Considering how quickly modern technology is progressing, and its impacts on online sales opportunities, it’s important to stay on the cutting edge of digital trends. Managing a successful independent used car dealership, however, is a full-time commitment. Fortunately, most major digital marketplace sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are user-friendly. Also, additional software solutions work seamlessly with these platforms to further automate many of the administrative tasks associated with selling used cars online.
In addition to Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, the auto sales sites below are among the most popular online marketplaces for used car dealers.
Cars.com is used by 13 million consumers each month. Sellers have the option to include a CarFax report in listings and syndicate their ad in the seller’s local print newspaper.
AutoTrader is noted for its partnership with Kelly Blue Book (KBB). The marketplace has exclusive features like a KBB Price Advisor and a nVision platform that provides real-time analytics and pricing data in one place.
TrueCar is an online marketplace consisting of a national network of certified auto dealers. In early 2020, TrueCar introduced new digital tools for sellers, including payment and trade-in calculators.
Comparatively, both Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist have advantages over the competition when it comes to selling pre-owned automobiles online.
While Craigslist’s used car inventory features everything from classic Chevy Impalas to newer Porsche Panameras, the site is famous for its bargain-used car finds. And it’s the relatively lower price point that keeps the site a consumer favorite.
Craigslist reaches approximately 60 million users in America each month. Last year, the site reportedly earned over $1 billion in annual revenue, with most of the transactions coming from the U.S.
Like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is available in 70 countries. The marketplace’s key advantage is the support of Facebook’s approximately 2.7 billion monthly visitors. In the U.S., one in three Facebook members uses Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell everything from household goods to pre-owned vehicles — with over 20 million visitors clicking on vehicle listings every month.
Following a few years of improvements since its launch in 2016, there are plenty of reasons why dealerships should be using Facebook Marketplace.
Facebook’s phenomenal reach is unchallenged. Add in Facebook Marketplace’s user-friendly interface for creating and posting classified ads and the option to post directly to related Facebook Groups, and it’s easy to see why the sales platform is the top choice for car dealerships looking to add to their lots.
There are many reasons why Facebook Marketplace is becoming a big deal for selling used cars. Key selling points:
Unlike third-party lead providers, Facebook Marketplace doesn’t currently sell premium listings, allowing dealers to generate exposure without having to pay to play.
Facebook is a more trusted brand that, unlike Craigslist, verifies its users. Communication is linked to members’ Pages, providing a sense of comfort for sellers and buyers who can clearly see each other‘s pertinent details on each Page.
Facebook offers exclusive attributes. In addition to the support of Facebook Groups, Facebook Marketplace lists each vehicle’s CarFax history and Kelley Blue Book value.
Further cementing Facebook’s commitment to helping independent dealerships find success online, sellers can download e-courses that teach how to best advertise a dealership on Facebook.
Perhaps the main advantage of using Facebook Marketplace is the ability to immediately respond to potential buyers in real-time using Facebook Messenger. The feature debuted nearly a decade ago and today has about 1.3 billion monthly users. It makes the sales process more efficient by letting dealers integrate auto-responses, chatbots, and other automated features to respond to and engage potential buyers quickly.
To best utilize Facebook Messenger in responding to leads, Facebook suggests using an integrated CRM system or Facebook’s Leads Center. These tools save time by automatically loading leads, collecting data, and permitting responses in a timely manner.
Don’t miss an opportunity to engage customers even when you’re not online. Messenger allows you to incorporate pop-up Instant Greetings via a Messenger box that opens when users visit your Facebook Page.
Making the marketing strategy even easier for the seller, Facebook has created a dealer hub with suggested methods to increase success in the Facebook Marketplace.
Learning to harness Facebook Marketplace’s many marketing tools is vital, but it requires time and research. To help expedite matters, Facebook includes success stories from auto dealers across the country. The invaluable resource includes real-life examples of how Marketplace tools are helping to increase leads. For example, an Illinois Chevrolet dealer tested automotive inventory ads for prospecting and increased the number of visits to its site by 5.9 times.
Another priority to consider is response time. The sooner you respond, the better your chances of landing a new buyer. Here are a few more best practices to consider:
Make yourself available to immediately respond to leads. You can do this by running your ads during your dealership’s business hours when you can quickly follow up once customers share their information.
Offer personalized service. Customers who have specific questions or who are more comfortable engaging with a live representative in real-time will appreciate the attentive engagement.
Determine how customers prefer to be contacted. Tap into tools like the Appointment Request option to find out when and how potential buyers want to be contacted, whether it’s via FB Messenger, text, or phone, and the best time of day.
Help your sales team readily respond to leads. When customer inquiries begin rolling in, avoid overwhelming your crew by initiating options like Facebook’s Ad Scheduling to manage leads.
The far reach and many advantages that Facebook Marketplace offers auto dealers can’t be understated. There may be a substantial learning curve because of how much support is available, but the time commitment is worth the potential gains.
As your business grows, the next step is to consider utilizing further automation and innovative customer relationship management software (CRM) to help manage incoming leads and collate critical communications under one digital umbrella. There are many options, and finding the right CRM for your dealership is important. Plus, additional digital solutions can help to further automate administrative tasks and free up some time.
“Given the combination of greater time on devices and an increased need for cars, the time is right to utilize smart automation, for example, to reach out to leads who may have expressed interest in a specific model that just arrived on your lot,” says Zach Klempf, founder and CEO of Selly Automotive, an online software company that specializes in software solutions that seamlessly integrate with digital platforms like Facebook Marketplace. “Presenting the right information to leads when and where they want and need it gives dealerships a competitive edge and will be necessary to compete with [bigger] companies.”
This guide is written for used car dealers who are considering advertising on Facebook marketplace, currently using Facebook marketplace, or are curious about how Facebook works for auto dealerships.