The auto group makes Pinterest an integral part of its marketing plan after it sold over 150 vehicles during a 3-month pilot program.  -  IMAGE: Getty Images

The auto group makes Pinterest an integral part of its marketing plan after it sold over 150 vehicles during a 3-month pilot program.

IMAGE: Getty Images

Healey Brothers, an auto group with nine retail centers in New York’s Hudson Valley, takes an omnichannel approach to connecting with customers, one that includes a strong digital presence across many platforms.

 “You cannot rely on one platform anymore to get your message, product, or service to your customers,” stresses Jay Healey, Digital Advertising and Social Media Director for Healey Brothers Auto Group. “We need to meet our customers on all fronts, whether that be SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.”

The 45-year-old auto retailer relies on a strong web presence that includes websites that connect to social media platforms. Healey Brothers maintains a presence on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

All platforms produce results, but Jay stresses Pinterest delivers its dealerships lower funnel shoppers, those consumers who show the potential to buy but haven’t yet. “We found and proved Pinterest as a new place to find lower funnel shoppers that other dealers are not leveraging, giving us a competitive advantage,” he says.

It’s safe to call Healey Brothers “Pinterest pioneers. The auto group took part in an official Pinterest pilot program for auto dealers from October to December 2021. It worked so well, Jay says, “We have continued using Pinterest as part of our media mix ever since and have expanded our partnership to include additional strategies.”

The auto group sold over 150 vehicles during the pilot and could track the sales to exposure on Pinterest. “Because of these sales, we expanded our strategy to include awareness campaigns and have tracked a 43% decrease in cost per vehicle sold,” he says.

Why Pinterest?

Healey Brothers is on a constant quest to uncover new opportunities for omnichannel advertising, but Jay admits the auto group didn’t always have Pinterest on its radar. Pinterest is “the” place to go for décor, cooking, interior design, fashion and DIY projects, but not one people might consider when shopping for a car, he explains.

Tracking metrics during the pilot quickly changed their minds. The dealership tracked metrics for all Pinterest ad campaigns through its ad system and offline sales via its conversion upload tool. Evaluating these metrics with the Pinterest and Dealers United teams showed people come to Pinterest with “a shopping mindset,” says Jay. “They are specific in what they want to accomplish, whether it be in sales or service. Our customers on Pinterest are well researched and have a high rate of sale.”

Kim Blommer, automotive industry lead for Pinterest, explains Pinterest is a “home of discovery,” where 100 million people “come [every month] to find visual inspiration for all of life’s moments, whether it’s a next meal, a dream wedding, or even a perfect new family car.”

This discovery leads to further consideration and purchase, Blommer adds, noting Pinners are 63% more likely to say they made an auto purchase based on content they saw on Pinterest, compared to people on other social media platforms.3

“People come to Pinterest with a shopping mindset,” Blommer says. “They are intentional in their buying, purchase more, and, on average, have larger basket sizes. Pinners spend two times more than people on other platforms.4 So, whether they are coming to look for a new car, furniture, or dinnerware, we see strong purchase intent.”

In the automotive space, Pinterest research shows consumers in the auto shopping market use the platform to “get inspired, narrow down their options, and to help make final purchase decisions for their automotive needs.”In fact, seven out of 10 auto shoppers on Pinterest use it for final purchase decisions during their automotive shopping journey. 1

Blommer adds, “Pinners also care about quality and are 30% more likely to spend on high quality models or upgrades with automotive purchases.”5

Research shows people experiencing a major event such as having a baby, getting married or moving are 2.4 times more likely to buy a car. 2 This space offers a perfect place for dealerships to get “in front of audiences with a strong shopping intent with a personalized message that resonates with them and the life moments they are in or planning for,” Blommer adds.

Pinterest reaches 10 million people actively engaging with auto content and 18 million people in the market for a new vehicle every month. 2 “In 2021, we saw one in four Pinners engaged with auto content and that Pinners are 23% more likely than non-Pinterest users to research a car online before purchase,” Blommer says.5

Male Pinners represent a high intent, highly engaged audience for vehicle purchases. Auto is among the top indexing categories for men. “They’re 30% more likely to have an interest in auto than men who are not on Pinterest,” Blommer says. “They also are 40% more likely to be planning a car purchase in the next six months than men who are not on Pinterest.”6 

How Pinterest Works

Pinterest makes it simple for advertisers to tap into shopping Pinners via three key elements:

  • Catalogs—the feed ingestion tool.
  • Product Pins (organic)—the Pin format generated through a feed or saved as a Rich Pin.
  • Shopping Ads—the promoted version of feed-based product Pins.

Auto dealers can load their new vehicle inventory feed directly to a Pinterest Ads Manager account, which creates pins automatically. They can then promote product pins as shopping ads to reach Pinners who are actively looking for new vehicles in their area.

In its Pinterest pilot, Healey Brothers uploaded their entire vehicle inventory into a catalog to showcase across Pinterest.

Healey Bros’ media agency, Dealers United, coordinated the entire project, collaborating with both parties to get the auto group’s inventory uploaded and transformed into “Product Pins” that include photos of the vehicles and details such as a vehicle description, price and availability.

The auto group relies on Pinterest’s product feature to upload inventory data automatically every 24 hours to always keep inventory current. The initial feed can take up to 48 hours to complete. After that, each update occurs every 24 hours.

Jay explains, “The Pinterest Catalog feature works by automatically syncing new inventory for each of our stores to their Pinterest profiles. This way we can reach shoppers with the inventory we have available. The catalog refreshes every 24 hours to ensure the inventory we showcase on Pinterest is actually available on our lots.”

The entire process works seamlessly, he adds, noting that the Dealers United team managed all set up, which only took a few days. The process included placing the Pinterest tag and event pixels on their websites and uploading the vehicle inventory feed. Syncs now occur automatically.

“It’s no secret that automotive inventory is in short supply in today’s market,” he says. “Having our inventory automatically uploaded every 24 hours ensures people on Pinterest only see the inventory we have available.”

Tips for Success

Jay encourages all dealers to take Pinterest for a test drive. He calls it “an underutilized platform within the dealer space. It has opened the door to new opportunities and audiences with the intent and means to purchase a vehicle,” he says.

But it’s not just a matter of if you build it, they will come. Dealerships must tailor messages to the audience. Jay explains, “Make sure the message, and the creatives, speak to the audience you hope to reach. Information on third row seating in an SUV may appeal to families, whereas towing capacity may mean more to outdoor enthusiasts. We always design messages with the intended audience in mind. We never just put out blanket messaging.”

Jay also stresses success comes through a teamwork. Being in sync with the internal team is important. “Our team at Healey Brothers understands the importance of digital advertising,” he says. “We work together to bounce ideas off of each other, try new things, or to try new custom content to increase engagement.”  

The time is now to test new social media platforms, and Jay says Pinterest is a great place to start. Consumers are on their phones using different social channels for hours each day. “If you are not meeting the customer on one of these channels, your message isn’t getting to them effectively,” he concludes.

Ronnie Wendt is an editor for Auto Dealer Today.