Facebook Marketplace, while new on the scene, has quickly turned into a valuable sales channel for dealerships. Many dealers are finding great success in engagement as well as sales with consumers. Not just another third-party listing site, Facebook Marketplace has capabilities many other platforms don’t have. Chief among them is the ability for interested car buyers to communicate with dealerships in real time through Facebook Messenger.
Manually listing cars on Marketplace can be an arduous and time-consuming process, which is why many dealerships pick and choose the vehicles that they think would be most attractive to car shoppers on Facebook. The problem with that is dealers are missing sales as we’ve seen car shoppers interested in a wide variety of vehicle makes, models and price ranges.
Dealers do have an alternate option, however, and it's not one that many are unfamiliar with… having their vehicles listed automatically just as they are already doing with their inventory. Dealers need to understand, however, that automated listing can only be accomplished via Facebook approved vendors and, even then, some vendors have limited capabilities regarding what they can actually automate. For example, some vendors can automatically send inventory but not rich content like images.
There are more than a few Marketplace inventory partners available, but dealers should be asking these partners which services and features they are able to automate and service. Also, just being able to upload inventory isn’t satisfactory. Today’s consumers want the ability to communicate with dealers about specific inventory listings – and they want to be able to do that without the need to leave Facebook. This can only be accomplished via Facebook Messenger or via live chat. Yes, consumers can use Facebook Messenger without the need for live chat, but the problem is that someone at the dealership needs to be monitoring Facebook Messenger for incoming inquiries and the only people that could do that need to be admins of the Facebook page.
Another critical thing for dealers to be aware of is that only certified pre-owned inventory can be listed, not new vehicles. The listings will only appear on Facebook Marketplace, not on the dealership’s Facebook page. Dealers should understand that Facebook Marketplace isn’t a sales channel like eBay in that actual sales can be made but rather a channel in which car buyers can engage with dealers and start conversations that lead to a sale. Of course, today’s car shoppers won’t wait very long for responses before they move on to the next vehicle they’re interested in whether that’s a similar vehicle or a different make or model so paying attention to messages and interactions is a key component to success on Facebook Marketplace.
A great feature of Facebook Marketplace is that car buyers are only shown available vehicles within a 40-mile radius of a car shopper’s location. This allows a dealership to know that inquiries are coming from local shoppers and not individuals in other states for the most part. Of course, consumers can change this filter, but the majority of consumers shopping on Facebook Marketplace will be in a dealership’s area aside from some unique inventory items or rare vehicles.
Facebook’s advice is that dealers should avoid working with multiple Marketplace partners, so dealers should not be relying on multiple vendors to put together the puzzle pieces (i.e., one vendor for the actual listing while a separate vendor for images or chat services).
Keep these things in mind when beginning to explore how to use Facebook Marketplace to your dealership’s advantage as a new sales channel. Facebook Marketplace offers unique capabilities and can be a very successful sales channel if properly implemented and monitored.
Keep an eye out for part two of this series in which we’ll discuss how to engage customers to maximize results and increase conversions.