As the data shows, the auto buyer’s journey is extended and complex. Marketers have gotten smarter about winning customers in the competitive automotive space, but there are new localized targeting tactics that can help keep your dealership ahead of the game. These geo-location and other digital targeting tactics – particularly when combined – can lead to powerful campaigns that engage car buyers all along their path to purchase.

There are a lot of targeting tactics for auto marketers to consider – some new and some tried-and-true – but all of them worth testing. Based on findings from Simpli.fi’s successful management of over 10,000 active automotive campaigns, here are the most impactful ones for dealerships to adopt:

Reach Potential Buyers Early with Keyword Search Retargeting

Search is a lower-funnel activity, meaning that customers actually searching for “sedan” or “minivan” are generally already on the path to purchase. Keyword search retargeting allows auto marketers to deliver ads to shoppers who have already searched for relevant terms, signaling that they’re actively shopping. Not only can you retarget customers who are searching for keywords or phrases that are relevant to cars in your inventory, you can reach customers searching for competitor cars. So, if a shopper has searched for “Honda Odyssey,” you can engage them with ads touting the advantages of the Dodge Caravans you’re marketing – and then get them back to your dealership’s site to price out their perfect model.

Show Relevant Ads to Buyers Browsing the Web with Contextual Targeting
Reach and engage shoppers while they’re consuming online content that contains keywords or categories that are relevant to your audience, inventory and/or dealership(s). You can create custom list of keywords or categories that are important to your business – and then serve relevant ads to users as they read content and gather information to inform their car purchase. That means if a potential buyer is reading about the “Top Luxury Cars of 2018” or “What’s New with Plug-in Hybrids?” they could see your message adjacent to those articles.

Own Your Geo with the Most Accurate Mobile Geo-Fencing Technology
By building a virtual “targeting fence” around the neighborhoods near your dealership(s), your competitors’ dealerships, or another area of interest, you can create more targeting opportunity to reach nearby customers on their mobile device. There are tons of ways marketers can use geo-fencing:

    Proximity: Your dealership’s local city, town, and region are high-opportunity areas to simply target mobile users within a set distance of the dealership by creating customer-sized and –shaped geo-fences based on address, ZIP code, and/or neighborhood – any desired location really.

    Repeat Visitors: When getting started with geo-fencing, always start by geo-fencing your own dealership(s). This will ensure that potential customers who have previously visited your dealership and left without buying a car receive your mobile ads and are reminded to come back.

    Conquesting: Geo-fencing is also a powerful conquesting tool for auto dealers. Six out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure of which car to buy. On top of that, 23% of car buyers use their mobile phone to research their purchase while on the lot, and buyers visit an average of 2.7 dealerships before they sign on the dotted line. In this process, there is often comparison shopping – dropping by a nearby competitor dealership to test drive a comparable make or model. Geo-fence your competitors’ lots, and when a potential car buyer visits their lots and leaves, bring those buyers back to your lot by serving ads to those users.

    Relevant Location: Target users who have been to specific locations that would indicate a relevant interest for your inventory of vehicles.

    Conversion Zones: Set up conversion zones around your dealership(s) to accurately gauge and optimize mobile campaign effectiveness by tracking what amount of physical traffic at your dealership has previously seen one of your mobile ads.

    Event Targeting: Advertise to potential customers who have attended a relevant event at a specific date, time and location – like a concert sponsored by Ford or a car show.

Re-Engage Buyers After They Leave Your Website with Site Retargeting
A great way to keep your dealership top of mind is by serving ads to customers who’ve already been to your website. Visitors who have already browsed your online inventory are clearly interested, but 98% of first-time visitors are unlikely to take action (Inc.). By re-engaging these shoppers after their first visit to your website, you’re more likely to get them back at a moment when they’re closer to making a purchase decision – and more likely to take action.

Bring Your Offline Customer Data Online
Auto dealers have a wealth of data on their customers: date of last car purchase, interests, lease expirations, etc. Auto dealers’ customer database, or CRM, is an incredibly valuable resource for auto marketers. Since you are likely using your dealership’s CRM list for direct mail and other local communication purposes, expand your reach and create digital customer touch points by serving ads to your customers as they surf the web. CRM targeting lets you use your own customer data to reach and engage prospective buyers. This also works with purchase lists, but whether it’s your own home-grown data or third party’s, your database can be used to target shoppers you already know are in-market.

While all of these tactics are powerful on their own, they’re best when used together in any combination. Deployed simultaneously, they create the best opportunity to reach car buyers at all stages of their purchasing journey, improving odds for conversion at your dealership(s).

Of course, auto marketers need to track and measure campaigns in order to know how well they’re working – or if they’re working at all. Analytics are the only way to do that, and Simpli.fi’s analytics make it easy to see how effective your digital campaigns are. With over 60 pre-build reports, it’s easy to find the data you need to prove ROI. Even better, Simpli.fi allows you to analyze your geo-targeting campaigns to track how well they’re driving incremental foot traffic to your dealerships. Metrics like Campaign Conversion Rate, Natural Conversion Rate, Geo-Conversion Lift, New User Campaign Conversion Lift, Natural Days to Convert and Campaign Days to Convert give marketers insight into which foot traffic was naturally converted versus influence by an ad in the campaign. That’s powerful information to have handy – especially when ROI needs to be proven.

Localized programmatic is a powerful and cost-efficient way to drive leads and sales for auto marketers. Dealerships looking to gain an edge in their competitive market should consider at least testing a few of these targeting tactics to see the dramatic results they can deliver. Download our Auto Advertisers Playbook for a more in-depth look at what localize programmatic can do, or take the next step and contact Simpli.fi at hi@simpli.fi to get started.