2 Major Shifts In Auto Buyer Motivations Due To COVID-19

2 Major Shifts In Auto Buyer Motivations Due To COVID-19

2 Major Shifts In Auto Buyer Motivations Due To COVID-19

2020 has been a year of adjustment and change. Individuals and business owners were faced with challenges we never imagined that we’d see. 

As auto buyers navigate this new landscape, their behavior and motivations have changed.

Here are 2 important new trends that are being observed in our industry.

Trend 1: People are looking to personal vehicles to plan safe getaways

According to a poll from Facebook IQ, car owners largely view personal vehicles as the safest method of transportation currently. 

In fact, 65% of US consumers said they will most likely drive on their next trip. 

The poll also revealed that 2.2X as many consumers plan to drive on their next vacation opposed to flying. 

While this may be sombering news for the airline industry, this should be welcoming to auto dealers, who can take advantage of terrific OEM incentives to attract an expanding shopper base.

Trend 2: Peoples’ motivation for purchasing cars has changed

Just as auto buyers’ opinions of safe travel have changed, their reasons for purchasing vehicles have also shifted. 

Shoppers are now 1.9X more likely to say the main reason they were looking for a new vehicle is because of a deal or promotion. 

They are also 1.9X as likely to say they were in-market because their car broke down and 2X more likely to say they were looking to avoid public transportation and ride sharing services. 

Here is chart showing top buyer motivations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Source: Facebook IQ – Industry Micro-Shifts Monthly Tracker by Kantar Profiles

Here’s how you can use these 2 trends to your dealership’s advantage.

Use incentives and tie in road trip messaging

Use your OEM’s creative assets and incentives to proactively reach out to in-market shoppers, with messaging about why your inventory is perfect for their upcoming road trip!

Then, retarget those interested shoppers with additional offers, your live inventory, or ways they can apply for financing or take the vehicle for a test drive.

Offer upgrades with eye-catching ad content

Make the most of Facebook and Instagram with a scroll-stopping ad about upgrades to convince shoppers to hop into something more reliable.

Want more ideas on for buy back campaign ads? Click here to check out “The Buy Back Playbook: 13 Ideas To Help You Stock Up On Used Inventory By Going Direct-To-Consumer”!

Despite all the change that’s happened in 2020 so far, auto shoppers remain resilient and continue to shop and purchase vehicles. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive traffic and leads from using a combination of Facebook, incentives, and a data-driven approach! 

Want to learn more about the auto shoppers in your market?

Click here to build your dealership’s Market Intelligence Report and immediately get insights like:

  • Total Facebook Users you can reach on Facebook
  • # of In-Market Auto Shoppers in your PMA
  • User Demographics (Gender, Age)
  • User Credit Score
  • …and more!

Build your free Market Intelligence Report now.

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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.

Facebook Launches Private Facebook Automotive Group For Dealerships

Facebook Launches Private Facebook Automotive Group For Dealerships

Facebook Launches Private Facebook Automotive Group For Dealerships

The Facebook Automotive Team just launched the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective Group, a private Facebook Group exclusively for auto dealers and the auto community.

The goal of the new social Group is to connect dealers from across the globe to help each other overcome hurdles and grow together as an industry.

The purpose of the new Facebook Automotive Group

Bob Lanham, Head of Facebook Automotive Retail, defined the Groups purpose as follows:

Upon joining the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective Group, dealers can gain immediate access to Facebook resources and strategies for dealers, as well as receive news directly from the top of the Facebook Automotive Team.

Why dealers should join the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective Group

A group such as this has long been anticipated by Dealers United and the Facebook Automotive Team.

Dealers United and its dealer-partners have frequently been invited to Facebook’s automotive conferences and have hosted events like the State of Automotive alongside Facebook, but has always hoped for an online community of dealers to consistently share best practices and ideas.

Pete Petersen, CEO, Dealers United
“As our name implies, Dealers United has always sought to unify the dealer community, because we are stronger together. We were an early adopter of Facebook before fully transitioning ourselves to solely being a Facebook and Instagram advertising company. Because of our work with Facebook, we have become a Facebook Marketing Partner, have had several of our dealer-partners featured as Success Stories by Facebook, and been able to host events with the Facebook Auto Team. I believe that the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective is going to be a terrific tool to continue to unify dealers with a common purpose and strengthen us as a community.”

The more dealers we can bring together in this forum, the larger our force and collective ideas will become.

