Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means for dealers – vehicle sales season is coming up.

March is traditionally the biggest month of the year for car sales. In the US, vehicle sales plummeted in March 2018 compared to the previous year (according to Statista).


Vehicle sales of major car brands in the United States between December 2017 and December 2018 (in units)

New car registrations grew by 15.7% in March 2018 compared to March 2017, the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed.

Dealers should expect and prepare for traffic spikes on their websites. In this blog post, we’ll cover how to ensure your digital advertising is attracting new shoppers and bringing them back to your website:

To reach shoppers in Automotive, go digital

Your shoppers are digitally savvy – have no doubt about it.

A study commissioned by Cox Automotive through IHS Automotive confirmed that dealers should switch from traditional marketing strategies to digital advertising to remain relevant to the buyer and stay ahead of the competition. Why?

88% of customers now use the Internet to shop for a car, and only 2% of their time is spent shopping for cars through print materials (such as newspapers).

Considering that your potential customers are found online, here are the key advertising techniques you should adopt in your dealership.

Google Search & Display Ads

Why Google Ads?

Car buyers spend 16 hours on average researching their vehicle online. The top online sources consumers use to shop for both new and used vehicles include 3rd party sites (78%), dealership sites (57%), and OEM sites (36% total with 54% of consumers using OEM sites for new vehicle research).

Car buyers use a variety of sources to conduct their research, with certain channels being more influential than others. Most consumers use 3rd party websites more than any other site with 56% of car buyers believing that 3rd party sites are the most useful.

What are Google Ads?

To keep your dealership top-of-mind, Google Ads incentivizes buyers at every stage of the buying cycle.

Google Search Ads may include location, directions and a click-to-call button for nearby dealerships. They may also display at the top of mobile search results. Google Display ads may include rich graphics from your inventory which can be placed on 3rd party websites where your buyers are doing their research.

What to expect?

The industry benchmarks for Google Ads in Automotive indicate:

  • the average Click Through Rate (CTR) for Search Ads is 4%, while the average CTR for Display Ads is 0.60%
  • the average Cost Per Click (CPC) for Search Ads is $2.46, while the average CPC for Display Ads is $0.58
  • the average Conversion Rate (CVR) for Search Ads is 6.03%, while the average CVR for Display Ads is 1.19%
  • The average Cost Per Action (CPA) for Search Ads is $33.52, while the average CPR for Display Ads is $23.68

Some of sMedia’s Google Ads campaigns had CTR for Display Ads 26% higher than the industry average, keeping CPC 5x lower than the dealer’s competition.

Facebook Retargeting Ads

Why Facebook Retargeting Ads?

The reality of the buyer’s journey in Automotive is harsh for dealers: 38% of car buyers only visit one dealership. They conduct their research online.

On average, it takes 7 visits to the dealership website before a customer is confident enough to take the next step in their buying journey.

What is Facebook Retargeting?

Facebook Retargeting Ads are an effective way to keep your dealership at the forefront of the buyer’s journey.

After buyers visit your website, they encounter relevant ads on Facebook and Instagram of the same vehicles that they were most interested in (based on our Engaged Prospect Metric deduced by their activity on your website’s VDPs). Think of it as your website following up with the customer like a good salesperson would.

This campaign helps you increase the likelihood of conversion by promoting relevant vehicles on Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds to your buyers.

What to expect?

sMedia ran Engaged Prospect Retargeting campaigns that were 21x more likely to be clicked on than Google Retargeting Ads.

Facebook Lookalike Ads

Why Facebook Lookalike Ads?

30% of buyers know exactly what vehicle they plan to purchase. This means the other 70% are still on the hunt for their perfect car; open to different vehicles on your lot.

When car buyers first begin their research for a vehicle, 6 out of 10 are undecided and open to multiple vehicle options.

What is Facebook Lookalike?

Facebook Lookalike Ads drive new prospects to your website by using A.I. to seek out potential buyers based on similar online behaviours and socio-economic backgrounds to those of your currently engaged VDP shoppers.

Facebook relies on your current traffic data to formulate a Lookalike Audience with similar traits to your shoppers. The best practice is to target their Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds with a tailored carousel ad showcasing up to 10 vehicles, each linked directly to your website’s VDP.

What to expect?

Some of sMedia’s Facebook Lookalike campaigns resulted in CPC 9x lower than the average in Automotive.

Facebook Lead Ads

Why Facebook Lead Ads?

46% of your customers are using multiple devices to get to your website. Meanwhile, 14% use a mobile device exclusively.

What are Facebook Lead Ads?

Facebook Lead Ads target your existing or potential shoppers on Facebook and Instagram news feeds and convert them into leads while they stay on social media. Think of it as filling in a VDP form without actually visiting your website.

Buyers tap your ad in the newsfeed and the form appears, already prepopulated with the information they’ve shared with Facebook. They get needed information quickly while you generate a qualified lead. You can also add custom fields to the form to capture the most useful customer information for your dealership.

What to expect?

Based on our experience, you may expect the Cost Per Lead on Facebook to be as low as $39.85.

To sum up

In this era of customer-centric marketing, dealers can’t afford to ignore their digital presence anymore. We have outlined the key advertising techniques that may help you make the most out of the spring sale season, but the right mix of advertising techniques still comes down to your individual dealership.

Get in touch with one of sMedia’s marketing professionals and we will come up with a custom mix of services and products to propel you ahead of the competition.

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