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Facebook will become even more central for automotive marketing in 2017.
Only 10% of auto dealers are currently using Facebook ads, and even fewer dealers use them well. This number seems surprisingly low to our team, because we know how powerful Facebook ads can be for a dealership.
Users are spending an average of 50 minutes a day on Facebook apps (including Instagram and Messenger). There has never been more potential for auto dealers to gain real, measurable results from Facebook ads.
Two Themes You'll See in Automotive Facebook Marketing in 2017:
- Detailed targeting: Even more nuanced audiences will be built in the new year.
- Better content: New ad types and tier-three video will explode in 2017.
Dealerships that embrace well-rounded Facebook advertising techniques today will be better off than their peers in 2017. Let's dive in!
Detailed Targeting: Better Audiences for Auto Marketing in 2017
Every year, segments of car buyers seem to grow farther and farther apart from each other. The impressive increase in mobile device usage, the decline of showroom visits, and the growth of product research on social media continue to keep marketers on their toes.
Finding and inbounding the right audience has never been more important for a dealership's brand.
Earlier in 2016, we showed you how to build Facebook custom audiences for auto dealers. It's a technique that involves more strategy and tact than a run-of-the-mill Facebook campaign. Custom audiences are a great fit for a multi-stage marketing funnel.
In 2017, we expect to see dealerships deploying all three types of custom audiences in addition to the Polk/DataLogix automotive targeting options that are already baked into Power Editor:
- CRM spreadsheets
- Behavioral targeting
- Lookalike audiences
1. CRM Spreadsheets
This is the most reliable way to get in touch with exactly the right people from your CRM on Facebook. By exporting a spreadsheet of contact info from your CRM (including email addresses), Facebook can find those people on Facebook and serve them your ad.
For example, you can upload a spreadsheet of service customers who haven't been back in a few months and offer them your oil change special. Or, you could promote your free trade evaluation program to anyone with high-value vehicles to boost your used inventory.
2. Behavioral Targeting
In 2016, we've seen traditional banner retargeting services such as AdRoll come to a plateau, but Facebook offers an even more nuanced way to connect with people who view certain pages on your website.
Take, for instance, all the people who come to your site and look at new SUVs. With the Facebook Pixel properly installed on your website, you can retarget this group of people with your SUV offer or blog post about those specific SUV models.
Behavioral targeting will become the norm, allowing dealerships to become more relevant and more detailed with their automotive marketing in 2017.
3. Lookalike Audiences
Although the jury is still out on the accuracy of Facebook's lookalike algorithm, we expect to see people embracing this feature in new ways for automotive marketing in 2017.
Our team has tried — and failed — to build a lookalike audience of commercial vehicle prospects based on a CRM list of commercial vehicle customers. The problem is that Facebook won't tell us which signals it's using to find people who are like your uploaded list. In our experience with commercial vehicle ads, we learned that those signals don't always include industries or job titles.
The consolation, however, is that dealerships in 2017 will still use lookalike audiences to find demographics of people who would be interested in their inventory or services. Even though our team couldn't match commercial vehicle prospects, the same technique might be more effective for finding prospects for Ford Fiestas or family-sized SUVs.
Better Content: Videos, Offers, Events, Oh My!
In addition to better audiences in 2017, we also expect better ads. In 2016, we saw the rise of carousel ads for dealerships. In 2017, we expect videos to occupy many of those tiles.
But carousels aren't the only ride in this digital carnival. We're going to see these three types of ad content hit the fast lane in 2017:
- Offer ads
- Dealership videos
- Integrated lead ads
1. Facebook Offer Ads for Auto Dealers
Dealerships like Paragon Honda have already earned big ROI from offer ads on Facebook. Offer ads allow your audience to instantly “redeem” a limited amount of coupons for a certain special at your dealership.
While our team thinks offer ads are best suited for service promotions, we can also see them being used for group-specific incentives that might not be best suited for public website content, such as discounts for military and first responders.
2. Dealership Videos on Facebook
Video continues to rise in popularity on Facebook.
Earlier this year, 9 Clouds offered some great tips for repurposing your dealership's TV spots on digital platforms. A well-placed Facebook ad will be the perfect opportunity to show your message in 2017.
But recycling TV spots is just the tip of the Big Blue video iceberg. In 2017, we're going to see 360-degree videos, vehicle walk-around videos, test drive videos, and other immersion techniques — which have traditionally been the tactic of tier-one and tier-two organizations — trickle down to the tier-three dealership level.
If you're a marketing manager at a dealership, now is the perfect time to get that drone, GoPro, or 360-degree camera.
3. Integrated Lead Ads
In 2017, integrations such as the Facebook Pixel, canvas ads, carousel ads, and lead ads will continue to blur the line between Facebook and your dealership's website.
Building a great user experience isn't just a website thing anymore. Lead ads are the key to closing the attribution loop from online activity to actual sales.
In 2016, lead forms made the leap from webpages over to Facebook, and even though the learning curve is high, they're growing in popularity.
Although lead ads are relatively complicated compared to other types of Facebook ads, we'll see more dealerships taking advantage of this underutilized technique. Agincourt Mazda has already found success by collecting leads directly on Facebook. In fact, the store has sold four cars from one Facebook campaign — a 5x return on ad spend.
More Ways to Grow Facebook Ad ROI in 2017
It's one thing to build an amazing Facebook campaign, but it's another thing to improve it throughout a month, quarter, or year.
Because Facebook continues to grow in value for automotive marketing, we expect dealerships to embrace more long-term strategies with their Facebook campaigns in 2017.
For example, instead of launching campaigns month-to-month or even quarter-to-quarter, dealers could move to long-running campaigns that are more dynamic and focused.
The monthly SUV carousel ad of 2016 will become an automatically generated ad with a budget that increases and decreases along with OEM incentives, number of SUV leads, and traffic to SUV pages on your website. Additionally, this hypothetical SUV carousel will have videos in it, and it'll be shown to just the right people.
Dynamic, automated Facebook advertising sounds complicated, but it's really not too far away. Third-party tools like Smartly and Kenshoo will bring (even more) automation to Facebook advertising for dealerships in 2017.
Wherever your Facebook advertising strategy takes your dealership in 2017, 9 Clouds is happy to help. Contact us any time.
Looking for more insight on the marketing trends coming for auto dealers in 2017?
9 Clouds is making its predictions on December 8 at 11 a.m. CST. Join us for a look at the 5 automotive digital marketing trends coming up in the new year, and learn how to implement them into your marketing campaigns.