Today is the golden age of Facebook marketing. Depending on how long your dealership has been active in digital marketing, you might remember the days of nickel clicks in Google. Unfortunately, those days are way behind us. In its place, Facebook has emerged as a powerful tool for dealerships looking to sell more cars.

Here’s what you need to know in order to dominate in Facebook:

 Know What You’re Trying To Accomplish

Before you start advertising in Facebook, it’s imperative to know what your goals are and which of Facebook’s objectives are most likely to help you achieve those goals. Are you looking to generate leads? Are you looking to brand your dealership and get your name out there? The first step to any great advertising campaign is to make sure you have a solid goal and that you are measuring your results in terms of that goal. Otherwise you’re just throwing money against the wall and hoping for results.

Luckily, Facebook has a comprehensive list of objectives that you can choose from in order to get the desired outcomes you’re looking for. For instance, you can choose lead ads, offer ads or brand awareness ads, just to name a few. Aligning your goals with the correct objective is integral to the success of your Facebook campaigns.

Know The Difference Between Boosting Posts And Facebook Ads

We advise a lot of dealers on various aspects of their marketing, but one of the most common questions that we get when we start to talk about advertising in Facebook is what’s the difference between boosting a post and running an ad in Facebook. It’s easy to see why there might be confusion here, especially since both activities require you to invest money with Facebook. But misunderstanding the two opportunities can have a major impact on the results you see from your Facebook efforts.

A lot of dealers who are doing their own advertising in Facebook, mistakenly assume that boosting a post is the same thing as running an ad, but they are actually two different things. While both activities require some advertising spend, when you boost a post, it starts by going out to your social network, then depending on your spend, you can expand the radius so the post will also reach the friends of people who liked your page or who demonstrate specific behaviors within a finite radius. But where boosted posts really fall short is that they are unlikely to get you real, actionable lead data. You might experience more social engagement with a boosted post, but if you start running a Facebook ad campaign, you can generate leads on a large scale. Now these ads appear organically right in users’ Newsfeed, but instead of just getting a like, you can come away with a real lead.

Know Your Target Audience

One of the most powerful tools Facebook has to offer is the ability to build and target a specific audience. There are lots of different audience options within Facebook. One of the first questions we ask a dealer when we start working with them is about their geographic location. In other words, how far do you think a person would drive to buy a car from your dealership? Then, we use this information to target people who live in that area. After you set your geo-targeting, you can also narrow your audience by age, gender and other distinguishing factors like interests and behaviors.

But targeting in Facebook doesn’t stop there. If you have a list of past customers who have bought from your dealership, you can upload that into the back end of Facebook and create a “Lookalike Audience” which is an audience that demonstrates the same kinds of behaviors and interests as those people who just bought from you. You can also use the list that you’ve just uploaded to create a “Custom Audience,” which can be really valuable if you have a in-house service department because then you can promote service specials to them now or buy-back specials later down the road.

Know How To Leverage Retargeting

Retargeting is an excellent and usually low cost way to leverage Facebook’s platform to generate more leads or re-engage past leads. Retargeting uses cookies to track people who have visited your site but didn’t become a lead. Over time you build your list using these cookies. Then you can serve these people different offers through Facebook. These campaigns are usually low cost because it’s such a small audience, but they’re incredibly effective because they allow you to have multiple touch points with a prospect, meaning you can serve them different offers until one speaks to them and gets them to convert. Luckily, the ads are shown right in their Newsfeed, which feels more organic and less like they’re being marketed to.

Retargeting is an extremely powerful tool and it’s something that every advertising campaign should have, whether you’re working in Facebook or Google. Regardless of the platform, you should have a separate campaign built out specifically for retargeting needs. Make sure this is something you’re considering when setting up your own campaigns or a conversation you have with your provider if you’re signing up with an agency.

Know Your Cost Per Car And Establish Your Budget

A lot of dealers ask us how much they should budget for advertising in Facebook, and the answer is that you should base your budget on how many cars you want to sell; however, that requires you to know what your average cost per car is. If it’s costing you $500 in advertising to sell a car right now, then you can assume that if you spend $2000 in Facebook, you should sell at least 4 cars off of that spend. You might sell more than that, but that’s the drop-dead minimum. So test with that and see if it delivers the ROI you’re looking for. Really, it all comes down to how many cars you’re looking to sell and then work backwards from there, applying your cost per car.

Ultimately, one of the biggest mistakes we see dealers make is approaching Facebook as a replacement for other forms of marketing. But here’s the truth, if what you’re doing is already working, then don’t stop doing it. Instead, look at Facebook as an additional source of opportunities. That means if you want to try Facebook, first determine how many additional cars you would like to sell and then use some additional ad spend on testing Facebook. The worst thing you can do is take money way from an advertising source that IS WORKING and apply it to a source that may or may not work for you.

Regardless of what size dealership you have, advertising on Facebook can present a big opportunity for growth.

If you don’t pay for ads, there are a lot of opportunities on the social side of Facebook. You might be able to get more likes, more post shares, more of these engagement metrics, but ultimately, if you want to generate real leads that are likely to convert to sales, you’re going to want to participate in paid Facebook advertising.

Want to learn more about how you can create effective ads for your dealership that’ll help you sell more cars today? Download our free eBook The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide To Facebook Ads For Dealerships to get started.