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Dealer Marketing: Embracing the Future Facebook Ecosystem of Today

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The title may have seemed confusing. If we’re going to take a dive into a future ecosystem, how can it also be available today ? The answer is simple: adoption rate. The capabilities outlined in this article are available right now; however, many dealers are not embracing them and continue to advertise on Facebook as they always have. You have an opportunity to do today what all of your competitors will — or at least should — be doing in the future. Here’s what we’ve been so accustomed to do … Create a carousel ad. Send the consumer to the website. Retarget those who don’t engage. The second step is problematic. It’s important that we break the cycle of thinking that all traffic must go to the website. With a 3-5% opt-in rate of Apple users deciding to share their data with Facebook and its applications and losing 85% of website-based conversion data because of this and other privacy constraints, continuing to advertise on Facebook as we always have is already outdated thinking.  Facebook has products that allow advertisers to embrace a completely native ecosystem.  Here’s a question: If a consumer is choosing to be on Facebook, why would we remove them from that place of comfort and take them to a website? Here’s a second question: Isn’t our role as advertisers to meet where consumers want to engage with us and offer a seamless experience?  So here’s how we do that. A Breakdown of the On-Facebook Ecosystem Branding — Top-of-the-Funnel Let’s first caveat this part of the ecosystem. Branding lives outside of the 30-day cycle, and you don’t want to hold these ads accountable to metrics beyond reach, impressions, and frequency. While these will create clicks and drive traffic to your online properties — mostly your website — these ads are intended to keep your dealership top-of-mind as consumers who aren’t quite in-market spend their time on the Facebook platform and its network partners. Your branding ads should communicate your differentiators, value propositions, and culture. They should also communicate facets of your business that are evergreen, such as your ability to purchase consumer cars or the loyalty programs and free estimates that your fixed operations may offer. Such as with Douglas Volkswagen, who’s inviting local potential shoppers to come experience the “Douglas Difference,” which has been nurtured for nearly 70 years. Or you may want the local community to know that you’ll buy their vehicle — whether or not they bought one from your dealership. Regardless of the ad’s message, you want to make sure that the page they land on when they click the call-to-action — in these cases, “Learn More” — is directly aligned with the content of the advertisement.  AIAs and Service Ads — Middle-of-the-Funnel As you continually hold a presence with branding ads, you’ll want to capture those local shoppers who are in-market.  Side Note — We recommend that you don’t rely solely on Facebook targeting as you can add layers of depth and precision to this with a partner like IHS/Polk, who can provide an accurate number of households based on parameters you set — and this data isn’t affected by privacy updates or website data-loss as it’s based on actual sales and credit reporting data, not on online signals like pixels. The ability to create hyper-local, highly targeted audiences will make creating ad sets and ad copy easier as you’ll have a clear understanding to whom you’re delivering those ads. Automotive Inventory Ads (AIAs) are a carousel of vehicles that are relevant to the targeted audience, except these offer advertisers the capability to keep consumers on Facebook for a streamlined experience. The carousel ad gets delivered to the audience to browse the relevant vehicles that are available for purchase at your dealership. When they click a vehicle that interests them, a VDP-like page near instantaneously appears. It has all of the information that your traditional VDP contains, it has deep links to your dealership’s website and onsite VDP for dealers who need a little comfort in making this transition — and most importantly, it has different actions to actually capture a lead, including click-to-call, directions request, and chat. This method keeps consumers within the Facebook ecosystem, so we don’t lose any conversion data. Facebook collects the information on how consumers are behaving, what different attributes and facets of the VDP are most effective, and other pieces that can better inform them and us on what works. The more data that we can feed Facebook, the more accurately they can update this content and assist us as advertisers to make more strategic decisions. Here are the results when we looked at all campaigns that took consumers to the dealership website (non-AIA) compared to campaigns that kept consumers on Facebook (AIA). Significantly more content viewed, significantly lower costs, and significantly more actual leads from Facebook — people chatting, calling, and requesting directions from the on-Facebook VDPs.  