13/01/2023 - 11 minute read

How to use Facebook Ads to buy cars from local sellers for your dealership: An in-depth case study with examples

A profile picture of Gary Lewis Cheetham, the founder of GL Digital Automotive Marketing, smiling outside a car dealership

Written by

Gary Lewis Cheetham

Automotive marketing specialist from Manchester, UK

A header image for the blog post How to use Facebook Ads to buy cars from local sellers for your dealership: An in-depth case study with examples from GL Digital Automotive Marketing

Table of Contents

At GL Digital we are big supporters of helping used car dealerships to buy cars privately.

This article shows in detail how we were able to help a used car dealership based in Glasgow to successfully use Facebook Ads to target potential sellers of used cars in their local area, and to buy quality used cars from them.

You can follow these steps yourself to increase your profit per unit and to buy better used cars for your dealership.

We look at the specific targeting options available on Facebook and how they allowed the dealership to reach an audience that was more likely to be interested in selling their cars.

We also discuss the various strategies implemented by the dealership in order to maximize their ad campaign's effectiveness, such as targeting people based on location, interests, behaviours and more.

Why should a used car dealer buy cars privately rather than use auctions?

Buying cars privately, rather than from auctions or from car sourcing websites such as Motorway, is the best way you can grow your used car dealership. Buying a car privately gives a better understanding of the car's history, because you can meet the owner and talk to them face-to-face.

At AML 2022, Umesh Samani, the chairman of the IMDA, admits that he's always bought cars privately and this has helped him to find the right stock at the right margins.

Buying cars privately gives dealers a competitive edge in an online world.

Who is this article "How to use Facebook Ads to buy cars from local sellers for your dealership" written for?

This article and case study is primarily written for used car dealerships that are interested in using Facebook ads to buy more cars from local sellers.

We include some in-depth technical aspects so you must have experience running Facebook ads, and be comfortable using the Facebook business manager, to fully utilise the information in this guide.

The article is a comprehensive guide that provides a detailed explanation of how Facebook ads can be used to connect with local sellers of used cars and offers strategies and tips for creating effective ad campaigns.

The article also includes examples and case studies of how other dealerships have used Facebook ads to buy cars from local sellers.

Additionally, the article is for dealership owners, managers, and anyone in charge of sourcing used cars for the dealership who wants to learn more about using digital marketing channels to buy cars from local sellers.

The article is also valuable for dealerships looking for an alternative way to acquire cars, rather than just buying from auctions.

Before we continue, who has written the article "How to use Facebook Ads to buy cars from local sellers for your dealership"?

I am Gary Lewis Cheetham, an automotive marketing specialist with over 10 years of experience, born and raised in Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK.

I have always had a passion for the car trade and I helped my father's dealership to buy more cars privately using Facebook ads. I have a great understanding of how to successfully connect with local sellers and how to negotiate a great deal.

Now, I am the founder of GL Digital Automotive Marketing, a company I started in 2020 to help other dealerships achieve the same success by using digital marketing strategies.

My goal is to help independent dealers in the UK and US to realize their full potential by increasing their inventory of used cars and ultimately growing their business.

What are the benefits of using Facebook ads to buy cars for a local dealership?

The benefits of using Facebook ads to buy cars directly from customers for a local dealership are as follows:

  • A better understanding of car history and condition
  • Lower cost of acquisition (per unit)
  • Higher profit (per unit)
  • Better relationship with customers
  • Greater control over inventory volume

Why does buying cars from Facebook ads give a better understanding of a car's history and condition?

When buying cars directly from local customers using Facebook ads, the customer will drive the car onto your forecourt and you can meet them face to face. This gives an incredible level of extra detail on the car's history. Was the previous owner a single mum? A boy racer? A middle-aged bloke who just drives it to work? All of this builds a better picture of the car's value.

As a dealer, when you meet the customer face to face, you can more easily assess the condition of the car and verify the vehicle's history and maintenance records. This will help you to make more informed decisions about which cars to purchase, and which ones to leave alone.

Why does buying cars from Facebook ads give a dealership a better relationship with customers?

If you're meeting customers personally and buying cars privately, rather than buying cars anonymously at an auction, you can build relationships directly with people in your local community.

Click Dealer, a website provider for dealerships based in Stoke On Trent, told us that over 60% of the business happens within 20 miles of a dealership.

By working directly with local customers, the dealership can establish better relationships with the people in their community, which can help to drive repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.

These customers will come back to your dealership time and again, building a long-term customer base in your local area.

Why does buying cars from Facebook ads give a higher profit per unit?

