5 Social Media Targeting Strategies Auto Dealerships Need To Be Using

When it comes to Facebook Ads, so many factors are important to your success: you need the right visuals, the right offer, and the right copy. But you can’t create any of that or drive any conversions if your targeting isn’t on point.

Targeting is particularly important for auto dealers, as ad campaigns will need to be a multi-engagement process. The majority of people won’t be willing to see an ad for your SUV just once and come running into to fill out a loan with your financing department; many wouldn’t even be willing to come in for a zero-pressure test drive at that point.

Due to the nature of the purchase, which is significant in cost and decision, you’ll need to use a series of ad campaigns over a long period of time to best nurture your audience and eventually bring them in to your dealership.

Targeting will help you connect with the right audience and keep them engaged, and it will also help you to write high-quality ads that are directly relevant to that specific audience. You may need to create an ad targeting new car shoppers that will have different copy than those who are looking for used cars, for example, in order for it to be effective.

In this post, we’re going to look at 5 Facebook ad targeting and retargeting strategies for automotive dealerships, and how you can use them to nurture your audience all the way into a brand new (or new-to-them!) car.

1. Use Interest & Behavior Targeting to Generate Awareness

Interest and behavior targeting options can be a powerful secret ingredient when you want to connect with new audience members and generate interest in your brand overall.

These campaigns are great for early stages of the funnel, where people are learning things like “Hondas retain their value” or “Subarus have great safety features,” as opposed to knowing the different details of your latest model of the hatchback.

There are different options available to you, including targeting people who have certain incomes for luxury or sports cars that come at a higher price tag.

You can also target users who are interested in specific brands, like Subarus or Toyotas, or target users who are interested in vehicle leasing.

Create relevant copy for each individual interest, demographic, or behavior you’re targeting to best connect with that audience.

2. Create Ad Funnels Using Retargeting

Ad funnels work by showing the same audience a sequence of ads one at a time in an order that’s designed to keep these users interested and nurture them all the way from brand awareness to conversion. It’s all about the re-engagement process.

Ad funnels should heavily rely on retargeting campaigns. The following is a strong, safe strategy for auto dealers who are interested in setting up retargeting ad funnels:

Start with a video ad using either a lookalike audience or general interest, demographic, or behavior targeting. Videos are useful in capturing user interest, but not requiring them to take action.

Create a retargeting campaign based on those video views, showing a relevant ad to viewers who watched at least half of your video, designed to drive clicks to a landing page.

Follow up the landing page campaign with another retargeting campaign, targeting users who viewed your landing page but didn’t go to the next page in that funnel, or convert. Show them a lead ad, and encourage them to sign up for a free test drive.

Continue to keep in your funnel until they convert, using a combination of new ads to attract cold audience members into the funnel and retargeting campaigns to keep them moving through it. Remember to keep your funnels straight so that your copy, images, videos, and offers stay relevant.

3. Reach Out to Past Customers With Custom Audiences

If it’s been 3 years or more, past customers may be interested in upgrading. Reach out to them by collecting their email addresses or phone numbers of your databases, and then show them hyper-relevant ads that promise to offer a great trade-in value for the specific model and year that they’ve purchased.

In the process, make sure that these ad campaigns let them know about any new features or model incentives that your newer cars offer. Do they have more advanced safety features, an improved back-up camera, or better mileage? Go hard on those pain points, making it specific to the past model they purchased and the correlating model you think they’d be most likely to upgrade to now.

4. Use Custom Audiences To Find Similar Users

At this point, you’ve got your custom audiences up and running. Go ahead and use those high-value custom audiences to create lookalike audiences, which will be similar to the customers you already have.

When you’re creating a lookalike audience, make sure you keep the similarity high, opting for quality over pure quantity. This will help you connect with more relevant audience members. Use what you know about that custom audience and ensure that you’ve written ad copy.

You can create a custom audience for users who have leased vehicles from you, one for those who have purchased your premium models or trims, and one who often rely on trade-ins. Use lookalike audiences off of each, and write copy and offers that would appeal to these customers at the very beginning of the sales journey.

5. Implement Dynamic Ads Based On Website Activity

Once you have people bouncing around on your site and viewing specific models of your car– picking out that burgundy color and eyeing the leather seats and that sunroof– use dynamic ad campaigns to keep users’ eyes on the exact car that’s caught their interest.

The more they see that single car that’s most attractive to them, the more tempting it becomes. Make sure that your dynamic ad copy is tailored to detail the most exciting or appealing benefits of each individual car on your site so that the ads aren’t just generic, but will actually speak to your audience.

In order to do this, you’ll need to set up a product catalog in your business manager, which will include details of each car model you want to promote on Facebook. You can learn more about how to do this here.


When you’re creating ad funnels for your auto dealership, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when pairing up a target audience with the right messaging.

Remember that you should always keep a specific audience relationship with your brand, their stage of the sales funnel, and their purchase intent in mind.

A customer who you’re hitting with interest targeting isn’t ready to convert, so talking about your great sales won’t be enough; instead, show parents a video talking about safety and people who are worried about the environment a video about your cars’ smaller carbon footprint.

Similarly, someone who bought a car five years ago isn’t actively looking to purchase, but if you can show the upgraded features they don’t have and assure them a great trade-in value, you’ll have their interest more than if you just promoted the new models outright.

The more relevant your ad copy is to a single individual, the more likely it is that they’ll take interest in and action on your ad, which pushes them to the next stage of the funnel. Since auto dealers will require longer funnels than businesses in other industries, this is crucial for long-term success concerning Automotive Digital Marketing Agencies.

Are you interested in getting help setting up effective ad funnels for your dealership? Get in touch here!