I wrote that this is also applicable to service. It’s true: we currently use IHS/Polk ownership data to layer onto native Facebook targeting to create a more accurate picture of the audiences to whom our ads will be the most relevant, breaking these ads out into the big four — brakes, batteries, tires, oil changes — and general service ads. At this moment, we do not have the mechanisms in place to keep consumers on Facebook and embrace the new ecosystem; however, our Social Media Director wanted to be deliberate in getting the sales portion fine-tuned before diving into fixed operations. What I can say at this moment is that there are more sophisticated schedulers that can integrate with your dealership’s internal systems to create the same experience in service as we have in sales. Now not every customer in-market or near-market will become an immediate lead. Just like as with website visitors in the past, the consumers who click on one of your ads will be placed into a retargeting pool. This is where our strategic approach to the Facebook ecosystem has evolved the most. Retargeting Lead Generation Ads — Bottom-of-the-Funnel This is where I may lose you because you’ve done lead generation ads before on Facebook. I’m going to challenge that pushback. The approach is where we, as advertisers, went wrong in leveraging lead generation objectives on Facebook. We cast a wide net and hit people with ads who had potentially never engaged with any of our content — and we expected them to simply opt in to sharing their information. That’s unproductive. It yields spammy leads. It wastes your time and your budget. It was a shiny “instant lead retrieval” object that had foregone deliberate strategy.  The correct philosophy is to understand that consumers who have demonstrated intent and interest in our inventory and services — with our middle-of-funnel ads — are more likely to see a lead generation ad as relevant to their interests and, thus, is much more likely to be a qualified lead.  So using lead generation as your measured and deliberate retargeting campaign will work in your favor because the element of intent or interest is at play. They’ve clicked through one of your middle-of-funnel ads and browsed the VDP but didn’t contact the dealership via Messenger within the last 30 days.   That, however, isn’t the only parameter (intent/interest) that makes an effective lead generation retargeting campaign. It’s also important to still task the consumer to take an action without putting an undue burden on them. We want to pose a question that gauges the urgency of their purchase intent. So when the consumer has engaged the lead generation ad, their name and email is automatically populated — but to ensure that a click isn’t merely accidental, the consumer has to actively select an option from a dropdown menu.  When they have done that and done any necessary changes to email, name, or even add their phone number, they are opted into terms and conditions that they have to accept, and then are given a notification that they will be contacted — that information all gets routed to your CRM so that you can track it from form submission to the sale of the vehicle. Our team uses LeadsBridge for this capability. So you’ve ensured that the consumer has chosen to engage with the lead generation ad and has taken actual actions to share their information, which demonstrates several layers of intent.  It’s all a matter of keeping things simple and structured. When our team put this into a beta test, it generated an average of 83 qualified leads per month at a cost of around $8 per lead .  The On-Facebook Ecosystem Facebook has adapted in the face of privacy constraints and the eventual deprecation of the third-party cookie. It’s important that we embrace the future Facebook ecosystem of today because this is the environment in which we will all compete. By understanding how consumers want to engage with us, as well as the fact that platforms like Facebook and Google are creating ecosystems that keep consumers within their own properties, we will be better equipped to produce content that better resonates with them. If you have any further questions regarding this evolution or the different tactics presented in this article, please feel free to reach out to me, Dane Saville, at dane@reunionmarketing.com.
