Craigslist’s no-frills advertising platform paved the way for auto dealerships to transition away from traditional classified advertising into a multi-channel classified digital marketing ecosystem that has forever transformed the way local automotive dealerships do business.
LotVantage, which got its start in Craigslist advertising, has helped auto dealers traverse this ever-changing marketing space for 15 years, enabling dealerships to market and advertise their inventory online through eBay, Craigslist and Facebook among others.
But classified marketing isn't so classified anymore.
While Craigslist continues to thrive in the classified marketspace, Jabaay cites Facebook and OfferUp as emerging alternatives vying to upend the king. The Facebook Marketplace provides a layer of privacy between buyers and sellers, enabling buyers to communicate with dealers without disclosing personal information. OfferUp helps dealers establish trust with buyers through its verified dealer program.
As the two platforms mature and their influence in the classified marketspace increases, Jabaay gives his advice on how auto dealerships can maximize their brand awareness and build trust with consumers in this evolving ecosystem.
The biggest challenge independent dealers face today is a failure to brand. Jabaay encourages dealers to focus on building their brand awareness as a means to effectively advertise to their target market.
His first step for dealers: Create content that shares what the buying experience will be like going into the dealership. “A lot of consumers usually have a negative connotation about a dealership,” Jabaay said. “Sometimes, brands deploy capital on advertising, but their creative doesn’t reach their audience.
Jabaay said dealers can establish transparency with their consumers by creating content that mixes corporate branding with the dealership's personal message. This transparency can help dealers set themselves apart from other dealerships in their area.
During the content process, Jabaay also recommends dealers convey the culture of the dealership in their content, which can add another layer of authenticity when advertising to their target market.
“Whether you buy today or in six months, you want to make sure your dealership is the one they remember when they start that Google search,” Jabaay said. “It’s all about that ‘why buy from me’ moment.”
Once the content is created, Jabaay said dealers should advertise in two ways: by targeting website visitors as well as in-market shoppers. The LotVantage platform helps dealerships retarget consumers who express interest in a dealership's online inventory. From $500 to $2500 a month (on average), dealers can retarget potential buyers with content that stays top-of-mind throughout the buyer's journey until a decision to buy is eventually made.
However, dealers must be strategic in how they tailor their targeting. If they happen to operate in a sub-vertical of automotive such as powersports, Jabaay said, less than 10 percent of Americans fit into that category. To address this, LotVantage uses its platform to assist dealers in their targeting analysis to create focused advertising specific that sub-vertical.
"Having a target and a focused advertisement, like how do on Facebook, makes a [dealer's] budget fewer than tens of thousands of dollars," Jabaay said. "If you're looking at the advertising strategy, you're talking $5000 to $6000 a month."
Changes in the automotive industry have also influenced consumer buying preferences, which Jabaay said have leaned towards used and pre-owned vehicle purchases. According to Jabaay, new dealers who have entered the automotive vertical have begun refocusing their efforts around building and advertising their used car inventory as a way to contrast their existing offerings due to the rise in new car prices. “$500 a month for a new car – that's a lot of money for somebody to spend,” Jabaay said. “So the alternative is purchasing from used inventory or leasing.”
Jabaay suggests potential buyers research pre-owned vehicles, which he says can take financial pressure off consumers interested in buying a newer car. "There's a lot of great leases out there for $199 or $249 a month that can put somebody in a brand new car," Jabaay said. "For that cheap, they don't have to worry about major payments like buying a new car."
LotVantage wastes no time integrating new services into their product offerings. They are now a verified dealer on the OfferUp platform. "Platforms like OfferUp are allowing dealerships to become trusted profiles, so you know who you're doing business with," Jabaay said. "Even with consumer-to-consumer, you're going to see who you're about to meet or what's going to happen."
Jabaay said dealerships using the LotVantage platform will be able to advertise their inventories on the OfferUp program starting as early as next week.
More information about LotVantage can be found by visiting https://lotvantage.com.