As a dealer, what’s the initial goal when interacting with a new prospect entering the lot? Building rapport, gaining trust and qualifying intent are most likely top of mind. Automotive dealers skillfully uncover information from visual cues and questions, generating insights that will help guide prospects towards making a purchase. These morsels of information can be very helpful when converting a prospect to a customer, but they are even more vital in developing that prospect in the first place.
An effective digital advertising strategy addresses all stages of the sales funnel. So, while search engine advertising is putting certain dealerships in front of high intent prospects who are actively searching for their inventory, what is their advertising strategy doing to create intent, or new prospects? With over 1,500 data points on users, the popular social media platform Facebook offers the greatest opportunity for dealers to reach potential customers.
“The power of these collective insights creates an opportunity to target advertisements based on specific user demographics and online activity.”
Facebook is the leader among social media channels, with over 1.4 billion users and 72% of those users logging on every day 1. In addition to its robust user base, Facebook has partnered with data providers such as Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon to put their advertising platform into hyper drive. These data providers supplement Facebook’s online insights with offline behavioral data. The power of these collective insights creates an opportunity to target advertisements based on specific user demographics and online activity.
While leveraging both search and social advertising channels has proven to be the most lucrative strategies for automotive dealers, the targeting options offered by Facebook are too valuable to ignore. Here’s a look at how automotive dealers can reach potential customers through some of Facebook’s audience targeting options:
- Buying Intent: Targets users who are considering purchasing vehicles within the next 180 or 365 days, located near your dealership.
- Make, Model, and Style Preference: Serves ads to users that have shown preferences in a certain make, model, and/or style automobile, providing several options for dealers to choose from, including 33 Makes, 50 Models, and 12 styles.
- Purchase Type: Pinpoints users who are most likely to buy new, used, or lease a vehicle.
- Auto History: Narrows ads to reach users based on their current vehicle’s price, age, and make.
- Lookalike Audiences: Targets users based on their similarity to people who have visited a dealer’s website or purchased from the dealership previously.
For example, if a dealer is looking to move 40 of their newest SUV’s in the next six months, they can create a targeted ad that will reach prospects aiming to purchase within the next 180 days near the dealership, with preferences for SUV’s, who have previously purchased at a particular price point. Not only do Facebook’s targeting options enable dealers to develop endless prospects, they also provide an opportunity for them to nurture these prospects through a tactic known as remarketing.
For Facebook, remarketing simply involves adding a snippet of code to a dealer’s website, generated by their advertising dashboard. Once the code is included in their website it will identify users who visit the site and the actions they take. From this data, dealers are able to create “Custom Audiences,” based on the action the visitor took. They can then create ads that are specifically relevant to the product or page each user viewed. This is a powerful way to reach prospects that have already shown interest and re-engage to drive them further down the path to purchase.
For example, the dealer marketer has inserted their Facebook code snippet into their dealership website and created a Custom Audience to track visitors who have viewed a page with “Dodge Charger” in the URL. This dealer can then create an ad featuring that specific make and model and assign it to appear in the Facebook feeds of this Custom Audience, as a result, to create much more targeted messages.
Another way to take advantage of Facebook’s Custom Audience feature is to upload the dealer’s current customer database or integrate their customer relationship management system. Facebook just needs a name and email address to connect to the user’s profile. With this data, dealers have an opportunity to upsell current clients based on their previous purchases from the dealership.
For example, a specific dealership has a list of customers who haven’t had their oil changed in the last six months. This dealer can create a Custom Audience from this list and target them with a coupon for a discounted oil change. This provides them with an opportunity to increase their fixed-ops profits and create a long lasting relationship with their customers.
There is an abundance of opportunities to create and nurture prospects through social media advertising. If a dealer’s current advertising mix isn’t gaining traction throughout their sales funnel, it’s time to explore the solutions offered through social.
Author: Gary Galloway
Gary Galloway is the Automotive Digital Marketing Evangelist at Netsertive, where he serves as an adviser to top automotive brand executives and their local partners. In this role, he provides key insights on digital trends and strategy for automotive marketers. He’s also an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches a course on digital marketing and communications. Email: Ggalloway@dealer-communications.com.