Auto Dealers are feeling the pinch and marketing budgets are being squeezed, leaving many to ponder how they can get the most from them as we head towards 2020. Here, Facebook’s Paul Balbo outlines some simple steps to make your marketing money work harder.

It’s no secret times are tough in the automotive industry. Sales are under the biggest pressure they have been in a long time, and with ever-increasing competition you need to find a new way to stand out from the crowd.

When you are feeling the pinch it’s easy to default back to the ‘tried and tested’ methods of marketing to drive more customers to your forecourt.

The problem is the golden bullets from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s are no longer the most efficient ways of hitting most of your targets. The good news here is there are some new tools available to you, which can change the odds in your favour.

With 2020 rapidly approaching you need to get your plan together. But how do you decide where to spend your money? And how do you identify the evolving technologies that would be worthwhile testing but are currently under-used by your automotive peers?

You’ve got the customer data at your fingertips, so have a look at who is buying your different models. Are your utes popular with weekend warriors, families, tradies – or my bet, a mix of the above?

Once you’ve refined what audiences you will be targeting, next understand where they are actually spending their time and what media they are consuming. Chances are their habits are vastly different from even two years ago, with many more people spending time on streaming services with limited or no advertising, rather than solely on radio and TV.

As more and more Australians are turning to digital channels to find their perfect vehicle, digital is where you turn good offline marketing messaging into great sales results.

It’s no longer enough to be targeting people based on the rough demographics you think you should be hitting. Age, income, etc may be markers for people’s intentions, but there are a lot of other things you can look at to decide whether someone is a more likely potential customer or not.

You can find people intending to buy vehicles based on their behaviour across our platforms. At Facebook we’ve identified thousands of traits and signals that show when people are in the market for a new vehicle. For example, they browse Marketplace on Facebook looking for vehicles and they often engage with more automotive content on dedicated pages and groups.

The good news is you don’t have to identify these people – the system does all the work for you, and is really cost-effective in converting them into your customers. This isn’t spray and pray, but a personalised approach to marketing that delivers more relevant advertising to the right audiences.

It’s also vital to be creative in the ads you are showing to people. Remember, you need to achieve cut-through against your competitors. This is the secret sauce that will get them onto your forecourt.

Fortunately there is now a suite of tools available, allowing businesses to make some great looking ads pretty much at the touch of a button.

For example, our Automotive Inventory Ads (previously Dynamic Ads for Automotive) allow you to proactively get your used vehicle inventory dynamically to people who are in-market for a new vehicle and spending time on Facebook’s platforms.

Simply upload your vehicle catalogue with details such as make, model and year, and the system automatically generates ads showing the most relevant inventory to the right audiences, driving them toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other high value destinations. Talk to your media agency or inventory feed provider about getting Automotive Inventory Ads set up.

Thinking beyond leads

This is your chance to engage the buyers and influence those decisions when they are most likely to be doing their research – and that is a powerful moment to take advantage of, to swing decisions in your favour. Vehicles aren’t an impulse purchase; you know your customers have done their homework. So give them what they need to consider in an interesting way.

As consumers spend time on digital channels in different ways, the Dealers who are maximising the opportunity across channels like Facebook and Instagram are balancing generating high local reach, driving website traffic and generating leads. Not everyone will submit a lead so it’s important to broaden your definition of success.

Providing a personalised messaging experience for consumers on Facebook’s family of apps will also be one of the ways to set yourself apart in 2020. Beyond answering frequently asked questions, enable consumers to start a conversation around product information, or even book a test drive rather than solely relying on standard lead forms.

Social channels are multi-purpose these days – cost efficient, high reach and providing a very effective conversion to sale.

Maximising marketing efficiencies in 2020 and beyond is going to be incredibly important for the whole industry, and that is going to make competition really fierce for those customers. With a squeezed budget and the increased pressures, it is more important than ever before that you make every cent you spend work harder.

Marketing has always been about striking the right balance between art and science. But with so many new tools available you can take the guesswork out and set your team up for success.

Paul Balbo
Client Partner – Automotive,

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