By Dane Saville, Brand & PR Manager, Reunion Marketing

Social media delivers content to buyers with unprecedented specificity. Nobody can overstate its power to connect with the right people in the right places. It’s why every major organization maintains a presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as spends hundreds of millions of dollars to put ads right into the news feeds of consumers. While automotive retail has embraced paid social media, it hasn’t quite reached its potential.

A dealer might run approximately three to five ads, then allow Facebook’s machine learning to adjust the bids as the campaigns run and it evaluates performance.

The ad might read something like this: Reunion Chevrolet has a vast inventory of the cars, trucks, and SUVs to choose from. Save BIG when you find your next dream car right here in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The image is of a vehicle or even perhaps the lot, showcasing the many vehicles the ad copy referenced. The headline is fairly generic and uninspiring like the ad copy, reading “A Chevrolet for You Today,” or just lists a randomly chosen piece of inventory with the price “2019 Chevrolet Cruze | $269/mo.”

On the backend, there’s likely some poor targeting that doesn’t go far beyond demographics, geography, and income.

Yes, there will be clicks. Are those clicks, however, leading to actual engagement or are they simply clicks — just a vanity metric that your agency partner or internal team has highlighted for you?

Your dealership’s social media deserves better for the investment that you’re making. And the formula is simple; in fact, you’ve seen it forming in the past few weeks as the 2020 election cycle heats up. Presidential political campaigns, since Barack Obama ran in 2008, have championed paid social media because of its ability to segment and target different audiences.

Take these facts, for example:

  • 2008: Obama spent 40 million and acquired 500 million in donations from digital media
  • 2012: Obama acquire 1.2 million donations from Facebook
  • 2012: Obama’s team created 26 different audiences
  • 2019: Trump has already spent 11 million on Facebook and Google
  • 2019: Trump’s campaign had 200 variations of an ad running

That’s right: 26 different audiences; 200 variations of an ad. And there’s no denying the success they’ve had in their respective election cycles.

Facebook allows people to target by age, gender, income, interests, life events, purchase history, pages they like, and much more — including even custom audiences. When you understand the depth of their targeting, you can partner with a data company like Oracle to have a robust understanding of the different types of buyers your dealership can reach.

With such exhaustive data, you can create 25-40 different ads that are conceived, crafted, and targeted with exactness.

  • Truck buyers.
  • Sedan buyers.
  • SUV buyers.
  • Buyers who want under $20,000.

If you’re a Buick GMC dealer, you can run ads about the Enclave, Encore, Envision, Acadia, Terrain, Yukon, as well as SUVs in general. Each can have their own headlines, ad copy, and images. You can tailor them by thinking about what value propositions (technology, safety equipment, space, et cetera) that drive the interest and decision-making for the vehicles  — think “26 audiences” and “200 variations.”

This customization reduces the ad fatigue that we, as advertisers, often subject consumers to. It also makes the content more relatable because it’s more tailored to them as individuals.

To put it back into the automotive retail perspective, you wouldn’t run a single SUV ad for your paid search campaigns, so why would you allow a single SUV ad for your paid social media? You will give audiences a greater variety of ads that have the potential to resonate with them, creating a higher likelihood that the ad will speak to them.

Results of a Social Media Campaign Powered by Audiences

An actual dealership ran a Facebook ad campaign powered by 26 different ads.

  • $0.30 cost-per-click
  • $8.86 cost-per-thousand-impressions
  • 92% clickthrough rate
  • 10%+ retargeting clickthrough rate

The industry average cost-per-click is $2.29 and clickthrough rate is 0.8%.

There’s more to the story. We asked if clicks are just clicks or are they leading to engagement. Remember that social media is reaching people — although highly targeted — who have not demonstrated that they are in-market and ready to buy right now. So how do we know that the clicks on a social media campaign aren’t just for the purposes of vanity and are leading to engagement?

We can take a look at a Cohort Analysis, which shows the percentage of people who have come back to and engaged again with your website to verify that you’ve hit the right customers and began moving them into the buying funnel.

Above is a Cohort Analysis for a dealership running a standard of 3 ads or fewer, but let’s clarify what this shows before diving into the details.

Each row represents a single week in time.

The Week 0 column represents clicks that happened. The Week 1 column represents the percentage of people who came back to the dealership’s website one week later. The Week 2 column represents the percentage of people who came back to the dealership’s website two weeks later. And so on.

Note that each row has its own numbers for each week, so let’s choose one: Row 3 (Jun 2, 2019 – Jun 8, 2019).

One week after the first click, 7.31% of people came back to the website. Two weeks after, it drops to 6.31%. It continues dropping until we hit the lowest point of 0.40% five weeks after the first click.

Remember the numbers in the first row: 6.18%, 3.57%, 2.40%, 1.97%, 1.15%. These represent the results of re-engagement for a standard Facebook campaign with just a few ads.

Now, here are the results of re-engagement for a Facebook campaign that mirrors the granularity of presidential politics.

So let’s compare these numbers to the standard Facebook campaign.

Now is the time for your dealership to task your internal team or agency partner to begin implementing a robust social media strategy that mirrors the granularity of presidential election-year campaigning.

About the Author

Dane Saville (Brand & PR Manager, Reunion Marketing) began his career as a high school English teacher before networking his way into a communications position with a Department of Defense contractor, so he began his career understanding how to break down complex concepts into digestible tidbits. When he left government, he began work for a 33-store automotive group in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a senior editor and later moved onto a global ad agency where he continued to refine his copywriting skills. That ultimately led him to reunite with old colleagues to form Reunion Marketing. Oh, and he was also a professional wrestler for over 15 years.

Author: Contributing Writer

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