It’s all about the targeting. The mantra that many in the automotive industry chant about social media is that it’s big and huge and gigantic and you have to be on it. Unfortunately, these concepts miss the real value of social media. Now, there are results that clearly demonstrate that the real ROI comes from understanding and utilizing the data that these sites have to offer.

For a long time, we’ve been promoting our automotive social media services around the concept of using incredible targeting data to make it effective, but it was a recent conversation with a peer in the industry that made us realize that what we are doing is special. Most are aware that you can use demographic data, Polk buyer data, and consumer list information to place relevant ads in front of people through social media. However, the way that the ads are created, promoted, and constantly refined is where the ultimate value resides.

Here’s the hard data that had a pair of automotive social media gurus second guessing what they’ve been doing with their own clients. The only thing more satisfying than impressing the gurus is impressing our clients.

Though this is a blog post, we’re going to break it down into steps so that you can understand the process of using social media to drive real results – selling more cars and driving more service business.

Step 1: Identify In-Market Customers

Social media has the data. You can target in so many different ways and personalize the campaigns around your targeting to the point that if you can dream it up, you can probably achieve it. In the example above, we’re going after very basic targeting. We are going after “people in households that are likely to buy a used Chevrolet truck in the next 180 days.”

Of course, that’s a lot of people – over 1.2 million in the United States. We have to narrow it down. In this particular case, we are targeting for a small city close to a major metro and expanding our reach to a 25 mile radius. This will get us into the metro area but only the outskirts closest to the dealership.

Because we will be targeting certified pre-owned with this ad, we also limited it to people over 21-years-old. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s enough limitation to improve the quality of the clicks. All in all, this ad will be targeting 6,800 people within driving distance to the dealership who have indicated they intend to buy a Chevy truck in the next 180 days. This is the type of targeting you simply cannot get with other venues.

Done right, the targeting possibilities are endless, which means that limitations on campaign types are minimal. Target current customers, perhaps those who have been in the service drive before but who have not been back in the last 365 days. Target students with college graduation programs. Target people currently in a lease with early return specials. So many options. It just takes some experience and a creative way of looking at the data.

Step 2: Position the Ads with Transparency

There is no need to “coax” people to click through to your website. In fact, you don’t want them to unless they’re really interested. This is why it’s so important to make it crystal clear what you’re doing with your campaign to minimize the accidental clicks.

Some shoot for the lowest possible cost per click, but that’s not exactly the right approach. If the cost per click is too low (under $.30-$.35 per click depending on the market and brand) then the ad is likely not very transparent. We want people to know that they’ll be clicking through to inventory, specials, a landing page, or some other form of sales page on the dealership website. If they accidentally click, they are worthless traffic for the most part.

Be straight forward. You can do this through unpublished posts. Most dealers do not want a bunch of ads on their Facebook wall and that’s fine – you can have your cake and eat it, too. Unpublished posts will only appear on the sidebar and in the news feeds of the people you’re targeting. It won’t appear on your wall or to any of your fans unless they’re part of the targeting.

By being transparent, adding a “Shop Now” or a similar button, and clearly telling them where they will be going if they click through from Facebook, you’ll maximize the quality and reduce the risks of having your ads reported, blocked, or ignored. In the case above, many would say that $.41 is high. That’s fine. We’re not here to try to save pennies (yes, literally pennies) per click. We’re here to drive high-quality traffic to the site and if that means spending a little more, so be it. Remember, we’re used to paying dollars for clicks from other venues. The dimes paid for targeting social media clicks are worth it.

With that out of the way, it’s time to go to…

Step 3: Drive Buyers to the Website

Whether through automotive PPC, third party listing sites, or other forms of advertising, our industry has grown accustomed to paying $3, $5, or more per click to their website. With social media, the cost per click of a properly optimized campaign is much, much lower. The best part is that, as we mentioned already, it’s hyper-targeted the way that you want it presented.

Doing it right requires constant testing, tweaking, and improvement. You can run six different images per ad and you can run any number of ads per campaign. Facebook is great at identifying top performers amongst the ads, but you can’t let it go on autopilot. Monitor daily. Watch the numbers. It only takes a couple of minutes but you can truly optimize your campaigns if you’re keeping a close eye on them.

In the case above, 1001 people who have indicated they intend to buy a new Nissan in the next 180 days clicked through from Facebook to see this dealership’s inventory. It’s no surprise that sales are up since starting this campaign. Not bad for $300/month in ad spend.

Step 4: Constant Testing and Refining Campaigns

This is the secret sauce. It’s the differentiator. It’s what we do that makes our campaigns so successful.

Check. Test. Adjust. Daily.

That’s it. The data is there. You can set it and forget it or you can add and remove ads and campaigns on a constant basis. That’s where the juice is. You do not want a campaign to give your potential customers “fatigue”. You don’t want them seeing the same ad 10 different times. Eventually, they’ll block it because they’ve simply seen it too much. Depending on the market, brand, and size of your budget, it’s possible to need to adjust and improve your ads every single day of the week to maximize ROI.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take much time or effort. It takes persistence, experience, and data that you can accumulate by doing it the right way (and sometimes the wrong way) to learn what works best. Rotate through. Refine the messaging. Play around with it and make it work until you’re tangibly selling cars on a regular basis directly through social media.

The option, of course, is to hire us to do it for you. We don’t mind. We get as much of a kick out of your success as you do.

If you want to learn more and find out what the potential is in your area, please contact us now!