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How To Create More Efficiency In Your Advertising Strategy

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While a showroom may be full of shoppers and potential leads, dealers shouldn’t cast their advertising to the side. The market for consumers is ever evolving in not only issues but in competition. It is pertinent for dealers to grasp as well as implement several key advertising strategies to continue a successful business. Whether it's shifting advertising spending to help with inventory instead of customer acquisition or figuring out what merchandise is no longer in demand, these advertising strategies are affected heavily by the financial practices of a company. Dealers need to be conscious of their spending if they wish to successfully implement advertising strategies, especially as digital advertising prices continue to increase. How To Combat Price Volatility    Advertisements are one of the most effective ways to reach consumers in the current trend of high media exposure. The demand is high and the cost of ads across retail-focused channels is expensive. Recent evidence supports these claims as reports show a spending increase of 60% on paid search, 41% on paid social channels, 34% on the average cost-per-click (CPC), and 41% on CPM prices for paid social.  Such inflation, measured from last year to the second quarter of 2021, has happened over a short period. Often unaware of such statistics, dealers continue to obliviously spend the routine amount on advertising instead of efficiently eliminating wasteful spending.  More commonplace than expected hundreds if not thousands of dealers across the country deal with the lack of knowledge and the unsuspecting trap of advertisement cost. Reducing Wasteful Media Expenditures    To be a profitable dealership, it is key to reduce advertising waste. Currently, it is estimated that around $13.4 billion on digital advertising will be spent by the automotive industry. Out of approximately 13.4 billion, 40% of digital advertising will be ineffective due to the wrong strategy, bad data, or both. The solution is to leverage advanced advertising data and marketing technology from leading providers such as PureCars. Dealers can take full advantage by distinguishing the best vehicle to aggressively market, the best target audience to cater toward and the best media channels to reach that target audience. With tactics such as these, dealers can focus on the goal of optimizing the lowest cost per sale and RO, instead of vanity metrics such as cost per click and impression volume. Similar to true e-commerce retailers, dealers can market with attention to target cost per sale as well as available inventory. If there is inventory available and the cost per sale targets are accurate, marketing budgets are unlimited! Overall, dealers are at an advantage if they can successfully create a predictable cost per sale, demand, conversion path and inventory to sell! Making The Right Marketing Decisions     Dealers can leverage advanced data and marketing technology to help them make the most suitable marketing decisions when it comes to selling or servicing new and used cars. Moreover, it can be used to properly identify and acquire properly used vehicle opportunities. In either case, however the technology is used, dealers have the resource to maximize profits. Dealers can also utilize this technology to determine if a new vehicle in inventory needs more or less marketing attention as well as the most appropriate media mix models. The proper identification or adjustment of something as simple as a media mix can open a dealer up to millions of dollars in efficiency and profitability. Now, more progressive dealers are thinking creatively of new ways to source used cars at a premium in auctions or by buying directly from consumers in their vicinity. Both approaches have become an attractive way to build customer relationships and outpace competitors’ vehicle acquisition in a sustainable way. Leveraging Data for Better Payments & Offers Dealers, along with their lender and manufacturer partners all need to be seamlessly tied together in a comprehensive system necessary to build, offer and transact. They’re now leveraging solutions from companies like Market Scan that mines, analyzes, and manages the billions of combinations and iterations of all lender and manufacturer programs available in the marketplace and finds truly superior, scientifically perfect solutions for all stakeholders: consumers, dealers, lenders, and manufacturers.  Furthermore, today’s best and most comprehensive solutions enhance the consumer experience and the showroom process by electronically presenting all payment and purchase options to customers with full compliance and transparency – on any computer, tablet, or mobile device – at any/all points along the consumer’s shopping journey. As a result, the process can dramatically shorten transaction times, raise dealership efficiencies and margins, and elevate customer satisfaction as a result of a more streamlined process. The market for consumers will always evolve. To stay current, successful dealers are leveraging a more scientific approach with the help of marking technologies to better align their strategies to retailers who have mastered digital advertising and payment solutions. 
