John’s Auto Buyer Journey: The Ultimate Ad Placement Strategy

John’s Auto Buyer Journey: The Ultimate Ad Placement Strategy

John’s Auto Buyer Journey: The Ultimate Ad Placement Strategy

In today’s digitally dominated world, it is more important than ever to meet potential auto shoppers where they are online.

And it is no shocking secret that today’s savvy consumers (as well as their mom, coworkers, and best friends) invest their time on social media.

In fact, the average person scrolls through about 300 feet of mobile content on Facebook and Instagram… daily. That’s equivalent to the size of the Statue of Liberty!

So with every swipe of their thumb, dealers have the opportunity to get their brand and promotional content on valuable visual real estate.

Sure, with so many resources and the handy-dandy “Boost” button, Facebook has made it easier than ever to run ads on social platforms. But what separates the average from the best converting ad campaigns is strategy.

Specifically, leveraging different ad types intentionally with thoughtful messaging throughout the auto buyer journey.

The Auto Buyer Journey

According to Cox Automotive, auto shoppers are only in-market for just over 3 months.

This means that your dealership must strategically take an auto shopper from awareness to consideration to conversion in a limited amount of time — or just hope you get lucky. 

Most advertisers are only meeting the shopper with 1-3 messages and hoping it’s at the right time and the right message. 

And while this method can work, there is a far better, more reliable way. 

Introducing “The Auto Buyer’s Journey,” where dealers are NAILING the right audience, right message, right time, every time. 

We’re going to follow an example auto shopper avatar, “John,” as he goes from initial vehicle research to ultimately converting at your dealership. 

Keep in mind: John’s example journey is very specific based on John’s unique interests, behaviors, and stage in the buyer journey. As you walk through the experience with John, imagine other types of prospects that could fall into each stage, and how you would message them. This is truly where the magic happens… entire Monthly Ad Spend turned into Leads.

 VIDEO: How Dealers Can Reach Shoppers Throughout The Auto Buyer Journey

Identifying Your Shopper

Meet “John.” 

John is a 36 year old male who is interested in an F-150. John is in your addressable market but has never been to your dealership, isn’t in your CRM, and has never visited your website. 

He just started doing research on 3rd party sites like Edmund’s and Autotrader. After a little investigating, John decides that he wants a new, white or gray F-150 between $40,000-$50,000.

Bringing Awareness To Your Dealership

Using Facebook and 3rd party data, we now know that John is an in-market shopper in your PMA who is browsing for a new F-150. 

We certainly could send John ads with your F-150 inventory at this point. 

But if you immediately start showing “Sales-y” ads to John, before you even have had a chance to introduce your dealership, it’s kind of like asking someone to marry you before you even know their name. And that’s just… wrong.

Next time John hops on Facebook or Instagram, you first want to capture his attention by deploying engaging ads that introduce John to your dealership.

These ads should include “Why Buy” messaging about features that make John want to purchase from you, instead of your competition. 

Winning the “Consideration” Stage

John is now aware of your dealership and has been engaging with your Awareness ads through Likes, Comments, and Video Watches.

In this next stage, you want to accomplish 3 things: 1) Encourage John’s interest in the F-150, 2) Inform him about current specials on the F-150, and 3) Show your live, on-the-ground F-150 inventory.

With these ads, John will click through to your SRPs, which will trigger a View Content event back to Facebook.

Now we’re going to start showing him all relevant live inventory that your dealership has on the lot.

Once he engages with your ads and either lands on your website VDP or an on-Facebook VDP, we know once and for all that John is ready to buy.

But if John leaves your VDPs without converting, it’s crucial that we retarget him to keep your store top-of-mind until he makes a decision.

Bringing John Back With Retargeting

1. Continue enforcing what sets your store apart from other dealerships.

While “sales-y” ads are a priority at this stage, don’t forget to continue messaging John about what sets your store apart.

Customer testimonials, awards and accolades, and your involvement with your community are sure-fire ways to build trust with John.