How to join the private Group

To join the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective, simply log in to Facebook, visit this page, and click the button, “Join Group.”

You will then need to authorize that you are a Dealership / Dealer Group, OEM, or Agency.

Your request will be reviewed by the Group’s admins and approved upon verifying that you are apart of the automotive community.

Want to skip the form and get instant access to the Group? Add our CEO, Pete Petersen, on Facebook here, and he’ll send you a direct invite!

More Facebook Resources For Auto To Come

With the launch of this Group, it’s clear that Facebook is doubling-down on automotive, and is focusing more horsepower on insights and best practices to help dealers reach their communities as effectively as possible.

Last year, Facebook launched their Facebook Automotive Playbook and Zero Friction Future resources with that objective in mind.

These resources have helped both dealerships and agencies improve their Facebook Advertising strategies to move more metal.


Power Ford, one of Dealers United’s clients, followed the principles of the Facebook Automotive Playbook and used Facebook to help provide a “frictionless” experience for their customers. These efforts allowed them to save $285,000 on advertising in 12 months and become the #1 Ford dealership in New Mexico 7 times. The agency and dealership were the only Tier III recognized by Facebook for their work with Zero Friction Future in February of 2020, and Facebook continues to help Power Ford sell more cars while spending less.

In addition to joining the Facebook Auto Marketing Collective Group, here are some other ways to stay up to date with the last Facebook Ads resources:

Affected by COVID-19? These resources can help.

Click 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.

Vehicle Inventory Low? 4 Ideas To Source and Re-Stock On The Models You Want (Without Going To Auction)

Vehicle Inventory Low? 4 Ideas To Source and Re-Stock On The Models You Want (Without Going To Auction)

Vehicle Inventory Low? 4 Ideas To Source and Re-Stock On The Models You Want (Without Going To Auction)

While consumer confidence continues to rise and more positive indicators for the auto industry are revealed each week, another challenge is starting to emerge for dealerships:

…diminishing inventory. 

Since vehicle factories and auctions have been closed or suspended over the last few months, many dealers are now worried that they will not have enough inventory to sell as demand continues increasing.

According to Cox Automotive, “new-vehicle inventory is low – less than 3.3 million vehicles by last count, the lowest volume in more than a year.” This puts a significant pinch on high-demand vehicles like SUVs and trucks.

Here are a few solutions your dealership can explore to replenish your inventory immediately and cost-effectively. 

Stock Up On Used Inventory By Going Direct-To-Consumer

Used inventory is an important part of any dealership’s business, but with most dealers relying on auto auctions and trade-ins, supply has come to a screeching halt.

Dealers have calculated costs upward of $1,500 to acquire a vehicle at auction. Factors include auction fees, transportation fees, and depreciation. Not to mention you’re dependent on the inventory selection, times to buy, and delivery schedules that could impact your floor plan.

Instead, dealers should look to source vehicles directly from consumers. Here’s how:

Idea #1: Buy Back Campaigns

A lot of people are looking to sell their vehicles right now, or maybe even just get out of an intimidating payment. 

Use IHS Markit data from Oracle Data Cloud to specifically target owners of desirable model lines your dealership wants. You can even narrow down targeting to owners of Makes, certain Models, and even how long they’ve owned their vehicle.

Then, run a straight Buy Back campaign on Facebook telling consumers that you’ll offer them a great price to buy back their vehicle, and that you’ll take their vehicle even if they don’t buy their next car from you!

Idea #2: Oil Change Special

Present an irresistible oil change offer targeted at specific model line owners.

Build a Facebook Custom Audience consisting of your customers who haven’t purchased or recently, or use Oracle 3rd party data and find owners of the makes you want to show them the offer!

Use a unique price point like “$9.99” to easily track where your service business is coming from and to alert your team to inspect the vehicle while it’s on the lift. If it’s what you’re looking for, make an offer to put them in a new vehicle.

This strategy is a great way to bring in brand defectors who live in your PMA/AOR and are not currently buying from you.

Idea #3: Trade-Up Campaign

Many vehicle owners simply want to stay in the model they’re in already. 

You can run a “trade keys” campaign to allure targeted model line owners to trade their vehicle in for a new model, giving you a desired used unit that you can add to your CPO or used inventory.

Deliver ads showing your easy Trade-In calculator that they can complete from the comfort of their home, or run ads showing exactly which body style (Truck/SUV/Car) you’re looking for.

