[PART I] Automotive’s Secret Weapon: What Your Dealership NEEDS To Know About Facebook Ads

Dec 12, 2017 | Social Media

In the first of this 3-part series, I’m going to tell you the reason behind why so many automotive dealers, OEMs, and agencies are investing so heavily in Facebook. (HINT: It has to do with who you’re able to reach…) If your dealership is wondering about Facebook Ads, like why you need them instead of regular posts, how much they cost, and if they actually work, you have to read this:

This is Part I of a 3-part series originally written for and published in The SHOP Magazine. This version has been revised to cater specifically to Dealers United’s dealer-members. PART II | PART III

What Is “Automotive’s Secret Weapon”?

I’ll be honest:

Maybe it’s not so secret. In fact, thousands of advertisers are already doing it, some dealerships think they’re doing it, and fewer still are actually doing it RIGHT.

But what if I told you this secret weapon would help your dealership easily reach local consumers who you knew were seeking a new vehicle…

…and/or buyers of service or aftermarket parts…

…or even super-specific groups, like local teachers, or subscribers to popular automotive magazines?

What if I told you this was the most simple, effective way to advertise your dealership—guaranteeing you more reach than word-of-mouth and more impact than traditional methods…

…PLUS ensure that you could match real sales to your ad campaigns—all without breaking the bank?

And what if I told you it could be unlocked right from your desktop computer?

I’m talking about advertising your dealership on Facebook.

WAIT! Before you skeptically click away, I have 3 quick facts about Facebook that I hope will get your attention:

  • There are 214 million active users on Facebook in the U.S., and each user spends 50 minutes per day scrolling through their News Feeds. If you want to be where your customers are, Facebook is it.
  • Facebook has the 2nd largest share of the global online ad market, right behind Google.
  • When I talk about Facebook Ads, I’m referring to intensive In-Market Auto Shopper data targeting and intelligent user profiling—NOT posting on your Business Page or Boosting posts. (Is your dealership still Boosting posts? STOP and read this!)

Facebook has slowly made itself a staple in most small, medium, and large businesses’ advertising strategies.

But how? How did Facebook, a social media channel, even transform into an advertising platform?

More importantly, how did it turn into an ad platform that works for a small niche like automotive dealers?

After this 3-part series, you’ll know the fundamentals of Facebook Ads and the answers to “WHY” your dealership needs it, the most powerful Facebook Ad campaigns for auto dealers, and 5 fixed ops campaigns that’ll change how you think about social media and Facebook.

Up first: What your dealership NEEDS to know about Facebook Ads.


A Look Back: Facebook Gets Un-Social

Originally, Facebook was exactly what it was intended to be: a social media platform.

But once it began raking in a whopping 2.01 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide, Facebook became a hot commodity for businesses hoping they could use Facebook to reach their digital-savvy customers.

A few years ago, every business was given the same advice to perform well on Facebook: “Create a Business Page, post daily, and increase Page Likes.”


While these tactics were (and still remain) important, they are just the start of what businesses can do through Facebook today.

What caused the change?

Well, around 2014, users began complaining that their posts were being buried by content from businesses on the Facebook News Feed. As a result, Facebook changed its algorithm to help distribute businesses’ posts VS. user content, and businesses saw an average 12.5% decline in organic (unpaid) reach.

This had a BIG impact.

As a result, Business Pages with more than 500,000 Likes could only achieve an organic reach of 2% ([email protected]). Meaning if your Page had 10,000 Facebook fans, only 200 would actually see your posts.

Since then, businesses have had to place ad spend behind their content on Facebook to achieve a legitimate reach.

But thankfully, when it comes to Facebook Advertising, a small budget can go a long way.

Are Facebook Ads Affordable For Auto Dealerships?

When examining if Facebook ads are cost effective, let’s compare them to other marketing channels used by some local businesses today.

According to an article on Huffington Post, a business would spend about $2,250 per week on a billboard in Birmingham, Alabama in order to reach 275,000 people at least 5.5 times each.

Now if a business were to run a Facebook ad in the same area with a daily budget of $50, it would reach 25,000-70,000 users per week, and (if we apply the same frequency as the billboard), would gather 385,000 impressions.

Plus, you’re paying to reach ANY and EVERY consumer. Not specifically targeted ones.

By comparison, a Facebook ad would likely accomplish the same reach as the billboard for far less money. (And you can target your potential customers, but we’ll get into that later.)