2. Stay relevant and ask for a lead conversion (at the right time).

If John is looking at neutral color F-150s between $40-50k, you certainly don’t want to retarget him with a bright blue F-150 that is out of his price range.

Instead, retarget John with the exact VIN that he viewed, and all similar inventory you have in stock.

Then, when John is at the peak of his shopper journey, ask him to submit a lead directly on Facebook to Apply For Financing, Schedule a Test Drive, or Schedule a VIP Appointment!

With On-Facebook Lead Ads, you can provide John a frictionless experience without slow page load times, pop-ups, or other friction. (Want to learn more about reducing auto shopper friction? Watch: Reduce Auto Shopper Friction with Facebook’s Newest Solution for Dealers)

Did you know? Many dealerships and agencies run Lead Ads either too early, or for too long, which can waste your ad dollars. With Facebook’s custom retargeting windows, you can maximize your spend by ONLY asking John for a lead conversion when he is at the peak of his journey: 3-7 days after he left your VDP.

Once John raises his hand and submits his information, your team will see his information dropped immediately into the CRM as a lead so you’re one step closer to the sale.

Attributing The Sale

Say John never submitted a lead form on Facebook, but still came in and bought that new truck.

How can we attribute that unit sale to your Facebook campaigns?

Using Facebook’s Offline Conversion tool, dealers don’t have to guess anymore.

Simply upload your sales report into Facebook (or via our our awesome new dashboard), and you will be able to see the amount of shoppers who viewed or clicked a Facebook ad before they bought.

Learn more about how Facebook Matchbacks work here.

This will give you immediate insight into your return on ad spend and cost per unit sold, so you can stop guessing and start making better decisions with your advertising dollars.
But John’s journey with your dealership isn’t done yet!

Customers For Life

Now that John is in your CRM as a successful sale, you can run service and promotion campaigns to him and the rest of your established customer base.

Keeping your dealership in John’s timeline, we can continue to drive fixed ops revenue and ultimately start reenaging him with trade in incentives to get him back into your store to buy again.

Want to see how your dealership can engage your customer base to start getting back much needed inventory back on your lot? Click here to download the 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook.

Now that John’s journey has come full circle (and he’s a raving fan of your dealership), grab a testimonial and turn it into an ad for future shoppers who you meet during their auto shopper journey.

Nothing builds trust like word of mouth referrals, so it’s so important to continue to nurture these relationships even after the sale. You never know the connections one person can bring!

The Journey Never Ends…

By now, you understand the full spectrum of interactions in the auto buyer journey.

There are so many opportunities to optimize each touch point to drive a potential buyer (and everyone they know!) into becoming a raving fan.

Facebook and Instagram are a digital marketers playground: internet users spend an average of 144 minutes per day on social media. Moreover, 63% of car buyers are discovering new vehicles online and 86% of shoppers want to engage with brands post-purchase.

From prospecting and retargeting, to nurturing the relationship (and revenue) post-sale, these strategies will help your business build local awareness, enhance engagement, garner qualified leads, and get the most out of your advertising budget.

If your business isn’t leveraging digital marketing across the marketing funnel, your local audience is one click away from giving their business to your competitor.

Ready to learn more with real world examples? Check out this video to see the auto buying journey in action.

 VIDEO: How Dealers Can Reach Shoppers Throughout The Auto Buyer Journey

Blog Author - Drew Detweiler

Written By Drew Detweiler
Drew manages inbound and outbound marketing for Dealers United. When he’s not at work, he’s probably enjoying the outdoors, fishing, or eating.

13 Ads That Are Restocking Dealership Inventory

13 Ads That Are Restocking Dealership Inventory

13 Ads That Are Restocking Dealership Inventory

Q1 of 2021 flew by. Thankfully for dealers, the market bounced back from disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic much faster than experts predicted…

(Despite the unique business challenges that were presented, this quarter highlighted some awesome results!)

…but even so, there were still unforeseen obstacles on the horizon – lack of inventory being one of the most critical.

