There are 1.94 billion active Facebook users who spend an hour a day or more on the platform. In fact, nearly every person who buys from your dealership will have a Facebook account. However, according to the 2017 Automotive Digital Marketing Intelligence Report, only 10% of all dealers are utilizing Facebook advertising, and many of them aren’t advertising effectively.

What does that mean? It means you should be advertising on Facebook! Here’s how it’s done:

Line Up Your Targets

If you advertise through the newspaper, TV, radio or any other traditional advertising source, you’re spending thousands of dollars to broadcast a single message to a general audience. However, there may only be a handful of people in your audience who are looking to buy a car. If they don’t see the car they’re looking for in your advertisement, they’ll probably forget about you.

Facebook allows you to target someone who lives close to your dealership and wants to buy a new SUV and tailor an ad specifically to them. You can target by automotive behavior, income level, job title, net worth or any of a number of other attributes through the use of Facebook ads.

This ability to specifically craft your message makes Facebook a goldmine for auto dealers. Let’s say “John” is a potential customer of your dealership. John has never bought from your dealership, but he’s a big car enthusiast. While looking for a new SUV, John finds your website. After browsing for a few minutes, John gets a phone call from his sister, who’s just arrived from out of town, and John goes to pick her up from the airport.

At this point, two things can happen: In the first scenario, John forgets about your dealership and, after a few weeks, he sees a great offer from a rivaling dealership. On that same visit, John decides to buy a new luxury SUV, and paid in cash. In the second, that evening, John sees another ad from you while on Facebook for the exact SUV he was looking at on your website. The next day, he purchases the SUV from your dealership, in cash.

Before you learn how to create the ad, it’s crucial to know what makes Facebook such an advertising machine. That’s where the Facebook pixel comes into play.

Get to Know the Facebook Pixel

Facebook describes the Pixel as an analytics tool that allows users to track the “actions” (e.g. viewing a specific page) its users take on your website. Using the Facebook pixel, you can, among other things:

  • Track how many people your ad has reached and how engaged people are with said ad
  • Show ads to people who have visited a certain page or watched one of your videos
  • Create audiences of people similar to top buyers

The Facebook pixel presents a massive opportunity for car dealerships. You can use it to show someone an ad for the exact car they were looking at on your website — but on Facebook. Your ad copy could say something like “We noticed you were looking at our [insert car here]. Want to take it for a test drive?” This is known as “retargeting,” and it is very effective.

Retargeting allows you to reach people that are already familiar with your brand, which means they have already engaged with an ad from you, or they have been to your website, and have therefore exhibited interest in buying a car from you. Most of our successful campaigns come from retargeting, and I cannot stress enough how crucial this could be for your dealership.

Another powerful feature of the Facebook pixel is the ability to create Lookalike Audiences, a feature which allows you to find people similar to your existing customers. For example, if you have a list of buyers for a specific model of car, you can use that to create a Lookalike Audience and show them an ad for that exact car.

Build Your Facebook Ad

There are three core components to creating a Facebook ad: campaign, ad set, and the ad itself. Your Campaign is your objective — to create awareness, consideration or conversion. Ad set is the audience you selected to target. The ad could be a mobile, desktop, video or image.

1. Campaign: Your campaign screen should look something like this if you’re creating a campaign in Facebook’s Ad Manager:

As you can see, there are three core objective options, awareness, consideration and conversion. The objective you choose will depend on what your goal for the ad is. If you want people to come to your website to check out a new sale, then you’ll choose traffic or conversion. It is important to note that you should treat each objective differently, as Facebook will show your ads to different segments of your potential audience based on which objective you picked.

One strategy that I find effective is to run a captivating video as an ad either for the video views or engagement objective. This allows me to reach people that are likely to watch and interact with my content.

After my ad has been shown to cold traffic (people who haven’t heard of me), I run another ad to people who have watched at least 50% of my video, this time prompting them to come into the dealership for a test drive, or a similar offer. People that view this ad are much more likely to convert to my offer, because they have already engaged with my content.

2. Ad set: The ad set on the campaign is where all the targeting happens. There’s a lot happening in this section, so let’s break this down. The first option is conversion, which is only applicable to conversion campaigns.

If you’re running a conversion ad, this is where you specify what qualifies as a conversion. Examples of this would be “view content,” “lead” or any action you would like to promote. Next, choose whom you’re showing your ad to.

You will be able to modify the location, age, gender, language, interests and behaviors. If you are running a retargeting or lookalike audience campaign, this would be selectable in the “custom audience” field, as long as you have already created an audience. I recommend keeping the audience size within 25 miles.

As for age and gender, this really depends on your objective for the ad. If you’re trying to sell Ford F-150s, it’s safe to say your ads will perform better with males. Use existing auto sales data to determine what demographic will be best.

“Interest” and “behaviors” is where things get intriguing. This is where you can target people based on when they’re looking to buy a car, what make of car they’re looking to buy, and whether they’re looking to buy new or used, as we did in our previous example with the Toyota. This allows you to test multiple combinations of highly targeted ads, all for a very low upfront investment. This is truly what makes Facebook ads so powerful. Even if only one campaigns performs well, that one campaign could be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

Placements are where your ad is shown. I typically find Facebook and Instagram feeds to be the most effective. An exception to this is if I’m running a retargeting ad, in which case I’ll turn all placements on. The purpose of retargeting ads is to keep your dealership in the forefront of your prospect’s mind.

Facebook Advertising works on a bidding system, which means your daily budget dictates the amount of people your ad reaches. I start almost all of my ad sets at $5/day because I like to test many different ad sets. This allows me to minimize my investment, as some ad sets will perform much better than others and I can cut out the poorly performing ad sets quickly.

3. Ad: The ad is what your audience will actually see in the placements you have chosen. You can choose between single image, carousel, slideshow, collection and single video. I find video ads to be the most effective, because they generally result in the lowest cost per impression and are more likely to be shared.

One great ad feature is the “Use Existing Post” option, which allows you to take advantage of posts that have already racked up many likes and comments. This is great for ads because it gives the dealership credibility through social proof, increasing the click-through rate (CTR) of ads.

The key to great ads are to use a captivating piece of content, such as a video or image, coupled with engaging ad copy. However, the single most important aspect of the ad is the opening line! Without a strong hook, the effectiveness of the ad drops significantly.

To write a good hook, I like to ask a question that results in an implied “Yes” from my target audience. Couple that with good targeting, and you’ve got an irresistible offer! For example, If I use my previous example of targeting for someone looking for a new Toyota SUV, my hook might sound something like: “Want to test-drive a new Toyota RAV4?”

After the hook, a few other elements I include in every ad are scarcity, building rapport, and making an offer. Once you have put it all together, you’ll get something that looks like this:

Using only this information, you should be able to boost your dealership’s revenue through effective Facebook advertising. However, if you don’t implement these strategies properly, or at all, then you are leaving money on the table, especially since only 10% of car dealerships are utilizing Facebook. Now is definitely the time to take advantage of this massive opportunity.

Jayden Maharaj is the CEO of Axis Marketing, a company that specializes in digital marketing for small businesses and ecommerce companies. Contact him at [email protected].