Engagement vs. Conversions in Social Media Advertising

If you post it, will they come? That's the question many auto marketers are asking as they face a deluge of social media marketing options that promise huge audiences, but not necessarily direct sales. Worse yet, consumers say most of the vehicle information they find on social media sites isn't helpful, according to J.D. Power's 2016 Autoshopper study.

According to the survey, the number of people using social media to conduct research as they shop for a vehicle increased to 22 percent in 2016. Despite the 6 percent increase from 2015, consumers said social media sites aren't as helpful as auto shopping sites (more than 90 percent of new-vehicle shoppers visited a vehicle manufacturer's site during the buying process).

This doesn't mean social media can't help dealers and manufacturers increase sales, or that clicks that don't convert don't have value. Understanding the value of creating new-vehicle shopper engagement will help you use the four techniques below to increase the value of your social media marketing dollars.

Clicks vs. Conversions

Before you begin planning your social media advertising, it's a good idea to review the value of both clicks and conversions. The ultimate goal of your social media ads should be to create conversions, but not everyone who visits your landing pages or even digs deeper into your website after coming from a social media ad will buy from you. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Any meaningful engagement in the form of clicks that take consumers to your website creates a more informed potential buyer, and potentially a referral. So, creating engagement in itself brings you multiple benefits.

For example, people who click but don't convert during a visit or immediately after might buy from you weeks or months later. They might refer friends to you after learning about your products and services. Getting people to your site might also keep them away from your competitors' sites, or at least decrease the number of competitor sites they visit. Social media posts can also help consumers who have purchased from you avoid buyer's remorse, see you as an authority, improve post-purchase satisfaction, and increase long-term brand or dealer loyalty. Check your click-through rates to help judge the value of your social media campaigns after you place a value on click-throughs compared to conversions.

4 Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Ads

  1. Keep it simple.

Don't use social media ads to provide in-depth information. Tease potential vehicle buyers with questions they want answered or stories they want to read. Use social media posts, tweets, and videos to get people to click on links to landing pages that give you a better opportunity to start selling. Make these landing pages introductory to continue leading consumers to the information they want. Your initial goal with social media content is to generate leads that hopefully turn into dealer visits, or friend referrals that turn into leads.

Think of social media ads as a cover letter for a job. A cover letter is a teaser that makes people want to read your resume. Social media ads should tease consumers into wanting to read your "vehicles' resume."

  1. Use account-based marketing with landing pages.

Match your landing page look, feel, and content with the social media website to which it is linked. This makes the consumer feel as if she is continuing her social media exploration. For example, customize your landing pages by using a similar typeface and color scheme as the social media page from which the visitor just came.

  1. Encourage social sharing.

Vehicle buyers love to post pics of their new rides on their social media accounts. Make sure your blog posts, SEO articles, website pages, and other social media content have easy-to-click social-sharing buttons so consumers can share, re-tweet, Like, Pin, or otherwise refer your content to their friends. Make sure to include an obvious call to action to encourage sharing.

  1. Use images.

Content with images gets 94 percent more views than text-only blog posts or ads. Millions more people click Facebook and Twitter content if it has an image. Be careful not to default to vehicle photos. Create stories using images of people just like your target audience to create empathy and more interest from new-vehicle shoppers.