Be it from supply chain issues or the high demand for desirable used units, dealers everywhere are feeling the pinch, and in a lot of cases, if you don’t have the right units, it’s leading to lost revenue.

And we don’t want that, which is exactly why we’ve created our 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook 👉 13 ready-to-run ads and audience targeting strategies meant to help car dealerships get back those top model-lines directly from the source – their owners.

Click here to get the free 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook! For detailed targeting information, read on!

Industry Insights

According to a recently released report by IHS Markit, “Auto Industry Insights: Q1 2021,” COVID-19 created the largest decline in auto sales in a single year, yet the dip wasn’t as bad as anticipated.

What’s even better news, the market has made huge strides towards recovery.

The industry report by IHS also highlights the scarcity of dealer inventory and how this is a catalyst for lower incentives and possible lost customers if dealers don’t have the right inventory on the lot!

So how can dealers claw back and get more top-model lines on the lot?

Enter the 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook!

How Dealers Are Increasing Top Inventory

With Facebook and Instagram users at an all time high, it’s fair to say that owners of the model-lines you want on your lot are out there.

Get in front of them with offers to trade keys, lease pull ahead, or outright buy back their vehicles.


Getting offers in front of owners with desirable late-model vehicles or those vehicles coming off-lease is giving dealerships a much more enticing selection of newer vehicles to attract new shoppers with.

With our 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook, dealers are leveraging 13 ads that are appealing to vehicle owners and getting dealerships back in the game in inventory count.

So far this month, Zeigler Cadillac of Lincolnwood was able to drive 21 leads for $13.11, bringing in more potential inventory for their dealership.

Click here to download the playbook!

How Do I Reach The Right Vehicle Owners?

So you have some awesome looking ads to grab the attention of top-model line owners – great! But now what?

Although certain ad agencies are okay with using a dealer’s ad spend to target all users in their PMA, we prefer a more targeted approach.

Using IHS and Oracle in-market vehicle owner data, you can get these ads in front of owners of the exact model lines that your dealership wants on the lot.

By reaching these ideal customers, your dealership can get in front of them with your message where they are spending their free time – Facebook and Instagram.


With the auto market recovering, almost all dealers need to get their hands on more appealing used inventory.

Our 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook gives you 13 scroll-stopping assets for your dealership to run on Facebook and Instagram to immediately start getting more desirable units on your lot.

Coupled with IHS and Oracle targeting for top model-line owners, your dealership can optimize ad spend and appeal to only the right vehicle owners.

Click here to download the 2021 Buy Back Ad Playbook and start getting units back in your inventory.

Want to skip the fuss? Click here to chat with one of our experts and let us do the heavy lifting for you.

Blog Author - Drew Detweiler

Written By Drew Detweiler
Drew manages inbound and outbound marketing for Dealers United. When he’s not at work, he’s probably enjoying the outdoors, fishing, or eating.

Meet The New Dealers United Facebook Ads Dashboard (+6 Reporting Features Dealers Love)

Meet The New Dealers United Facebook Ads Dashboard (+6 Reporting Features Dealers Love)

Meet The New Dealers United Facebook Ads Dashboard (+6 Reporting Features Dealers Love)

If you’ve ever logged into Facebook Ads Manager to see how your dealership’s Facebook Ads are performing, you know how daunting it can be.

Even if you rely on Google Analytics or 3rd party reports instead of Ads Manager, it’s still a hassle to understand if your ads are truly leading to unit sales.

What’s worse, some Facebook vendors set up dashboards that skew results, hide certain data points, or even make the data more difficult to understand. Yikes.

If you’re investing in Facebook ads as an auto dealer, the new Dealers United Dashboard is crucial to helping you prove if your dealership’s Facebook Ads are working (or not!).

🎉 Introducing the new Dealers United Dashboard for Facebook Ads

At Dealers United, we knew we could make understanding Facebook Ads results for car dealers a LOT simpler.