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No Inventory? No Problem. Marketing Tips From the Field for Your Dealership’s Success

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The automotive industry is consumed with the inventory shortage-- while gross is higher than ever, dealerships are finding it hard to strategize marketing without the usual suspects on the lot. That being said, it’s still critical that your dealership maintain a hefty strategy so that you don’t lose your brand recognition; this could lead to giving your competitors a potential customer for life that could have been yours.  Below is a roundup of the latest tips from the field to make sure your dealership is staying at the cutting edge: Brand Campaigns While inventory may be low, you can still maintain a good reputation for your dealership. Shoppers looking for their next vehicle don’t only prioritize the make/model they’re interested in, but also the shopping experience- starting online. If your dealership brand can provide a superb experience-- answering promptly and locking in the customer before they look elsewhere-- your marketing will see high ROI during this tumultuous time.  Make sure your brand campaigns are also answering current events. During COVID, this was all about hygiene and sanitization. Now, focus on how you have the right process for getting the vehicle of their dreams to each and every customer with the best customer service. Advertise Pre-order Options Your dealership is not the only dealership with low inventory, so marketing inventory which is not released or in stock will keep your dealership competitive and give you the chance to lock in customers for life that may look elsewhere if they don’t have this option with your store.  Dealerships that advertise future inventory support brand goals, engage and conquest new shoppers, as well as continue to see high quality conversion rates on their websites.  Finetune Your SEO   SEO is an efficient way to keep your dealership on the map without spending too much money. Find the high-search keywords in your market and include them in your vehicle descriptions, promotions, and blog posts. If your dealership doesn’t have a blog, now is the time to invest in one -- especially if you’ve cut back on other marketing resources. Blog posts are excellent resources for shoppers (the more descriptive, the better). Pro tip: take a high-volume search term and use that as the basis of your blog post. This way you won’t only be answering questions that people are actually searching, but you’ll probably have priority for showing up first on Google.  Work the Service Drive   We all know the importance of the F&I profit center. But while people are sticking to leases longer, or can’t yet find the car of their dreams with inventory shortages, service is more important than ever. Make sure your dealership is advertising all service options in descriptive ad campaigns. Double-check that you’ve properly set up your service center on Google my Business so you can be easily found, and separately for those interested in service rather than sales. Lastly, set up an easy-to-use service booking calendar on your website so it’s a seamless experience for shoppers.  Trade In/Trade Up Scoring inventory is gold right now, so make sure you’ve perfected your trade in campaigns. Make sure shoppers know they can trade in their cars without buying new ones. Shoppers are also interested in comparing trade in prices, so your dealership should have a seamless infrastructure for providing trade in values, at the most competitive prices. If you haven’t already, you can also train your service staff to focus on trade in upsells right from the service lane.  We already know that pausing marketing right now can hurt your dealership brand and ROI. With these expert tips, your dealership can now focus the marketing strategy to fit today’s climate and continue to bring in new customers for life.  *Isaac Hertzberg from Napleton Cadillac and Kyle Mountsier from Nelson Mazda were interviewed to help with this article
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3 Pieces of Content Your Car Dealership Needs Today

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Let me ask you this: What content is your dealership creating every day? More often than not when I ask that question I get pulled into conversations about which social media platform is best, which distribution method dealerships should be using to spread the word about themselves, or even whether video, photos, or written content does a better job stopping the scroll. What happens much less often is that I get to have a conversation about the message. What’s the story they want to tell? Facebook & TikTok. Email & YouTube. Radio & TV. Blog posts & matchbook covers.  Nothing wrong with any of them. Use ‘em all, but they’re all just tools to get your message on the inside of your customers’ heads. How the message gets there isn’t anywhere near as important as what that message is. The message is what matters. If you want to create better, more engaging, conversation-starting content, you have to tell a better story. Telling a better story starts with deciding what story you want to tell, then creating more content that spreads that message regardless of format or delivery platform.  A great story can be told in many ways, in many formats, on many platforms. A great story transcends. Community The greatest stories that your dealership can tell,  The stories that will resonate best with your target market , The stories that will bring you the most likes, clicks, shares, smiley face emojis, actual real live conversations with real live people, and yes, more sales, In those stories, you’re not the hero; you’re the sidekick. You’re not Batman; you’re Robin. Look for opportunities to create content that shines a light on other people in your community. “Look for your people, and lift them up,” says business strategist Sherman Mohr. For years, I’ve been encouraging salespeople and managers to attend Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie training to improve their communication skills. In How To Win Friends and Influence People, Carnegie says we can make it easy for other people to like us when we go out of our way to make them feel important. Create more content that does that! Full profiles of your employees , not just the sales department. Spotlights about your customers’ businesses.   