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Top 5 Dealer Hacks of 2021

WHAT👏   A 👏  YEAR 👏  it has been. 2021 flew by, but before looking ahead to new tactics and strategies, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to reflect on some of the ways our amazing dealer partners got creative with the Dealer Inspire Connected Platform to move the needle during a very challenging year.

Teaming up with their DI Performance Managers, our clients did some serious outside-the-box thinking to really take the lemons that the inventory shortage and global pandemic gave us, to turn them into some pretty delicious (and strategic!) lemonade. Remember, these digital hack-tics came at no additional budget or cost — just pure creative and collaborative thinking. How cool is that? And the best news is that you can do it too. So without any further ado, here are the top five, peer-tested Dealer Hacks of 2021 that you can use to  jumpstart your 2022!

1. START TRADE-IN CONVERSATIONS FROM ANY LINK

With inventory being low, Delano Chevrolet Buick GMC wanted to make sure that every website visitor knew just how much they wanted to buy their car. In order to get that message out there, they used the Personalizer technology built into the Dealer Inspire Web Platform to create an experience where each visitor would be served a prominent message, on both desktop and mobile, prompting them to get an instant appraisal for their vehicle. 

And while that messaging and use of the Personalizer tech is great, Delano truly hacked the system by creating a special hyperlink in that message that when clicked, opens up the automated trade-in flow within Conversations. So instead of enticing a shopper with a highly actionable message only to take them to a long, outdated form to fill out (that the user will most likely abandon), they’re instead having a friendly trade-in conversation from the comfort of a familiar chat window.

We knew this would be one of our top Dealer Hacks of the year when after just a few weeks of being implemented, Delano Chevrolet Buick GMC saw an immediate 71% increase in Conversations conversions.

Impressive, huh? Talk about the power of using your digital platform to work harder and smarter with some simple changes to your homepage! Setting it up is dead easy too. You can actually take any element on your webpage, be it a text link, an image, or a CTA button, and code it to open the Trade-In flow within Conversations with just one click.

For visitors that are already on your website, use this code in your hyperlinks to start the Trade-In evaluation process:

<a onclick="DIConv.startConversationWithVisitorMessage('Value My Trade')">Value My Trade</a>

If you want to bring someone to your website from an external source, like an email or social ad, and automatically begin the Trade-In evaluation process on page load, then use this code:

https://[yoururl].com/?conversations_open=trade

Ditching forms and replacing them with chat based experiences that convert? I’ll call that a win all year long!

2. GET IN THEIR (APPLE) WALLET

The DI Wallet has long been a key feature of the Dealer Inspire Website Platform that allows your visitors to add service coupons to their Apple Wallet (Android too!) — complete with push notifications when the user drives through any number of geofences that you define.

Pretty cool tech for sure, but leave it to our clients to take it to the next level. Even though DI Wallet is really for digital fixed ops coupons, this past year we saw many of our dealer clients hack the tech and use it for their vehicle acquisition strategies as well!

It’s one of those things that’s genius in its simplicity. Instead of creating a service coupon, you create a Trade-In Bonus Coupon for whatever amount you want. From there you promote the offer with a VRP Banner or a Homepage Personalizer that is only displayed to users visiting your website using a mobile device. When they tap that banner or that message, they will have the option to add the coupon into their Apple Wallet. And when they do, you’ll now be embedded by their side in their most trusted device waiting to remind them of that trade-in offer whenever they should drive nearby your dealership.

These wallet passes are a snap to set up too in the backend of the Dealer Inspire website platform. Just simply navigate to the wallet section and the coupon creator tool makes it easy to see what you’re editing and how it will appear to your customers.

Reading this on your iPhone? Tap here to add this coupon to your Apple Wallet

3. CREATE A CUSTOM “0 SEARCH RESULTS” PAGE

In today’s world of limited inventory, it’s crucial that you don’t lead your website visitors to dead-ends on the vehicle search results pages. The last thing you want is a shopper feeling disappointed that you don’t have what they’re looking for, so they bounce from your site and head back to the search engines to continue their shopping journey with a competitor.

Land Rover Palm Beach and other Myers Auto Group stores understood the challenge and fought to engage more of their visitors on their website by customizing their “0 Search Results” inventory pages to make them stickier amidst the inventory shortage. With the help of the DI Solutions Engineers, this forward thinking auto group created a custom page with appealing imagery and custom language to inform shoppers of the global chip shortage, along with CTA’s to encourage the shopper to connect with their team via text, chat, or phone to discuss current availability, along with vehicles that were allocated and in-transit. 

