Auto Dealers Are Landing The Front Page Of Facebook For Business. Here’s How:

May 4, 2017 | Company and Events, Social Media

Sarasota Ford, a Top 150 Ford Dealer, recently caught Facebook Business’ attention and earned themselves a spotlight on their homepage and Success Story feature page. The Facebook Advertising case study showcases how the dealership triumphantly reached their local community and earned a 125X return on ad spend using Dealers United’s Facebook Program. Here’s exactly how they did it:

You can read the full automotive Facebook Success Story here: https://www.facebook.com/business/success/sarasota-ford

Sarasota Ford Meets The Power of Facebook Ads

Sarasota Ford’s Owner and Operating Partner, Matt Buchanan, is one of our co-founders, and often tries our solutions before they launch to our members nationwide.

So when Facebook rolled out their advertising platform in 2012, we knew something BIG was coming…and our teams jumped right in to see if auto dealers could sell more cars using Facebook.

Our immediate excitement was no doubt around Facebook’s automotive-specific data from DLX Auto powered by POLK. (In-Market Auto Shopper data, Vehicle Owners, and Model Line data, oh my…)

But that was only the start.

When DU’s team of Facebook Nerds dove further into Facebook’s data, we realized we could do a hell of a lot more.

We could unlock all of Facebook’s other data (like behavioral data, psychographics, demographics, and third-party data), and THEN layer in automotive data to narrow our audience and advertise smarter.

VIDEO: A map exploring Facebook’s advertising data from Plankton Digital
Facebook’s data is INTENSE…and is expanding every day!

Since Sarasota Ford hosts over 1,000 events for initiatives like the American Cancer Society and the annual Sarasota Grand Prix, they’re a hard store to beat when it comes to local involvement.

With a brand message so strong, why were we only trying to connect with people through their vehicles?

Through our program, we knew we could help Sarasota Ford target In-Market Auto Shoppers who cared about the same causes, events, and specials the dealership was already promoting.

So that’s what we did.

What’s nice about this [program] through Dealers United, is if I’m ever in my office thinking of a campaign that I want to deploy immediately, I can go ahead and blanket my entire market or laser-target any specific market that I want. For instance, let’s say I want to only talk about and target teachers…firefighters…first responders, I can do that! It’s a great tool to have available to me that I can use to get immediate and incredible results.”

— Matt Buchanan, Owner and Operating Partner, Sarasota Ford

The only problem?

Like all digital advertising, it was nearly impossible to prove our Facebook campaigns were the source of those incredible results and their increase in floor traffic.

The Fuel Behind An Auto Dealer Success Story: Real Proof That Facebook Sells Cars

Initially, the best way we could track a campaign’s success was via the Facebook Pixel, a code placed on the dealership’s website.

But that could only go so far as tracking website clicks and conversions that happen online—it didn’t track any purchases OFFLINE.

Before we could insist for more dealerships to allocate a brand new ad spend, budget, and strategy to Facebook…we needed more proof.

And in June 2016, we finally got it.

The key to measuring Facebook ad ROI once and for all arrived in a new tool called Offline Conversions.

READ MORE: Dealers, You Can Now Track Your Exact Facebook Ad ROI: Introducing Sales Matchbacks For Facebook

By uploading Sarasota Ford’s sales report against Facebook’s database, we were finally able to track exactly how many people who just purchased a vehicle from Sarasota Ford ALSO saw their ad campaign.

When we uploaded their report, we were blown away.

So Sarasota Ford turned up the burners…

…and our team turned on more targeted campaigns…

…and that’s when we turned Facebook’s head.

The Campaign That Caught Facebook’s Attention

What’s more powerful than delivering the right message to the right people at the right time?

Nothing.

Every Wednesday, Sarasota Ford runs a promotion where they offer a free car wash, oil change, tire rotation and free massage for women.

To get that message out, our Facebook team ran a video ad in November promoting the exclusive offer and discounts to women on Facebook who were In-Market Auto Shoppers or Vehicle Owners near the dealership.

In just 5 days, their campaign had over 16,000 views.

In 30 days, the dealership:

  • reached just over 52,000 vehicle owners or shoppers
  • generated a total of 30,185 video views
  • matched 5 vehicle sales with a 28 day Offline Conversion report

…and was generating conversations like:

“I’ve been running TV ads for years, and no customer has ever told me, ‘I’m here because of your ad,’” said Matt. “However, with Facebook, it was unbelievable how many customers actually mentioned that they had stopped in to check out our facility and the Sarasota Ford experience due to the campaign.”

PRO TIP: Not seeing dealership Facebook results like this? Try video! Users are watching and uploading videos to Facebook more than ever before. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the social network’s users view more than four billion videos a day.

The key to the campaign? Not wasting money on reaching people who can’t take advantage of the offer in the ad.

Matt said, “I can tell you firsthand that when running targeted Facebook campaigns, like, for instance, our Ladies’ Day Wednesday campaign, we saw real results. I had more customers coming in at a fraction of the cost! The key to our Facebook success is coupling a strong message with a strong call to action to drive traffic.”

The dealership runs campaigns with similar data targeting strategies, like offering military specials to veterans, discounts to first responders, and other promotions to to specific “micro groups.”

READ: Here’s How To Build Your Dealership’s Facebook Video Advertising Strategy (+ 6 Ideas That Move Metal)

More Strategies For Auto Dealer Success On Facebook

Being able to show the right offer to the right people isn’t a crazy concept.

But it’s something that a lot of auto dealers—hell, a lot of advertisers—still aren’t doing.

According to Sprout Social, “It’s no longer cost effective to throw together an ad and cast it out using the widest net. You really have to dive into your audience segments and tailor your ads to best meet their interests.”

Dealers who are mastering the true power of Facebook Advertising and are being featured as auto dealer success stories are running campaigns that actually connect with their audience.

This means inviting people in your area who have expressed an interest in donating blood to the blood drive you’re co-hosting…

…showing a Trade-In offer to vehicle owners of your exact Make & Model who have had their vehicle for 3+ years…

…or even running hire ads for service techs to people with past experience in that field.

The options are endless. The results are beyond doubt. And Facebook’s next auto dealer Success Story could be yours—but you have to be willing to go the extra mile and uncover what all of Facebook’s data can do.

Here’s how we “DU” it.

Blog Author - Brooke Jensen

Written By Brooke Jensen
Brooke handles all of Dealers United’s digital marketing. In addition to her love for design and copy, Brooke also adores her two dog-like kittens, playing the electric violin, and walking barefoot around the office.


Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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