Most importantly, we knew we could make the data dealers really care about (your Marketing Cost Per Unit Sold and total Return on Ad Spend) crystal-clear.

By syncing directly with Facebook’s API, the Dealers United Dashboard brings you accurate, real-time reports, that are EASY to understand.

Here are 6 reporting features our dealers love inside the Dealers United Dashboard:

6 Reporting Features Our Dealer-Partners Love

1. The Facebook Ads Report & Funnel

The first thing you’ll notice in our Facebook Ads Report is the infamous Dealers United “Facebook Ads Funnel,” which makes it effortless for dealers to identify how their Facebook Ads are performing; from top-of-funnel to bottom!

Our Facebook Advertising Funnel includes stats like Prospects, Shoppers, Leads and – most importantly – Attributed Sales.

With a quick glance at this funnel, you can understand your Cost Per Lead, Conversion Rate, and even Marketing Cost Per Unit Sold from your total Facebook ad spend.

Our reports help dealers see the full picture of how Facebook is working for their business. While most vendors only show Cost Per Lead (CPL) based on Lead Campaign ad spend alone, we use the Funnel to show how your entire Monthly Ad Spend turned into Leads.

But the KPIs don’t stop there.

You can also use the Facebook Ads Report to compare important metrics, like Spend vs. Leads over time, and you’ll see a simple breakdown of other key numbers like Cost Per Lead, Reach, etc.

Ready to see the Dealers United Dashboard first hand? Click here to schedule a demo.

2. Sales Attribution with Offline Events Uploader

Are you curious how many vehicles you sold are attributed directly to your dealership’s Facebook ads?

Do you want to know your Marketing Cost Per Unit Sold once and for all? Simply upload Offline Events (aka your Sold Report)!

Previously, our team would take your monthly sold report, upload it to Facebook’s Offline Events, and identify how many users who clicked or saw an ad on Facebook ended up purchasing a vehicle. This however created a lot of back-and-forth, and caused unnecessary delays.

Now with the Dealers United Dashboard, you can simply upload your sold report yourself and view the results in seconds!

Did you know? Our Offline Events Uploader Tool will also help auto-format your sold report file based on your CRM so that you have the highest match rate possible!

When you upload your Offline Events, the dashboard will generate a performance report that includes:

  • Total # of Offline Purchase Events
  • The # of times a user Viewed an Ad (and did not click), or Viewed and Clicked on an ad (within the window of 1 day, 7 days, and 28 days)
  • The # of events attributed to Facebook ads
  • And the cost $$$ per event

What better way to determine your dealership’s ROI than by seeing how many vehicle sales match back to your Facebook ads?!

Click here to check out our latest Dealer Success Story, and see how Healey Brothers Automotive matched 193 Sales to Facebook in 1 month!

3. Marketplace Reporting

Unfortunately, Facebook Business Manager doesn’t have a “reporting dashboard” for dealerships’ Marketplace listings.

But with a little elbow grease from our Dev + Product Team, Dealers United customers can now access Marketplace Reporting in our dashboard!

Like the Facebook Ads funnel, our Marketplace Reporting Funnel helps dealers track their success on Facebook Marketplace, from the # of Listing Views to Initial Marketplace Messages.

Our dashboard also generates 5 Facebook Marketplace Stats to give you key insights on:

  • The # of times people viewed the details page of your Marketplace Listing
  • The # of times people clicked the call button on your Marketplace Listing
  • The # of first-time messages received from buyers about your listing on Marketplace 
  • The % of initial Marketplace Messages that you sent an initial response within 24 hours through Facebook Messenger 
  • The average time it took you to send an initial response to an initial Marketplace message through Facebook Messenger

4. Leads

We understand how crucial it is to track leads.

In addition to sending all leads driven by Facebook to your CRM in ADF/XML format, we also log all leads driven from Facebook into a single area in the Dealers United Dashboard.

This includes Leads submitted directly on Facebook forms and Twilio Call Tracking recordings, complete with important details like the Lead’s first and last name, phone number, email, and the vehicle the lead is associated with.

