GM Uses Facebook Ads For Ignition Switch Recall Effort

December 29, 2014 0 Comments

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General Motors made headlines for much of 2014 for their abundance of recalls. At least 42 deaths have been linked to faulty ignition switches on certain GM vehicles. Those switches can cause vehicles to unexpectedly switch off while motorists are operating their vehicle, causing drivers to lose control and in certain cases, become seriously injured or even killed.

The fallout from this very public challenge included GM CEO, Mary Barra, getting grilled from members of Congress. GM was also investigated by the NHTSA and U.S. Department of Justice. It was clear their public image was taking a hit. However, despite the backlash, the automaker had a job to do. During all of the public image issues, GM sought out consumers to go get their recalled ignition switches fixed. In total 2.6 million GM vehicles were recalled because of the ignition switch defect. This meant that GM had a lot of consumers to reach out to.

A report by Marketing Land indicates GM began their pursuit of consumers with “traditional methods.” This meant the automaker reached out to consumers via phone calls, direct mailers and by using dealerships for assistance. They also reportedly offered $25 gift certificates, which spurred tens of thousands of responses. Free tickets to local fairs and car shows were also given as an incentive for consumers to seek recall repairs. However, in 2014 there is certainly a more effective way to reach consumers: social media.

GM reportedly launched a mega social media ad campaign in order to reach consumers who needed their recalled vehicles to be repaired. The L.A. times reported that GM used Acxiom, a data-marketing firm in order to target a “list of unengaged targeted drivers digitally.” GM successfully targeted unengaged consumers using ads on Facebook, AOL, and MSN.

They also branched out into mobile app marketing by pitching ads in Candy Crush and Words with Friends. Luckily for GM, they can easily measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing outside of the normal platform-specific metrics. They were able to see how effective their campaign was by simply seeing how many people were having their recalled vehicles repaired. The results of the campaigns, both digital and traditional, were very effective. After nine months, 60 percent of vehicles impacted by the recall have been repaired. This is reportedly one of the most successful recall efforts of all-time.

The success of this effort is due in large part to the Custom Audiences and Interest Targeting tools available to advertisers via Facebook. The Facebook Custom Audiences tool allows businesses to enter a list of items such as email address or phone numbers into a dialogue box to search for applicable Facebook users. If Facebook finds a match using the encrypted user data entered into a dialogue box, they are then able to very precisely target specific users with in this case, GM Recall Ads. For GM the Custom Audiences capability was a masterpiece of a targeting tool. They have information about vehicle owners who need recalls. They likely used this tool to seek out those impacted motorists and serve them applicable recall ads. The interest-targeting tool likewise allows companies such as GM to target users who like certain pages. For example, GM could reach out to those individuals who “like” a Facebook page about vehicle like the Chevy Cobalt, which has been a major part of the ignition switch recall.

GM found success as they have had a 60 percent recall repair rate for their ignition switch recall. What has your store done with social media to improve the rate at which you generate leads? Is your social media managed in-house or by a vendor? Have you seen success with the Custom Audiences or Interest Target tools on Facebook?

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The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.