to your dealership’s “Contact Us” page.
To go one step further, we’ve found that while you’re interacting in the social realm, staying there has the most impact. For example, direct them to a page on your website where actual customers have provided testimonials about the Volt, or to your video library where you’ve featured very excited new Volt owners.
Working online leads is an art form, not a science. Rest assured that it may take time for your sales staff to respond accordingly to online feedback and convert leads into sales.
Have questions about researching how your appears dealership online? We’d be glad to help.