5. Inventory Health

Do you know why the inventory you’re using for Automotive Inventory Ads (AIA) or Marketplace Listings on Facebook is inaccurate, or not displaying?

With the Dealer’s United Dashboard, we’ve made it easy to identify your Inventory Health.

You can identify:

  • # of Vehicles in Feed and Total Vehicles in Dashboard
  • Vehicles Sent to Marketplace
  • Vehicles Confirmed in Marketplace
  • Sent to AIA (Inventory Ads) Catalog
  • Rejected Vehicles (Reasons by Field)
  • Marketplace Filtered Vehicle Reasons
  • Issues Detected Affecting all Vehicles

…all in REAL-TIME. If there’s an issue with your Inventory, you’ll see it in your dashboard, and can take the appropriate steps necessary to resolve it.

6. Automated Reports

Our Automated Reports are a summary of all the key performance reports in the Dealers United Dashboard, brought together in a simple PDF format.

These are automatically generated and delivered to your email every single month to help you understand your performance, even if you haven’t had a chance to dive into the Dashboard recently.
Inside the report, you’ll find snapshots into 4 main areas of your Facebook Ad performance:

  1. Facebook Advertising
  2. Marketplace
  3. Inventory Health
  4. Vehicle Performance

But Wait, There’s More…

These 6 reporting features in the Dealers United Dashboard are game changers for auto dealers investing in Facebook Ads.

But the dashboard is jam-packed with hundreds of other features, such as easier-than-ever Onboarding, Instant Ad Previews, Budget Pacing, and Account Monitoring that help Dealers United customers maximize their ad dollars from start to finish.

And we’re only just getting started.

If you want to finally make sense of Facebook Ads for your dealership with clear and accurate reporting, it’s time to make the switch to Dealers United. Schedule your demo HERE.

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.

See the Dealers United Dashboard first-hand. Schedule your demo now!

Schedule Now

Apple’s iOS 14 and Facebook: What Every Dealer Needs to Know

Apple’s iOS 14 and Facebook: What Every Dealer Needs to Know

Apple’s iOS 14 and Facebook: What Every Dealer Needs to Know

There’s a lot of chatter around the impact that Apple’s iOS 14 update will have on digital marketing, especially on advertising platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Here are the key points that your dealership needs to know:

What Is The Apple iOS 14 Update?

iOS 14.4 is Apple’s newest update that will ask all Apple users if they want to turn the ability to track movement between apps On or Off. It’s assumed that some people will opt out of tracking. 

This update by Apple is one of many recent changes to the digital marketing environment regarding protecting users’ data.

Facebook has been launching updates in preparation for Apple to begin the enforcement of their tracking prompt, which they anticipate will begin rolling out sometime in early spring.

How Could iOS 14 Impact Facebook Ads For Dealerships?

If someone opts out of tracking from Facebook, as a dealership, you could:

  • Begin to see limited attribution in Facebook metrics Off-Facebook, such as Landing Page Views and Website Leads. 
  • See a change in audience sizes.

Although we do not expect a significant change in campaign performance, there will be some limitations with our ability to report on longer attribution windows. See more about this below.

How To Ensure Your Dealership Is Set Up For Success With iOS 14 Changes

  1. Make sure you have verified your domain. Facebook is requiring verified domains to optimize and report on critical website events, like VDP Views and Website Leads. If you are a current customer, you can reach out to your Performance Manager to see if your domain is verified! If you are not a customer, click this link to learn more about how to verify your domain.
  2. PRO TIP: If you use a Facebook ad agency, your domains need to be verified under your own business manager, not your agency’s. Otherwise, you could be locking up your business assets to your ad agency.

  3. Ensure your account is bolstered with offline data (like CRM leads, sales, and service audiences) so you aren’t solely dependent on pixel data.
  4. Take advantage of On-Facebook strategies, like On-Facebook AIAs, that drive shoppers to a VDP within Facebook’s platform (not your dealership’s website) and which will NOT see a loss in audience sizes or attribution.
  5. In initial tests with On-Facebook Destination for Automotive Inventory Ads, dealers were seeing 17% reduction in Cost Per VDP View and an 82% reduction in Cost Per Lead!

