Healy Brothers, an automotive group with nine retail locations in New York’s Hudson Valley, uses a multi-channel approach to customer engagement that includes a strong digital presence on many platforms.
“You can no longer rely on one platform to deliver a message, product or service to customers,” emphasizes Jay Healy, director of digital and social media for Healy Brothers Auto Group. “We need to meet our customers on all fronts, whether it’s SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.”
The 45-year-old car salesman relies on a strong online presence that includes websites that connect to social media. Healy Brothers maintains a presence on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
All platforms deliver results, but Jay points out that Pinterest delivers bottom-of-the-funnel buyers to his dealers, those consumers who show potential to buy but haven’t yet. “We found and established Pinterest as a new place to find buyers in the bottom of the funnel that other dealers are not using, giving us a competitive advantage,” he says.
It’s safe to call the Healy Brothers “the pioneers of Pinterest. Autogroup has taken part in the official Pinterest pilot program for car dealers from October to December 2021. It worked so well, says Jay: “Since then, we’ve continued to use Pinterest as part of our media mix and expanded our partnership to include additional strategies.”
The car group sold over 150 cars during the pilot and was able to track sales on Pinterest. “Through these sales, we expanded our strategy to include outreach campaigns and tracked a 43% reduction in cost per vehicle sold,” he says.
Healy Brothers is constantly looking for new opportunities for multi-channel advertising, but Jay admits the automotive group hasn’t always had Pinterest on their radar. Pinterest is the “go-to” place for decor, cooking, interior design, fashion and DIY projects, but it’s something no one would consider when shopping for a car, he explains.
Metrics tracking during the pilot quickly changed its mind. The dealership tracked metrics for all Pinterest ad campaigns through its ad system and offline sales through a conversion downloader. Evaluation of these metrics by the Pinterest and Dealers United teams showed that people come to Pinterest with a “buying mindset,” Jay says. “They’re specific about what they want to achieve, whether it’s in sales or service. Our clients on Pinterest are well-researched and have high sales rates.”
Kim Bloomer, Pinterest’s head of automotive, explains that Pinterest is a “house of discovery” where 100 million people “come” [every month] to find visual inspiration for all of life’s moments, whether it’s your next meal, your dream wedding or even the perfect new family car.”
That discovery leads to further consideration and purchase, Blomer adds, noting that Pinners are 63% more likely to say they made a car purchase based on content they saw on Pinterest, compared to people on other social media platforms.3
“People come to Pinterest with a shopping mindset,” Bloomer says. “They buy intentionally, buy more and have a larger basket size on average. Pinners spend twice as much as people on other platforms.4 So whether they’re coming in looking for a new car, furniture or cookware, we’re seeing strong purchase intent.”
In the automotive space, Pinterest’s research shows that consumers in the car shopping market use the platform to “get inspired, narrow down choices and help make a final purchase decision for their automotive needs.”3 In fact, seven out of 10 car shoppers on Pinterest use it to make their final purchase decision during their car shopping trip. 1
Bloomer adds, “Pinners also care about quality and are 30% more likely to spend on premium models or upgrades when shopping for a car.”5
Research shows that people experiencing a major event such as the birth of a child, marriage or moving house are 2.4 times more likely to buy a car. 2 This space offers the perfect place for dealerships to “present audiences with strong intent to purchase with a personalized message that resonates with them and the life moments they’re experiencing or planning,” Bloomer adds.
Every month, Pinterest reaches 10 million people who actively interact with automotive content and 18 million people who are looking for a new car. 2 “In 2021, we saw one in four Pinners engaging with automotive content, and that Pinners are 23% more likely than non-Pinterest users to research a car online before making a purchase,” Bloomer says.5
Male Pinners represent a high-intent audience that is highly engaged in car shopping. Auto is one of the top indexing categories for men. “They’re 30% more likely to be interested in a car than men who don’t use Pinterest,” Bloomer says. “They are also 40% more likely to plan to buy a car in the next six months than men who don’t use Pinterest.”6
How Pinterest works
Pinterest makes it easy for advertisers to access merchant Pinners with three key elements:
- Catalogs are a foraging tool.
- Product Pins (Organic) – A Pin format created using a feed or saved as a Rich Pin.
- Trade Ads – The feed-based advertising version of Product Pins.
Auto dealers can upload their new vehicle inventory feed directly to their Pinterest Ads Manager account, which automatically generates pins. They can then promote the product pins as trade ads to reach Pinners who are actively looking for new vehicles in their area.
In a Pinterest pilot, Healy Brothers uploaded their entire car inventory to a catalog to showcase on Pinterest.
Healy Bros’ media agency, Dealers United, coordinated the entire project, working with both parties to upload the car group’s inventory and turn it into “Item Pins” that include photos of the cars and details such as vehicle description, price and availability.
Auto Group relies on Pinterest’s product feature to automatically download inventory data every 24 hours to always keep inventory up-to-date. Initial submission may take up to 48 hours. After that, each update happens every 24 hours.
Jay explains, “The Pinterest catalog feature works by automatically syncing new inventory for each of our stores to their Pinterest profiles. This way we can reach buyers with affordable inventory. The catalog is updated every 24 hours to ensure that the inventory we display on Pinterest is actually available in our lots.”
The whole process runs smoothly, he adds, noting that the Dealers United team handled the entire setup, which took just a few days. The process involved placing the Pinterest tag and event pixels on their websites and uploading a vehicle inventory feed. Synchronization is now automatic.
“It’s no secret that there is a shortage of automotive products on the modern market,” he says. “Auto-uploading our inventory every 24 hours ensures that people on Pinterest only see the inventory we have.”
Tips for success
Jay encourages all dealers to take Pinterest for a test drive. He calls it “an underutilized platform in the dealership space. It opened the door to new opportunities and audiences with the intent and means to purchase a car,” he says.
But it’s not just that if you build it, they will come. Dealerships must tailor messages to the audience. Jay explains, “Make sure the message and artwork speaks to the audience you hope to reach. The SUV’s third-row seating information may appeal to families, while the towing capability may matter more to outdoor enthusiasts. We always design messages with the target audience in mind. We never send general messages.’
Jay also emphasizes that success comes through teamwork. It is important to be in sync with the internal team. “Our team at Healy Brothers understands the importance of digital advertising,” he says. “We work together to bounce ideas off each other, try new things, or try new user content to increase engagement.”
It’s time to test out new social media platforms, and Jay says Pinterest is a great place to start. Consumers spend hours every day on their phones using various social channels. “If you’re not meeting the customer through one of these channels, your message isn’t getting through to them effectively,” he concludes.
Ronnie Wendt is the editor of Auto Dealer Today.