Features about local sports teams from sandlot baseball to the major leagues.  Active participation in community events. The next time someone comes in asking you to donate $500 to some local charitable, civic, or sports organization, don’t just write the check. Show up and help. Use your dealership’s digital footprint to help them spread the word. Get your team out in the community belly-to-belly with the people and then Tell That Story. Use Video and pictures to put more faces on Facebook.  Write a blog post for your website to boost your SEO.  Share it on your Google My Business page.   In his book Marketing Revolution , Mark Schaeffer says that in today’s media-saturated market with today’s media-savvy consumers, the businesses that present the most human messages and stories will be the businesses that thrive. Be more human. Commerce Rule #1 is “It Ain’t About You!” It’s about them, and specifically, it’s about how you can help them. The single greatest thing about the car business is that almost every single human being you’ve ever met has, wants, or needs a car. They’ve got 99 problems and their car is definitely one! Create content that tells the story of how you can help solve their car problems. The best way to do that is to show how you’ve solved other people’s car problems. Post Videos of happy customers saying how you went out of your way to find them the perfect car. Post photographs from the service department showing your new Express and after-hours lanes. And get more written reviews from customers, sales customers, service customers, stopped-by-on-my-way-home-to-get-a-free-ice-cream-cone customers. Customer reviews are the gold medal, brass ring, heavyweight champion of the content marketing world. You can tell your story all day long, but when your customers start singing the same song that’s when a story becomes a brand. Ask And You Get; Don’t and You Won’t. It’s the first thing they tell you in Sales 101; you have to ask for the order. Your dealership is in business to generate business. Create revenue. Nothing says commitment like money changing hands. If you’re not even asking for the money, less of it is going to change hands. In the official social media official playbook Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook! , Gary Vaynerchuk likens your social media calendar is like a prizefight with friendly, entertaining, community based or other ostensibly non-commercial content serving as the left jabs that lower defenses and leave an opening for the knock out punch. Asking for the order. Making it easy for them to take action. Making them an offer they can’t refuse. Promising them a car buying experience they’ll never forget. Everybody loves a deal. Create more content that gives them a deal. Then look them dead in the eye and ask for the order - call, click or come on down.
Dealer Marketing: Going Loco for Local Campaigns

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There's a good reason that car dealers should be going mad over local campaigns: the results. Now, let's get something straight first. There are so many variables that influence digital marketing -- your local market conditions, budget, tactics, creativity -- that no dealership will see the same numbers.  You can, however, expect to fall within a range set by our dealer partners whose strategy we have adequately executed and monitored: $4 - $6 Cost per Lead $0.50 - $1.50 Cost per Click 10,000 - 30,000 Interactions These dealerships also met a recommended monthly budget of no less than $300 and up to $1,000. If cost-efficiencies that deliver high-quality leads is your jam, let's define local campaigns to give you a better perspective on the  what  and  where . What are local campaigns? They are part of Google's continual innovation on advertising products and are tied to your dealership's Google My Business (GMB) listings. As more search results don't yield a click to a website property, it's more important than ever to have a robust strategy around local search engine optimization. Local ads leverage your GMB to deliver targeted ads in brand new placements. Local campaigns use the Merchant Center for inventory feed integration and Google's machine learning to populate highly relevant, hyper-local advertisements that are more likely to resonate with consumers and generate foot traffic and local actions or phone calls. Google is, in fact, so confident in the results local campaigns can produce that these ads are highlighted in the Dealer Guidebook 2.5 edition. Launching this type of campaign is relatively easy, tasking you to fulfill just a few requisites: Verified GMB Linked to Google Ads Minimum of 1 YouTube Video Link Images (1200x1200 & 1200x628) Where are local campaigns new placements? Local campaigns are delivered across all of Google's properties, including the Display Network and YouTube. These are now the most interesting placements, though.  You linked your GMB listing to your Google Ads account so your dealership's ads can also be placed on ...  Google Maps , where shoppers can identify the quickest route to the dealership thanks to the ad highlighting your location as the top destination. GMB Listing Profile , where shoppers can see the latest offers and promotions (for variable and fixed operations). Google Search Network , where shoppers will see the advertisement at the top of the local search pack. New placements bring new methods of optimization. These local campaigns aren't optimized by using historical search network mechanics, such as analyzing query and keyword data. Instead, advertisers will be tasked with analyzing and iterating on the actual content of the ad. Dealers Will Win on the Local Level If you haven't embraced the power of Google My Business, which is the crux of your local search strategy, you're likely to miss out on other opportunities that arise -- like local campaigns. The notion of "going local" isn't exactly new; it's just now getting the proper attention that it deserves. In a digital ecosystem where your real competition is third-party and aftermarketing websites, building localized content and ads have become the backbone of maintaining and growing your market share. There's no better place to start than your own backyard, for which local campaigns have been specifically built.  Start winning, my friends.
