Best PracticesDealership MarketingIndustry News & Trends

Don’t Allow Social To KILL Your Conversions

First, let me begin this post by saying I have much love for Facebook. After much observation I’ve determined that Facebook targeted ads pull in more leads than many other marketing tactics for local dealers. However, when I got an email from one of my own employee’s the other day extolling the values of a sports company promotion (below) leading people to Facebook, I realized the madness has to stop.

What is the madness?

Luring your own visitors away from your dealership homepage to other sites, like Facebook and Twitter, with promotions and campaigns. By doing this you are essentially taking customers from the bottom of the sales funnel, your website, back up to the top. You would never greet an up in your showroom by saying..

“Thanks so much for coming, but may I escort you to a dealership down the street for more options?”

While this sounds absurd, it’s exactly what is happening when your dealership designs a promotion that sends would-be shoppers away from your website to visit another.

Apline sport social example

Let’s look at the above homepage from Alpine Sports as an example. Their promotion for free shipping sends visitors away from Alpine Sports own website by directing them to visit for a free shipping code.

While this may seem, on the surface, like a great way to increase Facebook “likes” and get visitors to their Facebook page. Is this the best way to engage shoppers?

Let’s look at what visitors can do from the Alpine Sports homepage:

  • Search apparel
  • Get recommendations
  • Check out Q&A with Alpine-branded stars
  • And most important of all, BUY their merchandise.

In comparison, a quick glance over Alpine Sport’s Facebook page shows some cool pictures and a listing of upcoming events, but nowhere can a visitor find apparel for sale and they certainly can’t buy anything directly from the Facebook page.

While Facebook campaigns are great for a lot of things – branding, event promotions, coupons – they should always be driving customers to your dealership website – not the other way around.

Establishing a strong social community has many benefits I could extrapolate on for hours… and I have. Instead, I’d like to focus on just one, recommendations. A Nielsen study showed that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth. That far exceeds the 47% who trust advertisements. Facebook is a great place for people to discuss and recommend your product, which is why some businesses might feel so compelled to send customers there in the first place. But let’s consider an option that keeps your customers at the bottom of the sales funnel, while still allowing them to contribute to your social community — Install the Facebook Connect Comments widget directly onto your site.

This strategy works for any company that sells a product, but let’s focus on a dealership-based example. If someone is looking for a car and they find it at your dealership… give them the opportunity to comment on Facebook right then and there on your website. Now you are getting your consumer actions into the newsfeed to drive more traffic straight to your site while simultaneously generating user feedback and building a social community.

Let’s look at a real example of someone doing it right. ThinkGeek.comallows Facebook users to comment on all their products. Here a customer finds a hoodie they like.

Alpine sport hoodie facebook comments

They scroll down the page and find a place to leave a comment.

Alpine sport facebook inline comment example

Their comment shows up right on the page but also goes to their Facebook page, sharing both their comment and linking his friends and followers back to the ThinkGeek site. Apline sport facebook onpage comment

Bottom line: when you have customers on your dealership homepage – keep them on your dealership website website. They’re more likely to be much closer to the bottom of the sales funnel – time to convert! With the right strategy and tools in place, you can continue to build your social presence without killing your conversion.

Based on these factors where are you integrating social within your website?

Do you have social icons on your dealership homepage?

If so, are you worried that you’re potentially directing customers away from taking action on your website?

Have/Would you install the Facebook Connect Comments widget directly into your dealership website?

Sounds off in the comments below. I want to hear your opinions and answers to the above questions!

Phil Penton is a long time friend with Kershner. He was listing cars on eBay before "media" was social. He enjoys building and launching disruptive te...
  • K
  • November 29, 2012
Phil, Great post & I agree getting people to your actual site is the major objective of (online) advertising (other than get getting 'em in). I also love that you've called out this practice of sending shoppers back out onto social sites where they will more than likely get lost in engaging not shopping...on your site...or will go to a different dealer's site. Everyone knows I love social media, but I don't have any links from our site out until a customer has completed shopping (confirmation pages)
I love the idea of social widgets integrated into the layout of a site - but other than the social tool DDC has, I don't think they'll ever let us plug in widgets on our own...@axsnyder ?
"When you have customers on your dealership homepage – keep them on your dealership website website." You don't say..
  • K
  • November 30, 2012
Great job Phil. You are a long time contributor to automotive and I appreciate your insight. The common input given when creating Facebook ads is to point them back to your fan page, or another Facebook page to have higher conversion, rather than directing them to your own website. I am watching performance on sponsored ads to measure between the 2 approaches to try and see for myself. Your thoughts from experience?
I always come back to "common sense". Facebook is a social site. If we treat our shoppers well, they will "socialize" on Facebook and share their positive experiences with their friends, which leads to more business for us. When we can encourage folks to socialize with/about us by making it simper with tools like Facebook connect, then we can benefit greatly. Sales 101 never really changes, it just takes place in different areas as technology changes...
AWESOME - I love the idea of the social plugin for FB - the fact prospects can see what others are asking or saying right there on the site without leaving is huge. i think as fb continues to become inundated with information overload, creating ways to engage them right on the website (especially an  inventory page) will be huge. 
as a vendor, we will have to examine the possibility of including a plugin in a live chat window so someone can hit 'like' or make a comment at the end. seems like it would get to a gray area for who gets the comment - the dealership or the vendor. hmmm...