Last month, I participated in a panel discussion about social and digital marketing at the Digital Dealer 21 convention in Las Vegas. In attendance were hundreds of automotive dealers ready to learn best practices in digital and social media.
As the panel discussion unfolded, one issue kept coming up again and again: accountability. Dealers wanted to know what kinds of results they should expect using social media. They wanted confirmation that they were getting adequate bang for their buck. They wanted to know the strategies that could help them grow their businesses.
I found this odd. While traditional media offer varying levels of accountability, social media (especially Facebook) is off the charts regarding accountability and transparency. In fact, it’s more accountable than the previous champion, direct mail, with only 20% of the cost.
Social media measures everything: open rates, clickthrough, and time of engagement. Given Facebook’s recent alliance with R. L. Polk, not only can social media target better than any medium in history, it can now track sales and ROI like never before.
You read that right. Social media generates proven sales. It conquests at impressive rates. And each sale can be tracked right back to the social media campaign that generated it.
But these clients aren’t even seeing this information. Why? Are their agencies not aware it exists? Are they even gathering the info that’s available to them? Are they withholding it from their clients instead of letting it guide everyone’s day-to-day decision-making?
Considering that social media has answered most of the accountability questions that older media can only raise, I thought it would be a good time to clear the air by providing the questions that every client should be asking their social media agency right now.
- “What sales can I expect from my social media campaign?”Direct response marketing in this powerful two-way medium is about results. And getting results starts with setting achievable goals. Your agency should know how many Facebook users are in-market for your products in any given geographic area. This will help you set your budget and estimate ROI before you spend a penny.
- “Who exactly are you are targeting with my campaign?”Are they targeting owners or conquests? Within what geographic area? Intenders or in-market shoppers? What are their hobbies and interests? Make sure your agency knows and can easily tell you. If they can’t, start shopping for an agency that can.
- “Can you show me why your creative will work?”Ask your agency for sample creative early in the process. Ask what specific ad units they will be running. Carousel ads? Video ads? How many per month? This will give you a feel for their strategic direction as you seek to generate clicks and leads.
- “What is your strategy for turning shoppers into buyers?”What’s their conversion strategy? Urgency? Offer exclusivity? Social proof? Reciprocity—like a $50 test drive offer? If you want your social media campaign to drive sales, you need the right conversion strategy suited to the right customer.
- “Will you deliver leads directly into my dealership CRM system?”Unfortunately, most social media vendors still deliver Facebook leads into their client’s Facebook business page account. There, they get lost or ignored. Your agency must deliver all your hot leads directly into your dealership’s CRM system in real-time. And for free!
- “Will you give me a campaign performance guarantee?”Social media is so accountable, that it’s also predictable. So you should demand at least a minimum level of performance. If your agency isn’t confident enough to provide a sales guarantee, that may be telling you something about their capabilities.
- “Once my campaign begins, will you keep me updated, and prove that you are delivering the results I was promised?”Are you getting weekly or monthly updates on key campaign metrics, like leads, showroom visits and sales? You should be. Real-time sales matching is now possible on Facebook through their partnership with R. L. Polk. Ultimately, you should know your cost per impression, cost per shopping activity, cost per lead, and cost per sale. (Try and get that from a TV buy!)
- “Will you give me the service I need?”When you have a question or concern, make sure you know who your Account Manager is. Does he/she have lots of other clients? Will he/she take your calls and answer your questions? Will they be pro-active and call you with ideas and concerns? If you aren’t receiving this level of service, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
- “Will you give me a full sales match?”If your campaign includes lead generation ads, you should get a sales match on all leads. EXAMPLE: Your campaign generates 300 leads. You end up selling to 60 of them—or 20%. What happened to the other 240 leads? Did they buy? If so, from whom? A competitor? Another brand? Insist on receiving a complete sales match so you really know who you’re competing with.
- “Are you keeping me up-to-date with best practices?”Social and digital media are constantly changing. Your agency should be at the cutting edge, speaking at industry events and sharing their knowledge with you. Insist on receiving free newsletters and white-papers with the latest thinking, strategies and tips.
That’s it. A list of ten simple questions to ask your social media vendor. If you ask them today and get solid, intelligent answers, you are going to make money using social media. But if you ask these questions and the answers don’t pass muster, the enormous power of social media may be passing you by.