Why QR Codes Are Finally Ready For Prime Time

February 15th, 2023 by

Let’s take a little trip back in time. The year was 2012, and as a part of our dealership’s setup at a local summer festival, we were going to give away the hot, new iPad2 to generate more hand-raiser leads than ever using a QR Code.

QR Code on a sign

What actually happened though was we spent way too much time educating people on what that giant, blocky black and white code on the sign was and the app they needed to install on their phone to scan it.

It was like working at the Apple Genius Bar…but only in 90 degree heat…and with people who didn’t really want to be there. 

It turned out that people really only wanted to enter to win the iPad if they could do so quickly and easily. Like, you know…by writing their name, email address, and phone number on a little slip of paper and then jamming it into a cardboard box.

No one wanted to download a special app (over a 3G cellular network) just to scan a weird looking code thingy and then have to type their name, email address, and phone number on a tiny virtual keyboard. Who had time for that?!

I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet

Looking back on it all these years later, I think it’s pretty clear why this promo didn’t work as intended:

  • The smartphone was barely 5 years old, and only 45% of adults actually owned one.
  • Those who had a smartphone saw it as device of utility — not necessity.
  • There was too much friction in the digital experience compared to the traditional one.

So after that weekend long experience of #qrcodefail, my main takeaway was utilizing QR Codes in your digital marketing strategy may have been the right idea, but it was definitely the wrong time. 


Fast forward to today and things are different now, aren’t they? 94% percent of adults between the ages of 18-49 now own a smartphone. In just a few short years our phones have become physical extensions of our bodies that we can’t live without. 

but your kids are gonna love it

Ten years ago, if I realized that I left the house without my phone, I would have been like “oh well, whatever”. If that were to happen today? Yeah…I’d freak out, and I’m guessing you would too.  

So say what you want about the early days of QR Codes, but you can’t deny the fact that they laid the groundwork for some of the tech that’s been implemented inside of today’s most popular apps. 

Scanning a digital code with our phone is now near ubiquitous thanks to apps like Venmo, Spotify, and SnapChat where sending come cash, loading up a playlist, or adding a friend is as simple as pointing your phone at a code. 

#ProTip: Quickly create and customize QR Codes that include your logo and brand colors at

Then there’s the game changing fact that your phone’s naitive camera app can now instantly recognize a QR Code and prompt you to visit the encoded destination all on its own.

Scanning a QR Code using the Android Camera App

Also, like many other aspects of our lives, COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of technology and irrevocably changed consumer behavior. Today, it’s hard to go somewhere and not see a QR Code — they’re everywhere. From Home Depot to Taco Bell, businesses big and small are using QR Codes to direct people to schedule an appointment, order online, download an app, and so much more. 

And you know something has gone mainstream when you see it on a Super Bowl commercial. Coinbase spent $13 million dollars on a 60 second spot that showed nothing more than a QR Code sailing across the screen. Not talking cats. Not expensive celebrities. Just a colorful, blocky code paying homage to the classic DVD screensaver of yesteryear.

That QR Code alone drove over 20 million users to the Coinbase website within that one minute where users were able to claim $15 in free bitcoin for signing up. The traffic and brand awareness benefits alone makes this a #qrcodewin!

If you’re still uncertain about the power of QR Codes, consider this: As of Chrome version 85, creating a QR Code has become a standard feature of the world’s most widely-used web browser. You simply right-click on any web page and select ‘Create QR code for this page’. It’s as easy as two clicks — making QR Code generation more accessible and convenient than ever.


If you’re ready to revisit the idea of using QR Codes at your dealership, I’ve put together a few creative ways that you can incorporate them into your shopping experience and marketing materials to drive engagement with your customers. 


You could create and print QR Codes to place on the vehicles in your showroom so that when scanned would do any number of things, like open a:

QR Code being scanned in a car dealership showroom
  • Digital brochure for that vehicle
  • Video review or walkaround of that model
  • Video highlighting an F&I product or available accessories
  • Model landing page on your website
  • VDP for that specific vehicle
  • VRP with available inventory for that model


Sometime shoppers just feel more comfortable wandering your lot before coming inside the showroom, or prefer to take a look at your inventory after hours and on weekends.

Scanning a QR Code on a vehicle on a car dealers lot

Just because these folks are out there alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t virtually be there to greet them. You could certainly use the showroom QR Codes above on the vehicles on your lot — or you could take it up a notch and provide the casual tire-kicker with an even better experience by providing a(n):


While we all understand the importance of reviews and the role they play in helping other shoppers choose to work with your dealership over your competition, you may not realize how review recency plays a factor in calculating your overall review score. 

