A Guide to Retargeting for Dealerships

Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy that allows dealerships to further their reach and digital impact with potential customers. But for retargeting to succeed, the campaign has to be managed and run well.

Rather than simply throwing marketing dollars at another retargeting campaign, business owners and marketing managers need to gain a deeper understanding of how retargeting works and what tactics will improve the dollars spent on this marketing tactic.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the basics of a retargeting campaign to the key tactics that can help your dealership successfully use retargeting to market to the right customers at the right time. The result is an increase in conversions with less marketing spend.

Understanding the Basics of How Retargeting Works

Before spending a dime on a retargeting campaign, you have to understand the basic tenets of retargeting. This can help you build a more intelligent strategy for your retargeting tactics.

What Is Retargeting?

Simply put, retargeting is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to serve ads to potential customers who have already taken an action that indicates an interest in your business or product.

At its core, retargeting functions off the understanding that most customers are not ready to convert the first time they visit your website or reach out for information. In fact, most customers will begin in your marketing funnel during the awareness stage of making a purchase. At this point, they are gathering information and aren’t ready to make a final purchasing decision.

For example, customers visit your online showroom to learn more about the latest Toyota models available. They click around your website, reading up on a few models, and then they get a notification that their Aunt Sally has commented on their latest Facebook post.

Distracted, they leave your website and head over to Facebook to see what Aunt Sally has to say. From here, it could be days or even months before they pick back up their vehicle search. And, by the time they are ready to convert into a sale, a whole year might have gone by.

The goal of retargeting is to keep reminding those customers about your dealership and any potential sales hooks that might draw them back to your website or into your physical showroom.

When your customers hop on to check the weather the next day, retargeting will allow you to display an ad alongside the weather for the upcoming Toyota sales event your dealership is hosting.

In this way, retargeting is all about following customers throughout their purchasing journey, surfacing relevant ads and information across the entire web.

Pixel-Based vs. List Based Retargeting

When we speak about retargeting campaigns, it is important to differentiate between pixel-based and list-based retargeting.

Pixel-based retargeting would allow you to place a pixel in the browser the moment a customer visits a specific webpage or takes a specific action on your website. From this point, a cookie would follow that customer throughout the journey across the web. That cookie will then tell retargeting platforms to surface an ad based on that original pixel.

From the example above, when potential customers visited your online showroom, it activated this pixel-based process. For the next few days, the cookies in this customer’s browser told Google and other retargeting platforms to surface ads about your upcoming Toyota sales event.

A second type of retargeting campaign is list-based. Rather than simply relying on customers to land on your website to create a campaign, list-based retargeting allows you to upload a specific set of customers you want to retarget with new ads.

This list might be based on a previous marketing campaign you ran, emails you gathered from an in-person event, or a list curated from your CMS. Regardless, list-based retargeting is a great tool for broadening your reach, as it does not depend upon how many people are currently visiting your website.

The Best Platforms for Retargeting

Plenty of methods are available for launching a retargeting campaign, but most dealerships turn to two major platforms: the Google Display Network and Facebook.

The Display Network reaches the highest number of online users possible at more than 90 percent of global internet users. Google Ads owns the largest portion of search advertising at more than 60 percent of the market’s share. In fact, the majority of retargeting ads you see on a day-to-day basis are due to a Google retargeting campaign. These campaigns are a powerful tool for reaching customers anywhere they go.

Alongside the Google Display Network, Facebook is another powerhouse for retargeting. With more than 2.8 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of 2021 alone, Facebook is the world’s largest social media network. This makes Facebook a highly effective platform for retargeting. A customer who was browsing your online showroom moments ago is highly likely to open up Facebook later in the day.