Idea #4: Advertise What You Have

While there isn’t much you can do about your OEM’s new vehicle supply, there are ways you can maximize and quickly move the inventory that you do have on your lot.

Using Facebook Automotive Inventory Ads (AIA), you can display your live, on the ground inventory to in-market shoppers. 

Look at your SRP’s and heaviest grouped models and budget a larger amount for those units that your dealership has a surplus of.

Prospect shoppers with your live inventory and then retarget browsers of your lower stock inventory to show them what you have available. 

Since customer safety is still key, be sure to explain what remote offers you have, like at-home test drives and deliveries. 


Layer your “Why Buys,” or why they should buy from your dealership and what sets you apart, into your ad copy. 

Lastly, display and double down on your OEM’s incentives to show shoppers that right now is a great time to buy!

Recap: A Targeted Facebook and Instagram Inventory Buy Back Strategy

Facebook and Instagram paired with Oracle Data are great tools to get out in front of audiences where they are spending their time right now. 

Reach users who are willing to sell their vehicles to get much needed inventory for your dealership, display oil change and trade up offers with the intention of getting desirable units, and prioritize advertising the inventory you have on the lot now. 

Shopper demand continues to grow after the effects of COVID-19. Be sure that you have the models they want, before they defect to your competitor.

If you need help using Facebook and Instagram to source and re-stock your vehicle inventory, schedule a strategy call with us here. 

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.

The Revival Of The Automotive Industry Post-COVID-19

The Revival Of The Automotive Industry Post-COVID-19

The Revival Of The Automotive Industry Post-COVID-19

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the start of “busy season” for auto dealers, but COVID-19 has certainly affected dealers’ sales expectations for this month.

However, with lifted stay-at-home orders, stimulus checks, the delayed tax season, and never-before-seen OEM incentives, consumer confidence is coming back.

Dealership traffic and sales have been down across the nation over the past months, but studies from across the industry are showing that not only has the decline slowed…

…shopper activity is actually starting to increase.

Auto Shopper Intent Is On The Rise

Autotrader has been tracking the anticipated delay in vehicle purchases over the past 6 weeks and for the first time since March 7th, delay percentages are decreasing.

16% more respondents are now expected to purchase within the next 2 months, and 24% of shoppers have gone from being “not sure” when they’re going to buy, to now wanting to purchase sometime within the next 6 months!

Source: Autotrader – “COVID-19 Digital Car Shopping Study”

Additionally, the search term “Is it a good time to buy a car?” has seen a 900% increase month-over-month, and 52% of auto shoppers report that the Coronavirus has still not changed their timeline to buy a new vehicle according to Google, Global Auto Pulse Insights.

Dealer Inspire’s recent studies echo these trends, with a 31% increase in dealership website leads over the past month.  

Source: Dealer Inspire – “Update: Tracking The COVID-19 Rebound For Car Dealers”

One thing is apparent: shoppers are shopping once again.

Vehicle Sales Are Slowly Recovering

According to a recent report by JD Power, sales volume is also up in all 25 major markets except for Denver, Colorado, and April 19th marked the 3rd straight week of improving vehicle sales.  

In their latest Automotive Rapid Response Report, IHS Markit revealed that national registrations are up 48% week-over-week, and there has been a 68% increase week-over-week across the 7 eastern states who are slowly reopening their economies.

New York’s 56% WoW increase alone positively indicates the state’s rebound, after being hit the hardest with almost 1/3 of the nation’s COVID-19 cases.

Source: IHS Markit – “Automotive Rapid Response Report – 29 April 2020

Not only are sales increasing in almost every single market, but they’re projected to continue to increase as the economy recovers and more markets decrease restrictive measures. 

So how can you ensure you’re setting your dealership up to maximize increasing shopper demand in your market once the new-normal begins?

Unlocking Auto Shopper Demand

If one thing is obvious from all these reports, it’s that consumer confidence is on the rise, and Memorial Day may be the mark of a true vehicle sales rebound post-COVID-19.

Here are a few ways you can prepare to capture the upcoming shopper demand:

1. Bring your OEM incentives to the forefront of your message.

According to Autotrader’s COVID-19 Digital Car Shopping Study, OEMs have seen significant lifts in engagement after announcing their incentives and relief programs.

Additionally, shoppers report that one of the biggest triggers that will accelerate their vehicle purchase is if they can find a deal or incentive they cannot refuse.

