What Does This All Mean to Dealerships?
Last month, we discussed some of the changes that dealers will be seeing with Marketplace listings. This month, we’ll provide a few things dealers can start doing now to prepare for this change.
Ultimately, change also means opportunity. If you read Facebook’s announcement that its Marketplace partners will no longer be able to push inventory into the Facebook Marketplace using a catalog (feed) as doom-and-gloom, you may have missed the point. Savvy dealerships and agency partners that learn to adopt to Facebook’s new tools will have the opportunity to be on the leading edge of their visions of the future of car sales — and the goal is still to sell cars.
Ever since websites were websites and Facebook was Facebook, the goal was to send buyers from Facebook to dealer websites. Facebook wants to help you sell cars, but it wants to keep buyers on Facebook. So, dealers need to start thinking about how their customer journeys — and their business development center (BDC) processes — can be reimagined on Facebook alone. There are a few things dealers can start doing now to prepare for this change.
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE INVENTORY TAB
Facebook has released a new “inventory tab” that allows you or your agency partner to automatically create listings for your inventory on your Facebook page (as opposed to automatically creating Marketplace listings). You can still manually create Marketplace listings from your inventory tab listing, but the goal is to let Facebook exist as a digital showroom in the same way your website does.
Now, if you’re wondering how to get your inventory into the new inventory tab, look for a partner that has a large database of vehicle and transaction data and can maintain your Facebook catalog and inventory tab for you.
2. ONLY PUSH HIGH-VALUE MARKETPLACE LISTINGS
Facebook is still allowing you to create Marketplace listings for inventory — just one at a time and manually. Yeah, that’s not a lot of fun, and if you were paying someone to push all your inventory for you, you’re probably really annoyed. But consider it an opportunity to dig into what has been your most popular and profitable inventory in Marketplace and train your team to focus on those price or type categories. It’s not that much work, and you’ll prioritize inventory you know will sell.
If you’re using an agency partner, you should be asking it for this data. Your partner can help you determine which vehicles you should be pushing and should supply detailed attribution for every lead, starting with the source.
3. USE MORE AUTOMOTIVE INVENTORY ADS
In the midst of the changes around Marketplace, Facebook has also (less recently) released automotive offer/inventory ads (AIA), a dynamic ad type that pulls inventory images, descriptions and even offers from your inventory catalog to create targeted ads for active shoppers. These ads can be placed in the Marketplace and in news feeds as well as other Facebook locations, such as Instagram.
The new ads are intended to offer more control and better placement options for your inventory, but as with all new tools, there will be a learning curve. We recommend working with an agency partner to make sure you’re taking full advantage.
4. DITCH LEAD FORMS; EMBRACE MESSENGER
If your BDC or sales team isn’t already plugged into Facebook/Instagram Messenger, now is the time. The end goal for Facebook is to own all interactions, so our advice is roll with it. Find a good technology partner, define some processes, and get your people used to talking with Facebook consumers.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have BDC agents sitting on your Facebook page answering chats. There are a ton of great tools that will let you manage these chats in one place.
5. ADJUST BUDGETS TO PRIORITIZE FACEBOOK
We’re not here to say that Facebook is going to become the predominant digital platform to reach automotive buyers, but we’re also not not saying that. Facebook is going to be a good, long-term bet when it comes to investing in ads, integrations and business development. So that’s it, right?
Not entirely. We haven’t even touched on the impacts of iOS 14 and Google’s impending decision on cookies. The biggest elephant in the room you need to start working on with your partners is audience targeting. The changes to pixel tracking with iOS 14 and cookie tracking from Google are going to make it more difficult to track and retarget buyers from your website. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible — you just need to think creatively about using the data you have and the data Facebook offers you.