Auctions often have many buyers bidding on the same cars, which can drive prices up. In contrast, when buying cars privately using Facebook ads, the dealership may be the only potential buyer, or at least you will be approaching the customer first before they have had time to use sites such as WeBuyAnyCar. This gives you more bargaining power and makes it easier to negotiate a lower price.

Why does buying cars from Facebook ads give a lower cost of acquisition?

Going through Facebook to contact customers directly allows you to cut out intermediaries, like auction houses, resulting in lower costs and more profits.

This is a chief component of our automotive direct-to-consumer model at GL Digital.

Why does buying cars using Facebook ads give greater control over inventory volume?

You can fine-tune your marketing budget on a daily basis by using Facebook ads, allowing you to turn your leads on and off like a tap.

Need more cars one month? Increase your budgets. Need less because you're overstocked? You can spend less or even stop the leads completely.

By buying cars directly from local customers, the dealership has more control over the types of cars they are acquiring and can choose to focus on certain makes, models, or years that are in high demand.

Why is buying cars using Facebook ads better than buying cars from auctions?

We hear time and again from our dealers that the stock they buy at auctions comes with hidden faults and dodgy history. Dealing directly with local customers using Facebook ads will avoid problems with the car's history because you get to know the customer face-to-face.

The majority of independent dealerships today buy cars from an auction house, such as BCA in the UK.

BCA is one of the largest car auctions in the UK and is owned by Constellation Automotive Group. Constellation group also own WeBuyAnyCar.com, and Cinch.

When you go to BCA to buy a car, what you are seeing are the cars that are left over after Constellation Group has taken all the good cars to sell on their retail website, Cinch.

This leaves dealers fighting over the scraps.

Case study: Using Facebook Ads to Connect with Local Sellers of Used Cars

Now let's get into today's case study. For our client, a used car dealer based in Glasgow, we have made Facebook ads an invaluable tool for connecting with local sellers of used cars.

An introduction to the used dealership described in this case study "How to use Facebook Ads to buy cars from local sellers for your dealership"

An image of the front of DLR Car Company, the company mentioned in this case study

DLR Car Company is a used car dealership based in Glasgow. They currently have a small inventory of 10 units in stock which is limiting their ability to grow their sales and customer base.

Given their limited stock, they are likely facing challenges such as difficulty in attracting new customers and retaining repeat business, as well as difficulty in competing with larger dealerships that have a wider selection of cars to offer.

What are the issues DLR car company was facing by buying stock from Auctions and from Motorway.co.uk?

Prior to working with us, they were buying the majority of their stock through Motorway.co.uk.

The main issue was the fees associated with buying a car at auction or online. BCA for instance charges dealers upwards of £400 + VAT for every car they buy.

The owner would often drive to Aberdeen to pick up cheaper cars bought from Motorway.co.uk which was very time-consuming.

How are we using Facebook ads to help this used car company to buy more stock?

We are working with DLR Car Company to help them overcome these challenges by using Facebook ads to buy more stock. We are using targeted advertising to connect with potential car sellers in Glasgow and surrounding areas.

Our ad campaigns are designed to reach people who are more likely to be interested in selling their cars, and we are using lead generation to collect information from potential sellers, such as their contact information and the details of the car they are selling.

In addition, we are also utilizing retargeting campaigns to reach people who have recently bought cars from competitors, when they are looking to upgrade or sell their car.

Through these efforts, we aim to increase DLR Car Company's inventory and attract more customers to the dealership, which will ultimately help them to grow their business.

What are the aspects of a Facebook ads campaign that a used car dealership can use to buy cars?

The most important aspects to consider when running a Facebook ads campaign to buy cars are the following:

  1. Ad Copy and Video
  2. Targeting
  3. Form and Landing Page
  4. Call-to-Action

What ad copy is best to use when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

We tend to do two things when writing the ad copy for a Facebook ad, focus on local aspects, and focus on authenticity.

We emphasise our local pedigree when writing ad copy because it helps to build trust with potential sellers by showing that your dealership is a part of their community and that you are genuinely interested in buying their car.

Large car-buying sites, such as WeBuyAnyCar, also have a bad reputation and we can take advantage of this by pitching our local dealers as a friendly alternative.

Here are some examples of the ad copy we are using when running Facebook ads to buy cars for DLR car company:


Forget Phil Schofield, sell to me, your local dealer in Glasgow. Get a quote in 2 mins.

DLR Car Company is a local car dealer in Port Glasgow that provides a quick and easy quote. We beat the big car supermarkets on price, and our service is from local people. Get in touch today for a free quote!


Forget the big boys, sell your car to me and support your local dealership.

DLR Car Company is a local car dealer in Port Glasgow that provides a quick and easy quote. We beat the big car supermarkets on price, and our service is from local people. Get in touch today for a free quote!


