Every long-standing automotive dealer remembers a time when your customers would see your advertisements in the newspaper or on the local television station and thus decide to visit your showroom. Unfortunately that era is as long gone as AMC Matadors, jacked up rear ends, vinyl roofs, opera lights and rear window louvers. We are now firmly in the era of social media where your customers interact with your manufacturer’s brand and your dealership in such innovative ways that conventional forms of car dealer marketing have been turned upside down.

Happy Customers Can Be Evangelists, Unhappy Ones Can Be Doomsayers

Marketing your dealership through an email campaign in the social media age puts the emphasis on the customer impression of your operation rather than the carefully crafted “everything is always wonderful” ad illusions of yesteryear. Client satisfaction has become a paramount consideration, as a happy motorist has the potential to become your biggest advocate and thus drive considerable amounts of additional business to your showroom. At the same time, an unhappy customer can detract from and even outright damage your dealership by spreading the word through their expansive social circles and cliques that they believe you engage in unethical business practices.

One Thoughtful Detail Can Boost Your Online Reputation – One Wrong Step Can Devastate It

Details as relatively minor and simple as hot coffee and fresh donuts in a service waiting room, or a fruit, wine and cheese basket on the passenger seat of every newly delivered car, can be enough to drive the level of positive social media chatter off the scale. On the other hand, a single service appointment gone wrong, a repair performed inadequately, or just one salesperson applying high pressure tactics and the net detriment to your dealership in social cyberspace can become palpable.

Engage Customers in the Social Arena or Risk Losing Control of Your Message

If your dealership does not confront your image in the social media world through your email marketing strategy, you stand to lose control of your reputation and message. Your participation in the social conversation can be utilized to steer the conversation into a favorable direction and counter any negative and damaging statements. Your silence will seem to be a capitulation that the derogatory comments are correct and you cannot dispute them. Furthermore, your lack of presence on the social networks will be pounced on by your competitors.

Incentivize Positive Comments & Ethically Dispute Negative Ones

In order to engage your customer, you must set up a mechanism whereby you are able to capture feedback and then compose eloquent and thoroughly honest responses to address any and all issues that are brought up, whether in the social network of their choosing or through your email newsletter campaign. Shying away from the negatives or bullying your detractors is foolish at best, as you should confront all comments, both laudatory and pejorative. Incentivize and compliment your positive commenters and present indisputable evidence of your ethics and policies to your naysayers.

Your online marketing strategies can work in harmonious conjunction to reward your evangelists while countering and outright silencing your malcontents. The realization that what constitutes marketing in this century may be diametrically opposed to what worked in the previous one will help you understand and embrace the concept that email and social media marketing is a one on one conversation and never a broadcast.