Source: AutoTrader – “COVID-19 Digital Car Shopping Study”

There are still 49% of shoppers who are delaying, but can still be swayed by incentives.

Pull your OEM Brand incentives down through your messaging, and stretch your ad dollars further by specifically targeting local brand loyalists, or owners of competing brands, who are almost ready to buy.

Using exclusive TransUnion data, you can also build audiences of stimulus check and tax return recipients, showing them tailor-made offers and dealership incentives to further maximize their cash. 


Want to see how other dealers are Unlocking Shopper Demand in time for Memorial Day? Click here!

2. Ensure your dealership has an online presence and is visible to in-market shoppers in your market.

Since people are still going to be doing the majority of their shopping at home, the more information your dealership can make accessible to the customer, the better. 

Consumers report that pricing and special incentives are catching their attention in the latest auto advertisements, but that the look of the vehicle, its capabilities and accessories still have a big influence on their buying decisions.

Provide a “Collage Carousel” ad that tours In-Market shoppers through the vehicle exterior, interior, and technology, and then retarget anyone who clicked the ad and visited your VDP with an OEM incentive!

You can also show shoppers your on-the-ground inventory with Automotive Inventory Ads so they can browse without ever having to leave their homes to make a decision. 

Once they visit your VDPs, you can retarget them with lead ads to help them schedule an at-home test drive, apply for financing, or calculate their monthly payment. 

Begin The “Return To Normal

While we’re all going to need to adjust to the “new normal,” all signs are pointing towards the automotive industry’s recovery. 

The traffic is coming back and almost every market is seeing a boost in sales.

Make sure that your dealership is getting in front of auto shoppers online, where they are spending their time right now. 

Show in-market shoppers your live inventory and dealership and OEM incentives, and increase your dealership’s digital retail services so shoppers can complete as much of the sales process as possible without ever having to step foot in your store. 

We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re on the right track. 

If your dealership wants to Unlock Shopper Demand in time for this Memorial Day, click here to get started.

Car shopper demand is coming.

Build a plan now

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.

Auto Dealer Guide To Unlocking Market Demand

Auto Dealer Guide To Unlocking Market Demand

Auto Dealer Guide To Unlocking Market Demand

As dealers prepare for post-COVID-19 actions to help their local communities get back to work and back to normalcy, plans to unlock the market demand need to be put in place now.

Watch the video below for our Auto Dealer Guide to Unlocking Market Demand:

According to a survey conducted on March 28th, Cox Automotive found that 35% of auto intenders who were in-market to buy within the next 6 months were delaying their vehicle purchase due to COVID-19.

As state, local, and federal governments look to slowly start reopening the economy, pent up demand IS coming.

Now that tax season has been extended, almost $100B has been directly deposited into Americans’ bank accounts, and OEM incentives are higher than ever before, auto dealerships have the opportunity to help these shoppers buy sooner and maximize potential savings.


By proactively building audiences of auto-intenders who recently received tax refunds or stimulus checks, who own your brand, or have leases expiring, we can help you position you to be the first out of the gate to reach these local, in-market auto shoppers who have delayed a vehicle purchase.

Our latest COVID-19 Playbook, “Unlock Demand,” is designed to:

  • Stretch your ad dollars with precise data targeting on tax refund status, receipt of stimulus checks, make/model owners, and lease expirations.
  • Use a full-funnel Facebook & Instagram strategy to strategically show shoppers that now is the right time to purchase a vehicle.
  • Complement your Facebook strategy with ready-to-go retargeting banners, email campaigns, and YouTube videos for a complete, multi-touch campaign

We recommend dealers also leverage onsite tools such as Payment Calculator, Trade Evaluation, Credit Application, and Incentive pages by reaching and driving in-market consumers to these key tools on your site.

Are you ready and prepared to unlock shopper demand?
Visit http://www.unlockdemand.com today and be up-and-running with our comprehensive campaigns within 48 hours.

Car shopper demand is coming.

Build a plan now

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.

Where Is Car Shopper Attention During Coronavirus?

Where Is Car Shopper Attention During Coronavirus?

Where Is Car Shopper Attention During Coronavirus?

Let’s face it: With all the uncertainty around Coronavirus, we’re all too well aware that most consumers aren’t actively looking for cars right now.

