Merchant: Rick Curren Auto Sales
Location: Horseheads, New York
Platforms: Facebook, Cars.com, CarGurus
Bottom Line: Auto dealers are searching for new ways to drive traffic to their websites and Facebook pages.
When Google announced it would no longer be showing ads along the right side of search engine results, local search experts were quick to point out that car dealerships would be among the business categories most impacted by the change. But for Rick Curren Auto Sales, Adwords has never been a part of the equation. Instead, Anthony Curren says he relies on digital platforms like Facebook, Cars.com, and CarGurus to generate new leads and drive traffic to his website.
At his family-owned used car dealership, located in Horseheads, New York, Anthony works as a salesman and also handles the business’ marketing strategies. Although his father Rick has “always been averse to using advertising,” he agreed to go along for the ride when Anthony suggested they give Facebook a try.
“In the first week we had over 80,000 people reached,” Anthony says. “Since then, everyone has been mentioning seeing us on Facebook.”
To achieve those results, Anthony spent $500 on two ads. One ad promoted the RickCurren.com website and one ad promoted a specific truck on the lot.
“Our main goal was to increase website traffic and leads,” he says. “We have just opened a second location, and we are trying to bring it in to the public eye in the most efficient way possible.”
Although foot traffic and sales have not increased since his Facebook campaign, Anthony says he has generated more online leads and the number of people who have inquired about cars or the buying process has increased.
“Any sales job is a numbers game, so more opportunities to sell undoubtedly results in higher sales volume,” he says.
In addition to running ads on Facebook, Anthony also spends three to five hours each week taking photos to put on his website and another three to five hours weekly on inventory management and paperwork. He doesn’t have a marketing budget, but spends what is necessary to reach consumers across digital channels. The dealership doesn’t advertise on TV, radio, or in print newspapers, either.
“Facebook is our starting point. We are a longtime member of Cars.com, and our vehicles are listed on CarGurus and a variety of other, smaller websites,” Anthony says.
While Anthony isn’t sure how much the dealership spends to promote its inventory on sites like Cars.com, he feels like Facebook advertising is much cheaper. That’s one of the reasons why he plans to keep running Facebook ads, even though they haven’t directly led to any sales—yet.
“Word of mouth is our strongest, and cheapest, form of advertisement,” he says. “Our referrals drive our business, and our repeat customers are our lifeblood.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.