QR Code on a business card

The short version is that as reviews age, they become less relevant to shoppers. So it’s not how many total reviews you have that matters most — it’s how often you’re getting reviews. Printing and placing review reminders on the desks of your salespeople and finance managers is an easy way to utilize QR Codes that lead to the specific, positive outcome of increasing your review velocity.

Now, it’s cool if you want to create a QR Code that will take someone directly to Google or DealerRater to leave their review. But it’s always good to have an even distribution of reviews on all the various platform. So a better idea would be to actually create a landing page that contains links to all the platforms where you have a review presence on your website. Then you can use that url to power your QR Code so that when scanned, people can then select their favorite review platform such as Google, Facebook, DealerRater, or Yelp.


While QR Codes can definitely play a role in keeping your in-store customers engaged, you can also incorporate them into your traditional marketing channels to drive digital engagement.

For example, if you’re sending a direct mail piece with service coupons to your customers, include a QR Code that links to your service scheduler to easily generate appointments.

For any print advertising you run, support your vehicle acquisition efforts by using a QR Code to open up the trade-in experience on your website.

You can even empower your salespeople to include a QR Code on their business cards that would link to their personal profile page on DealerRater that highlights their personal reviews.


And to take this post full circle, you can (and should) use QR Codes just like we did back in the day in your grassroots marketing to drive sign ups for a giveaway or to create brand awareness in your community. And you don’t even need to go all Coinbase and spend $13 million to do it!

If you’re like most dealerships, I’m willing to bet you sponsor your local 4th of July fireworks, the high school football team, a local festival, and/or maybe even a farmer’s market, right?

How about using a QR code on your signage or handouts for a free carwash for everyone at the event? Or maybe 10% off their first oil change or service appointment?

Today all the barriers have been removed, and using a QR Code in your grassroots marketing efforts is a great way to get new folks engaged with your dealership while also showcasing all the good you do within your community.


While there are plenty of paid QR Code apps that you can use to track the number of scans each of your codes get, there’s an easy (and better) way to track them for fee. Since you can take any text string and turn it into a QR Code, that means you can also incorporate UTM Codes for those times when you want to take a visitor to a landing page on your website. It might look something like this:

Then you just copy that link, and paste it into the QR Code generator of your choosing. Each time that code is scanned, you’ll be able to see those visits within Google Analytics 4, and how they led to real conversions on your website. It’s a simple way to track how often your QR Codes are being scanned and which experiences your customers are finding to be the most “scan worthy”.

We’re always up for talking about creative ways to help our clients upgrade their digital marketing game. Want to talk about QR Codes or any other digital marketing strategies and tactics? Just give us a shout!

Let’s Talk Strategy

Defining Your Dealership’s Digital Road to the Sale

May 17th, 2022 by

The Road to the Sale has been the blueprint for sales success in the car biz since…well…forever. However, there’s one little problem with this process — it can’t start until you have a customer standing right there with you in your showroom.

The last few years have put the dealership experience under a spotlight, as the pandemic and inventory shortage forced you to fundamentally adapt your approach to customer service. As more people than ever look to complete most of their car shopping process on your website — not in your showroom — how do you ensure that you are giving the same great customer experience that leads a shopper to making a purchase decision without ever actually speaking to them?

The great news is that it’s not as tricky as it sounds. You can meet your customers where they are by harnessing your digital ecosystem to create a modern retail experience that seamlessly moves people further down the path to purchase. Having the right tools and tech on your website is just the first step. To truly turn your platform into a deal closing machine, you’ll need to define your Digital Road to the Sale.

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that while we’re aligning each step of the in-store Road to the Sale process with its digital counterpart, we must acknowledge than in no way is the Digital Road to the Sale linear, so please keep that in mind.


Step 1: The Meet & Greet

As you probably know, the first step to the in-store sales process is the Meet & Greet. This is pretty simple right? This is moment when a salesperson and customer meet for the first time on the lot or in the showroom and engage in some small talk (what brought you in today?).

What you may not realize is the online version of the Meet & Greet begins with your dealership’s advertising and digital marketing efforts, and continues on your website through your related content and tools that effectively becomes your “why buy” message that encourages a shopper to choose you as their dealership.

You can also make digital introductions to your team by showcasing your top-rated salespeople on your VDPs using Salesperson Connect from DealerRater®. This allows shoppers to choose who they want to work with at your dealership when they’re ready to make the transition from online to in-store.


Step 2: The Needs Analysis

After the Meet & Greet, the next step is the Needs Analysis. But with the online version of this step, the customer isn’t answering a salesperson’s questions — instead they’re on your website engaging with your inventory, answering their “Can I Afford It?” question with Online Shopper, or maybe even customizing a specific vehicle they want to order.