The reality is that inventory is down for everyone, so it’s critical that you double down on selling your experience instead of the actual vehicle — which is exactly where this strategy comes in. You address the concern head-on by educating your shoppers about the shortage, and then you offer your services as the solution. Your friendly sales experts are there to be personal shoppers for your customers and aid them in finding their dream vehicle!

4. TAKE PRE-ORDERS WITH VIRTUAL INVENTORY

There’s certainly more than one way to hack around the lack of inventory. Our friends at Ens Toyota were selling their available and incoming inventory so quickly, they knew they needed to do something different to let customers know that their lot wasn’t as empty as it seemed. 

They opted to take a unique approach by creating virtual inventory for each of their most popular models and trim levels, with eye-catching pre-order badging. The benefit to adding virtual vehicles to your inventory feed is that shoppers are still able to explore those VDPs, and discover all there is to know about that vehicle — all while learning that your dealership has the ability to make the shopping experience a ton easier simply by placing an order with the manufacturer. 

If you like this inventory hack, it’s something that you can certainly implement at your dealership with the help of our team. Here’s what you do:

  1. Identify the models and trims you’d like to create virtual inventory for.
  2. In your IMS, create a fake VIN and stock number for each model and trim that you’d like to appear in your inventory feed.
  3. Create an eye catching main image for each vehicle that shows the vehicle, and also includes pre-order badging (see the example above).
  4. Upload your newly created main image to the appropriate virtual vehicle.
  5. Once complete, contact DI Support to map your newly created virtual inventory to the designated vehicle results pages. 

Because of variances between IMS’, you may want to start with creating one test vehicle first, and then working with the DI Support team to determine if there are any special needs required to successfully map the virtual vehicles in your IMS to your website. 

5. VEHICLE CONFIGURATOR FTW

While the global chip shortage carries on, it does seem that inventory levels will remain uncertain throughout 2022 and into 2023. Due to its prolonged nature, we have found that more and more customers are heading to Google to search for things like “Can I buy a car directly from the factory?”, or “Where can I order a car?”. To meet this kind of shopping intent, your website needs to be equipped to not just rank for those keywords, but to convert on those shoppers in a meaningful way. 

City Cadillac recognized this trend early on, and created an entire digital strategy predicated on driving traffic to the Vehicle Configurator tool on their website that sets up customers to build, price, and ultimately place an order for the vehicle of their dreams.

The messaging is consistent across homepage sliders, VRP Banners, and top level menu items to ensure every customer knows that “Building your next Cadillac has never been easier” #chefskiss. 

Want to know more about Vehicle Configurator? Check out this fresh DIHOWDOI that shows you the ins and outs of the new tool!

LET’S GET CREATIVE TOGETHER

The Dealer inspire Web Platform was built on WordPress for a reason. To empower dealers like you to innovate and create an online presence that serves the needs of your business. So whether you’re doing it yourself (which you totally can), or are working with your Performance Manager, there isn’t a better suited platform out there to bring your digital marketing strategies to life. Doesn’t that just hit ya in the warm and fuzzies?

But seriously, that’s what we want for all of you heading into 2022. Don’t accept the status quo. Shake things up. Push the limits and don’t be afraid to break things! Testing strategies during an uncertain time can feel like a big risk, but without that risk you wouldn’t have the big rewards! So bring it on, 2022, and let us help 😉

Do you have a Dealer Hack that you want to share with your peers in the industry? I’d love to hear all about it! Just shoot me an email, and it just might show up as one one of the top Dealer Hacks of 2022!

Want to roll with any of these hack-tics on your website? If you’re already a part of the DI family, simply reach out to your Performance Manager to discuss. Not a DI client? Drop us a line and let’s chat about how we can help you, today!

Let’s Chat


Katie Simon
High School English Teacher, turned Corporate Sales Trainer, turned Digital Strategist- Katie Simon has always had a thirst for knowledge and SHARING it with the world. Dealer Inspire's Brand Content Manager, Katie strives to provide up to the minute insights, strategies, and education to the organization as well as to the automotive community at large. As Dealer Inspire’s (self-proclaimed) Mascot, Katie knows the ins-and-outs of the DI ecosystem, and she reallllly loves talking about it. Like... REALLY REALLY.

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