1. How has the pandemic impacted automotive marketing?
COVID has had a significant impact on the automotive industry in Canada. Firstly, we were exposed to major OEMs’ factories being shut down, slowing down production & supply. This has been compounded by the global microchip shortage which further impacted on production. The lack of new car supply & COVID-led pent up demand has resulted in a booming used car market across Canada currently, which has brought its own issues with dealerships facing acquisition costs higher than ever before at auctions.
2. What opportunities has the past year created for digital marketing for automotive dealerships or small businesses?
An interesting facet of the pandemic has been the shift to digital retailing with most dealerships seeing the opportunity to offer vehicle sales completely online as a realistic consumer demand during and post pandemic, influenced further by the emergence of only-online disruptors in the market here in Canada. The opportunity on the digital marketing side is to ensure dealerships are advertising their online services & maximizing education over the process to their potential customers. Whether or not 100% retail will become the norm in the near future is open to debate but dealerships not adopting and offering customers a hybrid model will miss the consumer adoption curve toward more purchase process control in automotive.
3. What are the top three social media marketing challenges you foresee automotive groups encountering in the near future?
My experience is from the paid social perspective so will answer in that regard. Number one is audience targeting – we have already been exposed to this since HEC rollout on FB/IG in Dec 2020 & iOS14.5 opt-out option brought to market in April 2021. What this means is advertisers will have less granularity for third party audience targeting & the industry response needs to be a higher focus on first party audience capture & data management. We are likely to continue to see digital privacy prioritization result in less tracking online so advertisers need to ensure they create first party customer segments they can leverage for advertising moving forward.
In the same vein, reporting on Social ROI is, and will continue to be, a more difficult task than the industry has been accustomed to. The iOS14.5 rollout has resulted in less visibility over post-click events so advertisers need to leverage third party reporting such as GA or rely on some form of statistical modelling of platform data & historical post-click data in tandem.
Stuck for a third so will go with what I assume is a difficult task in 2021 – social media marketing plan; understanding what channels to leverage, how & when, etc. Similar to the recommendation further below, businesses need to ensure they set themselves up as best they can to be able to audit the data from social media output – use UTM parameters & GA alongside social channel insights to test, learn & optimize for what platforms make sense for your business.
4. What are the top three digital marketing tips you would give to small businesses?
For this, I will focus only on Google MyBusiness (GMB) as I believe it is still incredibly underpenetrated in marketing despite the incredible upside available to consistent maintenance. And you definitely do not need any digital background to quickly optimize your business’ visibility on Google. 3 simple weekly recommendations to drive more exposure of your GMB would be:
- Update products & categories
- Respond to all reviews
- Add images
5. What are some metrics you’d recommend small businesses use to measure their digital marketing performance?
Firstly, set up Google Analytics on your website. It is quite user friendly & there is endless content online for training to attain relevant KPI feedback. I would suggest the most important metrics to consider here would be evaluating source traffic for high level KPIs to evaluate traffic quality (e.g. new users; bounce rate; time on site) & more business-specific goals (e.g. shopping carts started & shopping carts abandoned in ecomm).
I see that a lot of small businesses still allocate significant marketing output to organic social channels like Facebook where typically the visibility & engagement on organic posts is particularly low. It is very important that any small business owner leverages insight tools across social platforms to evaluate whether the time investment is showing a return – on Facebook in particular, it is very unlikely. Reallocate that time to GMB or higher ROI organic social activity.
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