While all the steps to the sale are important, this one is crucial because if a visitor can’t quickly and easily answer their own most important questions about pricing, options and availability, then they’re just going to bounce from your website and continue their search with a competitor.


Step 3: The Walk Around

As you’ve seen so far, there is a 1:1 offline to online correlation for each step of the Road to the Sale, including the Walkaround. This time tested step is still recommended by sales managers all across the country, and you don’t have to retire it simply because much of the process has moved online.

Instead, just take advantage of the technology you already at your disposal here, such as engaging shoppers in a live video chat using Conversations, or texting your leads pre-recorded videos via Automatic. Whether you’re showing them a fresh new vehicle that just hit the lot, or you’re reviewing the ordering process for a similar unit, you can show off the vehicle while providing an unexpected level of customer service all at the same time.


For the in-store process, The Walkaround is important because it’s meant to ensure that the salesperson has selected the proper vehicle for the customer that meets their stated needs, wants, and desires before taking it out for a test drive. And today you can accomplish the same thing with video.

The typical modern car shopper now watches 19 videos prior to making a vehicle purchase — the vast majority of which are review style videos. So you can easily accomplish this step online by sending your prospects test drive and review videos — or simply follow the path of many forward thinking dealerships and offer at-home test drives whenever possible. Because more often than not, a shopper needs to actually get behind the wheel of a car before they commit to the purchase.


With the digital version of the Road to the Sale, the Trade-In Offer is self-guided by the consumer on your website and is often the first thing they’ll do prior to engaging with your inventory.

Just like how the car shopping experience in general has changed over the past few years, so has the way you’re able to handle trade-ins on your website. For nearly two decades dealers relied on an assortment of trade-in “widgets” embedded on their website to collect information about a shopper’s vehicle, and then return a ballpark estimated value based on the data entered.

While giving your shopper an “idea” of what their car “might” be worth on your website used to be the best you could do, the trade-in tech now available from Accu-Trade allows you to go beyond the guess and present your website visitors with the exact amount you’ll give them for their vehicle, guaranteed!

When you present your shoppers with a firm number for their trade-in that they can count on, that’ll build the confidence needed to continue shopping with you, and not your competitors.


Step 6: The Numbers Presentation

The digital equivalent of the Numbers Presentation — which normally follows the test drive during the in-store process — probably already happened on your website before you even connected with your customer via chat, text or email.

It’s important that we don’t understate how the vast majority of car shoppers need to understand if they can afford their vehicle of interest in a meaningful and relevant way prior to contacting a dealership.

Your modern retailing experience is positioned to facilitate the Numbers Presentation in the Digital Road to the Sale process. Giving your customers the ability to be in control of the experience, and manipulate the terms and numbers to their liking is critical to converting shoppers into buyers.

STEP 7: F & I

Step 7: F& I

There are two parts to the traditional, in-store F&I process: The credit approval, and the product presentation. With the technology that’s available to dealers today, you can extend the capabilities of your F&I office onto your digital platform to incorporate both experiences.

What once was accomplished with pen and paper during the in-store Road to the Sale process can now can take place online with our (no-cost) instant financing technology, powered by your preferred lenders to accelerate the buying experience and increase profitability.

Also, take advantage of the opportunity to make your F&I products available as upgrades within your modern retailing solution. Giving customers the ability to discover what those additional warranties and coverages are, why they’re important, and how for just a few dollars more a month they can add valuable layers of protection to their vehicle, provides the affordability transparency that shoppers want.


Step 8: Delivery

When it comes time to finalize purchase and take delivery, there are going to be a few docs that require a wet signature, so the digital version of this step would be allowing your customers to schedule a convenient at-home delivery experience.

Remember, the goal of a modern retailing experience isn’t just to “get a lead”, it’s to make your entire digital platform more transactional. Recent consumer sentiment is also showing that this is exactly the type of experience they want when buying a car.

61% of recent car buyers said they would want their newly purchased car delivered at home from their local dealership.

DealerRater consumer survey Sept. 2020

And let’s face it, as car dealers you rely on word of mouth advertising, and what could be better than you happy customers telling telling their neighbors, friends, and co-workers. “I just bought a car totally online. Never had to visit the dealership, and they just made it so easy!”. It’s priceless, right?


Step 9: Follow-Up

Effectively following up with your customers during and after the sale is a critical piece of the Digital Road to the Sale. Not only will it help you close more deals, but it can also lead to higher customer satisfaction scores and long term loyalty.

