9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog
Where automotive meets digital marketing.
Facebook is the town square of the Internet. That is to say, it's the town square of the world.
Still, we get a lot of questions about whether Facebook is the best place to spend your marketing dollars — and, even more frequently, questions about whether Facebook ads really help sell cars.
Enter Facebook Offline Events: an offline conversion tool that allows advertisers to see how many customers made a purchase after seeing a Facebook ad.
What Are Facebook Offline Events?
The Facebook Pixel significantly changed how marketers track web traffic and conversions, but that still didn’t help auto dealers determine if their Facebook advertising actually resulted in more leads or sales. If you run an ad on Facebook, and then a customer comes to your store to purchase a vehicle, how do you prove that return on investment (ROI)?
Offline Events remove a lot of that second-guessing.
Offline Events (or offline conversions) allow you to track when transactions occur at your store and other offline channels after people see or engage with your Facebook ads.
How does it work? You simply upload a file from your customer relationship management (CRM) software, so Facebook can match as many of those contacts as possible to Facebook users who were shown your ad. Seeing this connection helps you create a fuller picture of your conversions.
How Do I Set Up Offline Event Tracking?
Setting up offline event tracking on Facebook is easy, but there are a lot of moving parts. Here are the four main steps.
1. Create an Offline Event Set
To set up Facebook Offline Events for your dealership, start by creating an offline event set.
Go to Events Manager, and select the right business. Then, click Add Data Source > Offline Event Set, name your offline event set, type in a description, and hit Create.
Next, choose the ad accounts to which you want to assign your event set. Choose carefully, as all campaigns in those accounts will be associated with your offline event set (and the offline event data you will upload) from this date forward.
Then, select people within your business and/or partners for whom to grant permissions, and click Next.
2. Upload Your CRM List
To upload a list of leads or customers and see how your campaigns fared with them, you'll need to export the proper information about those contacts.
The identifiers you pull from your CRM to distinguish offline events are the same you would use to create a custom audience. You don’t need to include all of the identifiers, but the more data you provide, the better your chances of matching.
There are two types of contact properties your upload will need: event details and customer details.
- Event Time: The time the event occurred, such as the lead origination date for leads or the sold date for customers. These require timestamps, so you'll need to add those (even just a standard 0:00:00) if your CRM didn't include it.
- Event Name: What type of event this is (Complete Registration, Lead, Purchase, View Content, etc.)
- Value: What this offline event was worth to you
- Currency: USD for U.S. dollars; CDA for Canadian dollars
- Email Address: Up to three
- Phone Number: Up to three; include country code
- First Name
- Last Name
- Zip/Postal Code
- Date of Birth
- Year of Birth
- Mobile Advertiser ID
- Facebook App User ID
- Facebook Page User ID
The best way to learn how to format your data for Offline Events is to download Facebook's example Offline Events CSV and use it as a template. Get your info in the correct formats, export a new CSV, and you're ready to upload.
3. Map the Data to Match Facebook
Next, you'll map the data. Double-check to make sure Facebook has correctly paired all the columns, as the tool is prone to making mistakes (like using postal codes as phone numbers) if the columns aren't perfectly named and in the order on the example sheet.
Once everything matches, you'll go to a review screen, where Facebook will offer warnings and recommendations on improving your data process and success in measuring your campaigns. Warnings in red signify a significant problem that may mean your upload won't succeed. Most other warnings you can note for future but still upload.
Facebook will also note your estimated match rate here (if the volume of contacts was high enough). We aim for north of 80% match rates, but this all depends on the quality of your CRM data and the volume of events you upload. In the example below, 27 sold customers wasn't enough to get an estimated match rate.
Also, note that your events should be uploaded within 90 days. We advocate that auto dealers upload at least once a month, though every two weeks will be more accurate.
It's also vital that you don't upload the same contact more than once. Make sure you pull data from date ranges that don't overlap, as Facebook doesn't de-duplicate contacts imported more than once in separate uploads. Facebook says it will de-duplicate contacts listed more than once in the same upload.
4. Measure Your Facebook Success
Once you start using Offline Events, you’ll want to start reporting the results. You’ll find these results in the customized columns in your Business Manager. Under the Offline column, you can see the actions, cost per actions, and value of the actions.
Using Offline Events is an involved process, but there's so much they can teach you about how your Facebook campaigns are performing!
Always keep in mind, though, that Offline Events aren't a perfect measure. This is a conservative look at how many of your leads or customers saw Facebook campaigns. The success of Offline Events relies on their match rate to Facebook profiles, their having converted in the allowable span of time for upload, and a myriad of other factors — so your real number of offline conversions could be much higher. That said, Offline Events are certainly a useful barometer.
You can view offline conversions within Ads Manager to see how active campaigns or past campaigns have done. Different views can show you specifically offline conversion data, like the screenshot below.
While it's an older example, we like this one for how it shows the clear next steps.
If this were your account, for example, you might decide that spending nearly $1,000 on a Messenger campaign that got you only five offline purchases isn't as worthwhile as the June 2017 Brand Promises campaign, which got you nine offline purchases for half the ad spend. You could then use that insight to adjust your budgets going forward.
How Will Offline Event Tracking Benefit My Dealership?
Our agency hasn't been shy about how much we love Facebook advertising for auto dealers.
Out of an average 24 touchpoints on the road to an automotive purchase, 19 are digital. We've seen the power Facebook holds on that journey.
Offline event tracking allows automotive marketers to connect the dots between those online touchpoints and the final five. You can capture how Facebook ads create real-life results, making it easier than ever to strategize your online campaigns — and improve sales!
Improve Your Entire Facebook Ad Strategy
Offline event tracking is just one of the new tools digital marketers will be using in the next year. Learn to leverage the best Facebook has to offer with Season One of 9 Clouds Live: Facebook Ads for Auto Dealers, where we break down all the need-to-know information about the social network.
If you don't have the time to upload your Facebook Offline Events or even run your campaigns, consider reaching out to learn more about 9 Clouds service offerings. But remember — Facebook ads are just one important piece of the entire digital marketing puzzle!