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Targeting Tactics: Successful Facebook Marketing for Dealers

person using their phone and laptop to interact on social media
Article Highlights:

  • Your marketing message is like a key.
  • A marketing strategy without resources is never going to take off.

We all know that social media is constantly changing and growing. Keeping up with the newest updates, ad formats, and best practices on social media can be a headache. Luckily, your dealership is not in this alone. To help you get the best results, we thought we’d share some strategies for marketing your dealership on one of the most prolific social sites—Facebook.

Simply put, marketing your dealership on Facebook is a lot like driving a car. Even the steadiest, most reliable vehicle needs a few things to work:

  • A key, key fob, or key card
  • Fuel (whether that be gasoline or an electric charge)
  • Maintenance or repairs to keep it in good, working order

Without these essential elements, your car (or your marketing efforts) aren’t going to get you very far. Let’s dig a little deeper:

Getting Access—

Your marketing message is like a key—it can “unlock” to certain demographics and interest them in what you have to offer. But there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. A customer looking for truck repairs isn’t going to be interested in ads for a new SUV, and a customer who’s just entered a new lease might not care about vehicle ads at all.

Advertising on Facebook is great because you have all sorts of targeting capabilities, and it’s a platform where your customers are already spending their time.

Things like Automotive Inventory Ads can help your dealership effectively show current inventory to in-market consumers. Better yet, AIAs serve the most relevant ads possible by using your dealership’s first party data and user engagement metrics.

And for dealerships looking to expand their customer base? Using Facebook’s ‘lookalike audience’ feature shows your ads to individuals who share similar characteristics with your customer base. So let’s say you have three customers who recently purchased an SUV from you, all of which live in the same neighborhood. Using the lookalike feature, your dealership could send targeted SUV ads to other individuals in that neighborhood—strategically expanding your marketing reach based on hard data.

Quick Tip—Facebook can also help you access quality used inventory. Private sellers may turn to places like Facebook Marketplace when looking to get rid of their vehicle—be sure to keep an eye out for anything you think would be a great addition to your lot.

Building Momentum—

In the same way that a car without fuel is never going to make it out of the driveway, a marketing strategy without resources is never going to take off.

Successfully marketing a dealership isn’t cost-free, but that’s not to say that you need to spend a fortune to see results. You simply need to use your ad spend strategically. To do that:

  • Reflect on your dealerships goals— A dealership looking to conquest needs a different strategy than one looking to boost service retention rates. Have a clear end goal in mind when developing your marketing strategy, as well as an idea of how you plan to measure your progress.
  • Consider all parts of your dealership— Marketing your inventory to sell cars is important, but you know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket. Marketing your fixed operations is a great way to boost customer loyalty (and probability), especially when inventory is tight.
  • Think about getting help from a strategist— Your dealership can set up entire marketing campaigns in Facebook Business Suite, but partnering with a vendor who can do the heavy lifting for you means you have more time to do what you’re best at. After all, your time is better spent on closing the sale, not worrying about the ins and outs of ad deliverability.

Quick Tip— Cruise control is for driving, not marketing. As the automotive industry changes regularly, be wary of ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ services that limit your ability to make changes to your messaging or ad spend over time.

Going the Extra Mile—

Even the lowest maintenance vehicle is going to need some TLC from time to time to keep it running smoothly and efficiently—your targeting strategy is no different.

Your dealership has a lot of first party data to work with when it comes to marketing your cars and services. The bad news is that a large chunk of that information is probably inaccurate. Customers can provide a ‘junk email’ they never check, misspell something, or even just accidentally give you an old phone number. Marketing with kind of wrong information wastes time, effort, and money. And the results? In most situations, they will disappoint.

The good news is that with a little bit of elbow grease, your dealership can have a clean, accurate, and updated database that’s perfect for targeted marketing efforts. It’s more work upfront, but clean records make a HUGE difference (one with clear results).

Quick Tip— Remember Facebook’s ‘lookalike audiences’? This feature is effective for expanding your digital marketing reach, but even more so when you’re starting with squeaky clean and updated data.

Your dealership works hard to ensure that your customers leave you happy and safe in whatever vehicle they drive, but that process starts online. A large portion of your customer base is reachable on social media platforms like Facebook—don’t miss out because you’re not effectively targeting the right customers. It all starts with unlocking the right audience and providing them the right message at the right time.

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Mollie Swygart is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Mollie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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