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When we hear the word "engagement", most dealers and vendors instantly think about social media. The term has been overused in more social media presentations, articles, and sales pitches than just about any other word. You hear "engagement" more often than you hear "leads" or "sales" when the gurus talk about social.
One might even believe that customer engagement is a new concept that started with Facebook or Twitter. I hate to burst too many bubbles out there, but engagement is actually an aged concept in the car business that has been around since before the internet.
When a customer is engaged with the dealership, they are locked into some form of interaction together. The definition of "engage" is to occupy, attract, or involve (someone's interest or attention). Those of us who have been in the car business for a while know that you can engage with a customer before, during, and after the transaction without having to know their Twitter handle.
Yes, social media is an easy way to harness engagement, but it's definitely not the only way and it's probably not even the best way. It's great to see people liking a post on Facebook or replying to a Tweet about the big sale this weekend, but despite the massive size of social media as a marketing venue, it lacks the targeting that dealers can get through standard (i.e. less sexy) methods such as direct mail and email.
The reality is that you can have more personal engagement as well as reach a higher number of past or potential customers by utilizing the data you already have. As we mention on our website when discussing engagement:
When you have in-depth knowledge about a customer, you can engage them by providing relevant and personalized offers and communications.
This is not a rant against social media, nor is it in any way saying that you cannot benefit from it. As with everything else, social media is a channel through which to reach your customers. That's great, but it's only a part of the equation.
To harness real engagement, you must be willing to hit them on every channel possible. Some people love Pinterest. Others prefer Instagram. Some like to text. Others like to talk. Some get excited when they receive mail. Others still toss paper mail in the recycling bin. There is no silver bullet that gets you engaged with your customers despite what any guru will tell you. There are channels.
Are you taking advantage of all of the engagement channels that are available to you?