Now Is Not the Time to Pause Marketing Spend

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Reject every instinct in your body that's telling you otherwise. Now is not the time to pause your marketing spend. Yes, we're in a totally new normal and chaotic time in history. COVID-19 is changing the way we shop for groceries, plan weddings, and sell.  But as we assess the investments we're making and cut back to play it safe, stopping marketing efforts all together will put your dealership at a disadvantage.  Here's why: Stay Relevant Q2 2020 put all dealerships to the test: which ones will still sell during an unprecedented government-mandated lockdown and the first wave of the Coronavirus? And as we witnessed, the dealerships that were able to stay above water were the ones that had the marketing machine in place to do so-- the dealers that were set up for digital success to change, update, and optimize messaging across all platforms way before the COVID-19 wake up call.  So ask yourself, how long did it take your dealership to offer home deliveries, solo test drives, and extra hygiene at the showroom? If you answered more than one minute, you're simply not as relevant as dealers that were able to deploy marketing messaging instantly.  "You, as a company, either have world-class digital capabilities or you are falling behind."  says  Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation. And it's never been more true. This is the time for your dealership to stay on the map. It's time for your dealership to show up first to the in-market shopper who is stuck at home with a glass of wine and the power of Google. If you want to stay relevant, you need to continue your marketing efforts, even if you have to reduce or move around the budget in response to the market.  Stay Ahead  But it's not just about what happened and how we responded-- it's about staying ahead of the curve. Pausing your marketing ads and campaigns means losing your audience tracking, falling behind on brand recognition and targeting, and not having the means to bounce back with new messaging as the ever-changing market surprises us once again. Even if your budget is cut to a minimum, keeping your marketing afloat means that your dealership can be more flexible with its messaging to react faster to opportunities. It gives your dealership the ability to accumulate audiences for retargeting and enables you to capture the low hanging fruit that you can "afford" with a lean budget. The moment you pause your marketing spend altogether, you're not only irrelevant as shoppers search and find your competition instead, but you'll be slower to come back once you're ready to turn up the heat.  Turn Gaps in the Market Into Opportunities  Lastly, there is always opportunity in a downturn. If we've learned anything from iconic brands like Airbnb and Netflix, who crushed it during a downturn, it's to leverage gaps in the market as an opportunity for revenue. People still need cars. In fact, private transportation seems to be a hot commodity as a result of the pandemic. Public transportation is "risky," unsanitary, and poses the threat of exposure. It's clear that the automotive industry rebound is stemming from strong emerging markets:  millennials, one-car suburban families, and commuters .  People are still searching, debatably now more than ever. As consumers stayed inside month after month, the  shift to online  buying behavior was catapulted into reality. Social media consumption increased from 20.8% of total app usage (Jan 1) to 24.1% (Apr 12). Combined with a 21% increase in total global usage, social media advertising had become overall more cost-efficient for dealerships. Your dealership needs to capitalize on this opportunity- leverage marketing to target these buyers with the right message at the right time. If you stop your marketing spend, you will not reach these shoppers that are in the market for the very same reason you're thinking of pausing spend.  So while your gut instinct may be to pause spend through 2020, I'd argue that it's actually time to re-evaluate and make sure your spend, while perhaps lean, is accomplishing everything you need to stay ahead and relevant coming out of COVID-19. Because when you're already prepped for any outcome, you win.