Dataium, the largest aggregator of online automotive shopper behavior, recently announced the release of its annual Social Media report that examines the influence of Facebook and other social media websites on automotive shopping behavior. The report, based on online automotive shopping events from a database of over 100 million active auto shoppers, details the impact of social media on visits, vehicle searches, inventory views and leads on automotive dealership websites.
According to Dylan Snyder, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence at Dataium, “There has been much discussion in the automotive industry surrounding the importance of incorporating Facebook and other social media outlets as part of an overall marketing strategy. Because of this, we’ve developed the Social Media report which aims to help car dealers and their marketing agencies determine how much return they are getting from these social channels.”
The report shows that many dealerships are successfully utilizing Facebook to generate new visitors. While only 0.45% of shoppers have been referred directly from Facebook to a dealership website, 94% of those referrals are visiting the dealership website for the first time. In addition, 27% of those first time visitors return to the dealership website after their initial visit, compared to a 22% return for the average shopper. In terms of vehicle views, 36% of shoppers referred by Facebook view at least one vehicle, compared to 32% of shoppers who were referred by other websites. Interestingly however, Facebook shoppers view an average of only two vehicles compared to other shoppers who on average view five vehicles.
Mr. Snyder noted, “The data shows that Facebook is a good approach to getting new visitors to dealership sites. The lead to visitor ratio, which is less than half of our network average, is disappointingly low, however. This highlights that dealerships cannot rely on Facebook alone; traditional methods are still needed to turn these new visitors into leads.”
The complete Social Media report can be accessed at www.dataium.com/library along with additional reports and research on Mobile Device Usage, Online Auto Shopping Trends, Visitor Search Profiles, the ASI (Auto Shopper Intensity) index report and more. I have downloaded the report and am including a small glimpse of it here in this post but you may want to download it yourself for your own use.
How To Put This Data to Use
Some things that I wonder about this information are where it states that “0.45% of shoppers have been referred directly from Facebook to a dealership website” and “94% of those referrals are visiting the dealership website for the first time.” As one who blogs on behalf of auto dealers and incorporates Facebook into the mix, very seldom are we linking from Facebook to the dealership site.
A more common scenario is that we would share blog posts on the dealer’s Facebook page that are published to the dealer’s blog. By doing this, a percentage of that traffic clicks through the blog to the dealer’s website so when you look at the analytics what you see is that Facebook drives traffic to the blog and the blog drives traffic to the site. This report does not seem to consider that so it might be fair to suggest that Facebook ultimately drives more traffic to dealer sites that the report suggests.
The other stat about 94% of those referrals being first-time visitors also could be skewed by this. Practically speaking, most followers on a dealer Facebook page are new and current customers, people that have recently gone through the purchase or brought in their vehicle for service. So why are they appearing to be first-time visitors to the dealership site?
Combine these two things with the fact that GM has pulled their paid ads from Facebook, you have to hold information like this at arm’s length. Not to challenge Dataium’s findings, but as a dealer when you consider Facebook, you want to be cautious not to assume or conclude these findings because there are some grey areas to consider.
A interesting next step for Dataium would be to include dealership blogs in the study and get more specific information around how a dealer’s blog influences and is affected by the dealer’s website and Facebook page. I suspect the findings could be significantly different.