Dealerships offer a dizzying array of vehicle options absolutely bursting with technologically advanced attributes. Between backup cameras, blind-spot detection, and lane-keeping assist, cars have just as much in common with computers as they do with the Model T.
Every manufacturer tries to outdo its current models by pushing at the leading edge of modernity. But this forward-thinking environment stands in stark contrast to the dated marketing efforts of most car dealerships. While television, newspaper, radio, and billboards might have worked back in the 1960s, this mindset is in desperate need of an evolutionary time warp.
So many dealers fixate on old-school marketing tactics because they don’t understand the power of digital marketing platforms.
We worked with one auto dealer who was spending about $50,000 on traditional media several years ago. He accepted Google AdWords as a viable lead generation source, but he distrusted social platforms. At our urging, he agreed to spend $2,000 in one month on a Facebook campaign. In that month, he managed to sell 22 more preowned vehicles than he had in the six months prior. Needless to say, he embraced digital advertising and never looked back.
His situation isn’t unique, though. Like so many other dealers, he sank money into advertising essentially negated by the products he sold. Most people want cars with Sirius XM access and Bluetooth connections that allow them to avoid listening to radio stations. So why would dealers spend copious amounts of money on radio ads? They’re basically killing their radio ad buys with every sale, which is a losing proposition.
Adopting a Modern Media Mindset
The need for improved social media digital marketing extends far beyond boosting Facebook posts or pushing out sales notifications on Twitter. Dealerships must learn to create advertisements that change based on their audience’s needs.
Remember the morphing billboards in “Minority Report”? The advertisements adjusted based on the person looking at them, changing their messages on the fly. As is the case with most science fiction, those far-fetched visions have become reality. Dealerships can use social media to customize advertisements to suit vastly different buyers.
A mother of three kids cares about something completely different than a single 30-something guy when looking at a Toyota 4Runner advertisement. Digital advertising can ensure people see ads that speak to their demographics. The mom hears about the vehicle’s exceptional safety record, and the adrenaline junkie is intrigued by the 4Runner’s off-roading capabilities.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are constantly rolling out new features. Members of the auto industry, in particular, could benefit from Facebook Lead Ads. Using this emerging technology, dealerships can automatically collect a potential buyer’s name, email address, and phone number whenever someone signs up for a test drive. Facebook also introduced Store Visits, a tool that allows dealers to determine how many customers were spurred into action by a Facebook advertisement.
The power of targeted digital advertising is hard to deny, but it can be difficult for some Baby Boomer and Generation X general managers to venture into this brave new world. Unlike their Millennial and Generation Z counterparts, they didn’t grow up with social media. It takes a bit more to convince them that it’s relatively easy to reach the right people, get them to schedule a test drive online, capture relevant data, and do it all in real time without wasting money appealing to uninterested parties. That might sound like a tall order, but it’s all possible through social media.
Tips to Become a Social Advertising Master
Targeted digital advertising is a versatile and malleable tool that can drive business in almost any industry. Want to harness the power of social media to fuel your car dealership? Here are a few steps to get you started:
- Install Facebook Pixel.
When you log in to Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor, you’ll see a link for Pixel. There, you can get coding instructions on how to install your Pixel onto your website.
One Edmunds studyfound that the Facebook Pixel was able to drive a 45 percent increase in online visits and a 17 percent boost in dealership visits. Those numbers alone should excite any dealer looking to ramp up sales.
For the best results, you’ll want your web developer to make sure the Pixel fires on every event, such as when someone lands on your site and requests a quote. After the person has received your price, he or she should be removed from your sales funnel. You probably don’t want to continue marketing to someone who’s already done exactly what you wanted.
- Create a funnel.
Your next step is to market on Facebook’s Power Editor, which will help you uncover near-market and in-market targets. You can then further refine your parameters to include near-market and in-market prospects interested in SUVs, hybrids, or other vehicles. Unlike the shotgun approach of television and radio, these targeted ads only get in front of people who might actually make a purchase.
Research indicates that about 80 percent of the auto buyer’s journeytakes place via digital channels. If most of your ad buys are on radio or television, you’re missing four out of five conversion opportunities.
- Retarget with video.
After installing the Facebook Pixel and adjusting your Power Editor, it’s time to deliver a video to everyone who clicks through. PCG Digital Marketingfound that 40 percent of car shoppers made a purchasing decision after watching a video online — why not have that be a video you created?
Videos are relatively inexpensive to produce, and they can deliver invaluable insight into how interested prospective buyers might be. People who sit through more than 50 percent of your video are engaged targets who can be pushed further down the sales funnel; those who watch only a few seconds of your video or never click the play button can be returned to the top of the funnel.
- Close promising deals.
Remember those folks who watched most or all of your video? Send them a Facebook Lead Generation notification prompting them to set up a VIP test drive or to trade up to a new vehicle. You can set up your system to handle this automatically, connecting their responses with your customer relationship management system for real-time sales opportunities.
Despite the advanced offerings on your average dealership floor, it’s easy to get stuck in a “Mad Men” mindset of print, radio, and television ads. Instead of ignoring the latest digital trends, embrace the possibilities. The future of car sales isn’t on the tube or over the airwaves — it’s in the cloud.
About the Author
Bud Torcom is the CEO and co-founder of Mazama Media, a digital marketing agency that offers high-quality social media solutions for businesses. Mazama Media focuses on the individual needs and personalities of clients to create unique and engaging social media content, and the company is part of the prestigious Facebook Small Business Council. Bud is also a member of the Forbes Agency Council. Connect with Bud on LinkedIn.
Author: Contributing Writer
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