  6. Implement Oracle Data (POLK/IHS Markit, Visa/Mastercard, comScore, and TransUnion) which will continue to give you powerful targeting opportunities outside of Facebook’s capabilities.

IMPORTANT: For Dealers United customers, in addition to the above recommendations to set your account up for success, note that we are also following all of Facebook’s best practices and closely monitoring the effects of this update with our Facebook Partner Manager and Facebook’s Development team. If any action items are required on your part, we will notify you ASAP and assist wherever we can to ensure you are set up for success.

More About Attribution Changes

  • Facebook changed their default attribution window from 28-day click/1-day view to 7-day click/1-day view in Ads Manager for both Website and Offline Events.
  • To continue helping you paint the full picture of attribution, we will be leaning heavily into Offline events, like sales and lead data from your DMS and CRM.
  • Dealers United’s Dashboard (built alongside Facebook’s API) will continue to have the ability to report up to 28 days on views and clicks for offline conversions.

What is an attribution window? Click here to get a recording of our live Digital Dealer session, “How Top Auto Marketers Are Measuring Digital ROI (Without Google Analytics),” to learn more about attribution.

What’s Next?

Although there’s still many unknown impacts of the new Apple iOS changes, Dealers United is fully committed to helping automotive advertisers maximize their digital marketing efforts. We continue to notice over 86% of dealerships customers match to a Facebook user making it one of the most powerful mediums to reach a dealers local market.

Stay tuned for invites to webinars and other guidance from us on more education, best practices, and any immediate action items as we continue to learn more about this update.

Let’s stay prepared and proactive together!

Blog Author - Drew Detweiler

Written By Drew Detweiler
Drew manages inbound and outbound marketing for Dealers United. When he’s not at work, he’s probably enjoying the outdoors, fishing, or eating.

“Attack On Dealerships” : How Dealers Can Combat Vroom and Carvana’s Messaging

“Attack On Dealerships” : How Dealers Can Combat Vroom and Carvana’s Messaging

“Attack On Dealerships” : How Dealers Can Combat Vroom and Carvana’s Messaging

If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you probably caught Vroom’s commercial that rubbed a lot of us in the dealer community the wrong way.

Carvana has also been taking an anti-dealer message in some of their latest ads and marketing. As dealers, there is plenty enough to stress about without worrying about large-scale messaging disparaging your efforts and adding to the misconception that working with a dealership is a bad experience. 

Many dealers aren’t happy, and are fighting back. 

Dealers Respond to Vroom and Carvana Through Video

Here are 3 examples of dealers who have taken things into their own hands, and shot simple videos that combat the Vroom and Carvana messaging. 

Tips to Create Your Own Anti-Vroom Video

Not every dealer has the ability to drop a highly produced and expensive TV spot at the drop of hat. And even if you could, would it be the most effective?

Facebook and Instagram have become the go-to solution for businesses to reach their markets with a much more targeted and cost-effective strategy than traditional media.
And with Facebook and Instagram, there isn’t always a need to use over-produced media to grab auto shopper’s attention.

Some of the most successful videos that we are seeing from dealers are “native content,” meaning that they just look like a simple selfie video or something that you might “natively” see on your timeline; no need for all $$$ equipment.

Take a look at this example from Thonton Automotive Dover:

This video was simple to create, simple to edit, and reached over 58,000 shoppers in the dealer’s PMA.

With the average American spending 58 minutes per day scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, your dealership can create simple videos, get in front of your target audience, and combat the messages of companies like Vroom and Carvana to get auto shoppers back into your dealership.

Get Our Dealership Secrets to Shooting Powerful and Cost-Effective Videos In-House

Get The Secrets!

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.


Register for the webinar, “The 3 Biggest Facebook Mistakes Even Advanced Dealer Marketers Are Making”!