If you’re a glutton for auto industry news like I am, I’m sure you’ve seen a volume of articles around “2017 auto sales plateaus,” “new vehicle slow downs,” and “auto cycles ending” over the last few months. And, as we move into the second half of the year, these talks of an industry slowdown continue.
Fortunately, not all dealerships are being impacted. But what are those dealers doing different? And how are they increasing sales year over year, even during this difficult time?
Simply put, there is no easy answer or one solution that will solve the issues faced by the auto industry today. That being said, there are products proving to move more vehicles — both new and used — depending on your dealership’s market.
After tracking and recording dealership results nationwide, I’ve pulled results from three dealerships, on three different platforms, and showcase how they’re successfully overcome this “downturn.”
Create More Conversations with Craigslist
Craigslist is ranked second only to Google in the U.S. for inbound traffic and brings in more than 60 million unique shoppers per month. And, like all Craigslist shoppers, vehicle shoppers searching the platform are often much lower down the sales funnel. They’re not window shopping and they’re not there to do research: Craigslist car shoppers are looking to make a purchase.
Country Hill Motors, an independent dealer in Kansas, was looking for a hands-free, easy platform that would help them move more pre-owned vehicles fast; Craigslist looked like it would fit the bill.
Prior to posting on Craigslist, the dealership was looking to achieve two goals:
- Quickly increase first-party pre-owned leads and low-funnel sales conversations
- Find a solution that would eliminate “guessing” and manually posting their inventory
Luckily, Craigslist autos easily does both for dealers. With the ability to seamlessly sync your inventory feed and update any vehicle changes — such as price, description or sold inventory — Craigslist was the perfect choice to help this dealership reach and exceed these goals.
In just 30 days, their success on Craigslist exceeded anything the dealership had ever anticipated. They drove 415 phone calls, 58 emails, 108 texts and a whopping 1,013 Vehicle Display Page (VDP) clicks.
“Since coming on board with Craigslist, I have actually decreased my marketing budget and increased my leads,” said Mark Dyer, general sales manager at Country Hill Motors.
It’s hard to believe that a dealership could drive so many leads while decreasing their budget, but as pre-owned vehicles rapidly become more popular, solutions solely focused on moving them are proving to pay off.
If your dealership hasn’t yet tried posting its inventory on Craigslist, it may be time to test the waters. On average, Craigslist customers purchase a vehicle 13 days sooner and at a 12 percent close rate. What other third-party sites out there can say the same?
Increase Web Sessions With Google PPC
AdWord campaigns are a quick and easy way for your dealership to get eyes on its inventory. And today, “if” your dealership should be doing PPC is hardly a discussion. But when examining your current PPC solution, there are a few things worth taking a closer look at, such as what’s actually included in your package, versus what should be included.
For starters, make sure your package include all of Google’s basic services:
● YouTube advertising (pre-roll)
● Gmail ads, search engine marketing (SEM)
● Display and retargeting
And make sure you are being provided with:
● Reporting with access to both analytics and AdWords
● Call tracking and recording with dynamic number insertion
● A custom, hands-on strategy
● Account management with full transparency
Asking your digital vendor(s) these questions will certainly shine light on what is — and what is not — provided to your dealership.
When University Volkswagen, a franchise dealership located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, realized that their existing PPC advertising solution was failing to isolate true cost per acquisition data within their campaigns, they knew a change was needed.
What the dealership thought they were being provided and what they were actually being provided were two very different things — leading the dealership to seek out an alternate solution.
Looking to improve their online presence, University Volkswagen focused on two goals:
1. Create a dealer-focused PPC campaign so they could dominate search queries from local buyers
2. Define an accurate cost per acquisition for the dealership so their management team could understand exactly what it costs each time the phone rings.
To reach these goals, the dealership worked with a new provider to implement a two-step approach:
1. Lead Tracking and Transparency
- Track and isolate all leads attributed to Google Advertising
- Set up phone call tracking and form lead tracking and link both directly to Google Analytics and Google AdWords
- Obtain access to all AdWords and call tracking data inside Analytics so they could accurately measure ROI.
2. Targeted Display Campaigns
- Design custom display banners to promote both their brand and model line inventory across the Google Display Network
- Deliver these ads specifically to customers deciding between local competing dealerships and retargeted visitors to their Website
- Utilize search companion advertising to show banner ads to internet users based on the intent of their search queries, not just their interests or demographics.
Two months after implementation, University Volkswagen’s new strategy achieved them a 352.75 percent increase in sessions, a 78.05 percent reduction in cost per click, a 31 percent increase in goals/leads, and drove 5,488 more model line clicks, up from zero.
Their results were staggering, proving that having a dialed in PPC strategy will give you a significant advantage over the competition. If your dealership knows what’s included and all the pieces are cohesively working together, it will be that much more unbeatable online.
Reach Thousands of In-Market Auto Shoppers with Facebook
Most dealers advertising on Facebook know about the In-Market Shopper data from POLK and Datalogix — but did you know your options don’t have to stop there?
Now, thanks to the social media giant, there’s more consumer data at the individual level than ever before — and your dealership needs to be taking advantage of it. Using this data, in combination with the already popular automotive data, is what makes dealer ads super competitive on Facebook.
Valley Buick GMC, a franchise dealer located in Auburn, Washington, has seen first hand how powerful combining these data sets can be.
When Sales Manager Bryant Claudon partnered up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for their “Test Drive For A Cure” event, he knew he needed to find a unique strategy to get the message out to his local community, and in front of people who care.
After weighing his options, Facebook was the clear choice. His team, working with a marketing agency, created a campaign showcasing their event to in-market auto shoppers and:
● People who donated or expressed interest in cancer causes and organizations
● Breast cancer organization employees
● Charities for cancer causes and health-related issues
This strategic focus on people interested in the cause made a huge difference — and it made their ads relevant. In just 29 days, the dealership reached 22,389 in-market auto shoppers and drove 1,285 clicks to their Website.
“We teamed up with the Susan G. Koman Foundation for a breast cancer awareness event. We did one Facebook campaign, and it was awesome to see how much activity it received,” Claudon said. “Those were probably the best results I’ve seen!”
Dealers are finally seeing the importance of pulling in an emotional connection. Nowadays, ads are everywhere. In order to get noticed, your dealership needs to have a tried-and-true strategy backed by data and the ability to create lasting relationships with your customers for years to come.
So, make sure you or your Facebook advertising vendor are going beyond basic targeting and paying close attention to the small details — they’re what counts in today’s fast paced newsfeed!
There you have it — how three dealerships used three vastly different solutions to overcome what appears to be an industry decline.