Because its goal is to cater to any business’ budget, Facebook has made their advertising platform extremely flexible. Businesses can set maximum budgets at both campaign and ad levels to ensure they never spend too much.

Plus, you can choose how you want to pay: based on clicks, views, how many goals were achieved, etc.

Arguably, the key to a low ad spend all begins with targeting the right message, to the right people, at the right time. That’s exactly what Facebook is built to do; and it all starts with the data.

A Data Jackpot For Niche Advertisers

With 214 million active users in the U.S. alone, Facebook is capturing a massive amount of data about consumers.

In addition to the information its users add to their own Facebook profile like age, gender, and relationship status, Facebook also records user actions such as Page Likes, what cities they “check in” to, and other behaviors in order to help build ultra-rich data logs.

But it doesn’t stop there.

To help businesses reach their ideal prospects, Facebook has also formed partnerships with 3rd party data aggregates like POLK Automotive data, Oracle Data Cloud, Datalogix, TransUnion and Experian.

Today, millions of custom data selects are available for Facebook advertisers to help them build specific audiences.

This means businesses can target based on behaviors like recent life events such as moving into a new home, whether or not they listen to the radio, what job title they have, and what kind of products they tend to buy.

And—more specifically—there are hundreds of automotive data targeting options.

Image – AdvertiseMint

Quick example: We help over 6,500 auto dealers nationwide find digital solutions for their businesses, including Facebook Advertising.

Using Facebook’s data, a local auto dealership could target people who:

  • are males and females within 25 miles of their store
  • 21+ years of age
  • planning to buy a car within 180 days who specifically want an SUV
  • have owned their current car for 5 years or longer
  • commute to work
  • have a credit score between 661 to 780
  • …and who are active credit card users

While this is a very specific audience, it is all very possible through Facebook’s targeting.

The Right Vehicle Ads In Front Of The Right Auto Shoppers

Here’s where Facebook’s “right message, right people” concept truly shines:

We could also divide a dealership’s audience between people with sub-prime credit and super-prime credit scores, and target different messages to each.

For customers with higher credit scores, we can show them a dealership’s luxury vehicles and high-end features, while presenting financing options and messages like “No Credit, No Problem” to subprime customers.

This type of personalized messaging is KEY when connecting with customers in the digital world.

And now automotive dealerships and shop owners can benefit from targeted messaging on Facebook, too.

…but I know what you’re asking now…

Do Facebook Ads Actually Work?

Can an ad on Facebook really help your dealership gain more customers?

Yes, and now Facebook can prove it.

Easily measure the performance of a campaign through Facebook’s pixel tracking codes and Custom Conversions.

With Facebook Custom Conversions, simply set up a completion page (like a Thank You page once a user has successfully transacted online or filled out a form) that is tracked by the pixel in order to monitor your website’s conversions.

Then, in the Ads Manager reporting dashboard, you’ll be able to see how many conversions you’ve achieved as well as cost per each.

But what about brick-and-mortar shops whose transactions occur OFFLINE?

While pixel codes and Custom Conversions connect the dots between website traffic and digital conversions, they really only benefit ecommerce businesses—not brick-and-mortar shops.

Now, your shop can do both.

Facebook launched Offline Events in 2016, which help stores compare sales reports to Facebook campaign data to see if ads are actually impacting sales.

If your shop has ever invested in direct mail or email campaigns and received a “sales matchback report,” Offline Event reports operate much in the same way.

At the end of the month or quarter, upload your sales report in Ads Manager and choose the campaign you want to measure it against. You’ll know immediately which ads are generating sales and which need to be improved upon.

Plus, Offline Events also provide unique insights into which of your aftermarket products are trending by looking at what pieces of inventory are getting the most click-throughs, views, and—ultimately—sales.

WHAT ARE FACEBOOK OFFLINE EVENTS? Facebook Offline Events match your Facebook ad campaigns to your dealership’s sales reports to see which Facebook users have been influenced by your ads. Want to learn more? Read this article.

Next Up:

Now you are aware of the MUST-KNOWS of Facebook Ads for auto dealers.

If you’re asking just one more question, I’ll bet it’s something along the lines of:

“What are the BEST Facebook Ad campaigns for my dealership?”

Read on!

[PART II] Automotive’s Secret Weapon: The Best and Most Powerful Facebook Ad Campaigns For Auto Dealers

[PART III] Automotive’s Secret Weapon: 5 Aftermarket Campaign Ideas That Will Make You Rethink Facebook

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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