In a weekly survey of shoppers looking to buy within the next 6 months, Cox Automotive found that the amount of auto intenders who were delaying an automobile purchase had increased from 7% to 35% in just 3 weeks.

What about traffic? Are shoppers still browsing dealership sites and 3rd party listings?

We aggregated research from industry experts to help find out where auto shopper attention is going, and where it’s dragging behind…

Endemic and 3rd party listing sites experiencing a flux

In an article released on April 3, 2020, Dealer Inspire reported downward trends in unique active shoppers across CARS® audiences, including Cars.com and DealerRater. 

Meanwhile, Cox Automotive reported a similar decline in traffic for other key endemic sites such as AutoTrader, KBB.com and Dealer.com in the first few weeks of March.

Thankfully, Cox also reported that traffic seems to be slowly increasing again as of March 31st.

“Online shopping started to improve in the middle of last week and continues to improve in the latest data that we see,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke.

“AutoTrader saw a 7% gain in VDP views over the past weekend over the prior weekend; KBB saw an 11% gain this past weekend; Dealer.com…saw a deceleration over the weekend in traffic declines that were much worse 2 weeks ago.”

Dealership traffic and Google search volume trending down

Dealer Inspire also reported downward trends in dealer website traffic and leads based on tracking unique daily visitors across over 3,500 dealer websites nationwide.

Source: Dealer Inspire – “New Data: Opportunity For Dealers As COVID-19 Shakes Up Traffic Across Industries

They noted similar Google search trends across their customers and partners as well.

Using Google Trends reports over the last 30 days, we also found that search volume on Google is down from shoppers actively searching for terms like, “dealer near me” and “used car.”

So if auto intenders aren’t actively searching for a car right now and are delaying purchases, where should dealerships be investing their ad dollars to reach them?

Facebook usage on the rise

Unsurprisingly, social media sites are garnering more attention as more and more users are social distancing and staying at home.

According to a blog post on Facebook.com, Facebook is seeing an extreme spike in usage across the globe due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The article states, “The usage growth from COVID-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day. Much of the increased traffic is happening on our messaging services, but we’ve also seen more people using our feed and stories products to get updates from their family and friends.”

Compared to some of the 3rd party sites, Facebook is clearly experiencing more search volume and activity right now.

And while classified listing auto traffic is somewhat declining, Facebook Marketplace continues to have an upward trajectory as well.

Source: Google Trends – This chart shows Facebook Marketplace search popularity over the past 12 months compared to the top 3 leading 3rd party listing providers.

One thing we love about Facebook is that it serves as a proactive channel for advertisers to use to reach their audience.

Dealerships don’t have to wait for shoppers to search for “car dealer near me,” but can instead send their latest messaging out to any shopper in a 15 mile radius from their store.

If you ask us (or Steven Stauning), Facebook is one channel you don’t want to be without in today’s quickly-changing market.

Maximizing attention with the right messaging

People are using Facebook and Instagram now, more than ever, to seek the latest news updates, stay in touch with family and friends, and simply kill time.

Shoppers will recognize which companies in their local communities are there to support them, and keep them safe, versus the ones that are pushing “buy, buy, buy.”

Therefore, you may need to shift your strategy away from asking shoppers to submit leads or come to your lot and test drive a car.

Instead, show them that you’re there as a resource for them: if their car breaks down, or they need an oil change, or yes — if they do want to buy a new car — you’ll be there.

“Previously I know we all focus on the bottom of the funnel, how many leads can we get in, how many leads can we close,” said Brent Parres, Partner Manager at Facebook Automotive during the State of Automotive webinar last week.

“I think this is an opportunity for us to refocus and think of ‘How can I push my brand, my dealership as a brand in this local community that I’m in? How can I stand out from the competition and show that I care about my community?’ While you can do both, I think the messaging for anything on the bottom of the funnel needs to take that branding approach.”

Use Facebook to inexpensively saturate your local community with messaging around:

  • If and when your dealership is open
  • What safe services you’re offering
  • What precautions you’re taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (sanitization, at-home services, etc.)

Want more ideas on how dealerships are effectively messaging during COVID-19? Click here to check out our article, “State of Automotive Dealer-Panel: 5 Key Takeaways and 19 Tips To Come Out Ahead”!

Show your community that your dealership is there for them and you care about their well-being, so that when the dust from this pandemic finally settles, you’re positioned well in your PMA.

Looking for more COVID-19 Resources to help your dealership?

Click Here

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.

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