The Goal of Retargeting Campaigns for Dealerships

Understanding how a retargeting campaign works is only the beginning. You need to have a goal before running a campaign. What are the goals of retargeting campaigns for dealerships? Any and all of the following:

  • To Boost Conversions: It is no mystery that every dealership wants to increase sales conversions. When used well, retargeting can be a powerful way to do just that. While customers are rarely ready to convert the first moment they land on your website if they are looking to eventually purchase a vehicle, retargeting allows you to stay top of mind. This means that the moment they are ready to convert, they can be influenced to choose your dealership for their purchase.
  • To Create Brand Awareness: It’s easy in our digital world for customers to find you online and then forget about your dealership a week later. Whether you have a long-established name in the community or you are looking to build initial brand awareness in a new market, retargeting can help you foster a strong brand image with potential customers. And, in today’s competitive market, this is increasingly important. If customers don’t know and trust your name, a competitor will swoop in to earn their business.
  • To Introduce Additional Vehicle Options: Beyond just surfacing the same vehicle ads in front of potential customers, retargeting also allows you to introduce additional vehicle options. If a customer was looking at a limited inventory, you might serve up an ad later that showcases a similar vehicle that is currently in stock. This can be an effective way to move static inventory.
  • To Close the Loop: Too often, customers begin down the marketing funnel and then simply fall off into the abyss. No one follows up with them about their potential interest in a vehicle, they never hear about your upcoming sales event, and they are lost. Retargeting helps you close this loop. Instead of allowing customers to disappear, you can keep reaching out as they progress through the marketing funnel.

Tips for Dealerships Using Retargeting Ads

Dealerships who use retargeting campaigns effectively have a lot to gain. But a poorly run campaign is simply a waste of precious marketing spend. Armed with a basic understanding of how these campaigns work, use the following practical tips to improve your retargeting strategy.

#1: Run Both Pixel-Based and List-Based Campaigns

Which is better, a pixel-based or list-based retargeting campaign? The answer is neither. Both styles of campaigns have their pros and cons.

The best strategy is to implement both options. This can help you increase your dealership’s reach while also allowing you to gain information about which campaign style is providing your dealership with the highest ROI.

Not only that, but depending on your current marketing needs, one campaign style might also be more effective than another.

For example, you might want to run a pixel-based campaign during a peak sales season when you know customers are most likely to be heading into the final purchasing stage. Conversely, a list-based campaign might be the ideal way to garner more interest for an upcoming sales event as you retarget to a curated list of previous customers.

#2: Create Compelling Ads

Regardless of how well you set up your retargeting campaigns, they will only ever be as effective as the ads you are surfacing.

Before you throw money at a campaign, take time to analyze your ads.

  • How easy is the ad to understand? Can customers quickly scan it for important information? Remember, these ads will be showing up almost anywhere on the web. Customers won’t be specifically looking for information at that moment, which makes quick digestibility important for your ad.
  • How eye-catching is the ad? Use high-quality graphics and an aesthetically pleasing design. You want to capture the eye of a customer who is busy looking at something else.
  • How relevant is the ad? Segment your campaign to serve relevant ads at the right moment. For example, if a customer was recently browsing your selection of Toyota pickup trucks, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to surface an ad for a Ford Focus. The more relevant the ad, the more likely a customer will click on that ad and take action.

#3: Measure and Adjust

As is true with any digital marketing campaign, the key to long-term success is found in measuring and analyzing the data you gather from the campaign. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can change things in real time. This allows you to adjust spending as needed and to improve your ad copy as you see what is working and what isn’t.

Be bold enough to experiment, but always have a measurable goal in mind.

Take Your Retargeting Campaign to the Next Level With J&L Marketing

Retargeting can be a powerful tool for your dealership. And at J&L Marketing, we have years of experience helping dealerships take a strategic approach to this digital marketing tactic. We will be happy to help you set up retargeting, create compelling ads, and measure your campaign’s success. We never settle for a “set it and forget it” approach; instead, we provide our customers with real-time ongoing campaign assistance.

If you are interested in learning more about how your dealership can use retargeting campaigns to reach more customers and increase conversions, we are here to help. Reach out to our team today and accelerate your marketing strategy beyond the competition.

More To Explore

Subscribe To our newsletter!

Volkswagen Digital Marketing Enrollment Form

Schedule An Appointment

Schedule Your Event

Get Your Free Political Landscape Analysis

Get A Proposal

View Our Lookbook

Download the lookbook now

Our lookbook has examples of our display ads we have created for clients.