What video is best to use when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

It's better to record a selfie video on a mobile phone for an ad because it gives a more authentic, personal and real feel, showing potential sellers that the dealership is relatable and trustworthy, rather than using a polished and stylized video made in a professional studio setup which might come across as impersonal.

We always recommend the owner of the business create a video of themselves, talking into the camera, in the most authentic and down-to-earth way.

This also helps us to experiment and find out what works because minimal investment, of both time and money, is required to create each video.

Here is an example of the video we were using for DLR car company. In our testing this style of video works best.


What targeting should be used when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

It's better to use broad targeting when setting up a Facebook ad to buy cars locally because it increases reach by targeting a wider audience and generates a higher volume of leads, therefore increasing the chances of finding potential sellers of the cars that you are looking to buy.

Targeting is an important aspect of a Facebook campaign but too much is made of the targeting options Facebook provides. The AI system that Facebook uses is good at finding customers for your business without too much intervention from you.

Fine-tuning the targeting, we find, does not provide better results. Removing all options and targeting a more general, "broad" audience in our experience gives cheaper leads and lower CPM (cost per 1000 impressions)

What form and landing page should be used when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

We use a chatbot-style form as a landing page to collect leads for the dealerships we work with. In our experience, this provides the best results.

You can also use a Facebook form (or form on facebook) which you can set up when designing the ad in the business manager. This has the added advantage of having auto-filled fields such as customer name, customer phone number, and email address, so the customer does not have to type as much.

Carefully designing the form is important when buying cars using Facebook ads because it can increase the chances of potential sellers submitting their information, as well as increase the chances of getting all necessary information from the seller.

A clear and easy-to-use form with minimal fields will help to make it more likely that the seller will complete it, and including all relevant fields such as contact information, car details, and desired selling price makes it easier for the dealership to follow up and evaluate the car.

An effective form design can improve the chances of getting the right car for the dealership and increase the chances of closing a deal.

What fields should be included in the form used to buy cars using Facebook ads?

At a minimum, we recommend capturing the following information from the customer:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Car registration
  • Make / Model / Colour (this can't always be inferred accurately from the registration)
  • Mileage
  • Year of manufacture
    This will be enough for you to underwrite a value for the car, without making the form too long and tedious to complete.

What call to action should be used when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

We use the "Get Offer" call to action. In our testing, this gives the best results.

A screenshot of a facebook ad headline showing the get offer call to action

What results can be expected when running a Facebook ad campaign to buy cars?

Here are some results that we can share from the campaign mentioned in this case study:

As of November 2022

A screenshot of a Facebook ad results for one day in January 2023

Ad Spend: £142.85

Leads: 45

Reach: 13,268

Cost per lead: £3.11

CPM (cost per 1000 impressions): £6.48

Click Through Rate: 2.45%

The dealership is very happy with these results and this has enabled them to grow the business by buying more cars privately, at much lower cost than they experienced using auctions.

Continuous improvement: How you can ensure your campaigns continue to generate results into the future

  1. A/B testing: It's important to A/B test ads to see which ad perform best, this way you can optimize ads for better performance, for example: you can test different headlines, images, ad copy and targeting options to see which works best for your dealership.
  2. Measuring and Analyzing: Regularly measuring and analyzing your campaign's performance will help you understand what's working, and what's not and make necessary adjustments to reach better results.

Conclusion: Increasing Inventory and Growing the Business through Facebook Ads

In conclusion, Facebook ads can be a powerful tool for used car dealerships looking to buy more cars from local sellers.

The most important aspects of a good campaign are the video and the landing page. Everything else can be experimented with and tested using A/B testing to improve results.

As seen in the case study of DLR Car Company, using Facebook ads can help small dealerships to grow their business and compete with larger dealerships.

However, It's important to remember that Facebook Ads is just one of the many ways to acquire cars and it's important to test and measure the results of different acquisition channels and find what works best for your dealership.

With the right strategies and techniques, Facebook ads can help dealerships increase their inventory and grow their business, ultimately leading to a more successful and profitable dealership.

About the author

A profile picture of Gary Lewis Cheetham, the founder of GL Digital Automotive Marketing, smiling outside a car dealership

Gary Lewis Cheetham is an automotive marketing specialist, born and raised in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Gary Lewis Cheetham is the founder of GL Digital Automotive Marketing. He spent his teenage years working at the family dealership after school, learning the ropes of the car trade from the inside out.

After moving on to working in marketing, Gary Lewis founded GL Digital in 2020 when he noticed a need for direct-to-consumer marketing platforms within the auto industry. He now strives every day to help independent dealers in the UK and US realise their potential. Gary also loves Formula 1 and motorsport.

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