When it comes to your follow up strategy, if you want to maintain regular contact with your customers, sending text messages is going to be much more effective compared to emailing or calling. The reality is that 94% of people won’t answer a phone call coming from a number they don’t recognize1, and 74% of people say they want to receive more text messages from businesses2.

Whether you’re actively engaged with in-market shoppers helping them narrow down their choices, or you’re checking in with your sold customers to make sure they’re loving their new ride — you can use Automatic to follow up with all of your hottest leads at once via text.

Of course when you’re texting your sold customers, don’t forget to ask them to leave a review for your dealership. Fresh reviews that show other shoppers how your personalized, helpful, and convenient online car buying experience is so great, is often times all it takes to win them over.

1 Hiya State of the Phone Call Report, 2021
2 20 Texting Stats That Prove Businesses Should Use SMS, Zipwhip May 2021


Want to learn more about creating your Digital Road to the Sale process, along with tips to making the entire experience easy for both you and your customers? Check out our Online to the Sale on Inspire+ where you’ll get all that and more.

Also, if you’re ready to talk about how our website, modern retailing, and messaging platforms can work for you — just drop us a line!

Let’s Talk Strategy

Top 7 Dealer Hacks of 2021

January 13th, 2022 by

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.

We were so impressed with how these digital hack-tics were implemented to optimize our client’s digital platforms, we just had to show some off LIVE on Inspire+. The show is called Dealer Hackers, and you can watch it on demand right now.


And whether you’re watching the show or reading this guide, 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 seven, peer-tested Dealer Hacks of 2021 that you can use in 2022 and beyond!


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:


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


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


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!


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. 


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!


One of the newest features of Conversations is the ability for dealers to create and display their own proactive greetings to their website visitors after a predetermined period of time has elapsed.

Our client at Advantage Auto Direct is a bilingual dealer, and they really wanted to encourage their Spanish speaking community to engage with their own Spanish speaking team members via chat.

To do so, they created a proactive greeting in Conversations to let shoppers know that whether they speak English or Spanish, they can connect with their team to get their questions answered in whatever language they’re most comfortable using.

Since implementing the bilingual greeting, Advantage Auto Direct is now answering 10% of their chats in Spanish, compared to less than 1% of chats prior.

What makes this hack even better is that your team doesn’t even have to speak a multiple languages in order to use it. Because Conversations speaks 52 different languages all on its own, you can use the included In-Chat Translations feature to instantly translate both incoming and outgoing messages in real-time, giving you the ability to communicate with your shoppers in their native language.


In today’s environment, car dealerships (like most other businesses) have many job openings across all departments that they’d like to fill with qualified candidates.

Our client at Kelowna Nissan is no different, and they wanted a way to manage their own job postings on their website. So we came up with a solution to hack the blog that’s a part of their Dealer Inspire website which would allow the dealership’s HR Manager to do just that.

This is a pretty simple trick if you want to try it out as well. All you need to do is create a new blog post for each of your open job positions, and include all the relevant information, along with a link for candidates to actually apply for the job. Once all of the content is in place, you assign it a specific category, like Careers, and publish it to your website.

From there you simply create a new Careers landing page and include a special shortcode that will populate the page with all of the published blog posts matching that category. For example, if you call your category Careers, the shortcode would look like this:

[di_posts category_name="Careers"]

The advantage here is now you have a centralized landing page on your website to highlight all of your current job openings, but you can now also use that page along with those individual career posts in your content marketing strategy to help spread the word about your open positions.


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

The Customer Follow-Up Strategy That’s Off The Hook

November 30th, 2021 by

Remember how exciting phone calls used to be? When the landline phone would ring (here’s a concept) … we would answer it. No second thoughts, no hesitations — even before Caller ID was a thing.

 “May I ask who is calling?” was a normal form of phone etiquette, and even if the person on the other end of the line was trying to sell you something, you’d wait until they stopped talking and politely say “no thank you” before hanging up the phone. 

But you don’t need to watch an episode of The Newlead Game® to know that phone calls are now just about the least popular thing to do with our phones.

The increased volume of spam, scam, and robocalls spoofing local phone numbers certainly is a big contributing factor to the dramatic shift in user behavior. So much so that Hiya, in their recent State of the Phone Call Report, revealed that 94% of people won’t answer their phone if it’s coming from an unknown or unidentified phone number. 

So what exactly does that mean for you and your team? Well it means that if the first step in your dealership’s process after receiving a new lead is to pick up the phone and call, then your chances of actually talking to that prospect are pretty slim. So maybe calling isn’t the best first step?


Like it or not, just like the use of a landline, gone are the days of the cold follow-up call. Your customers prefer to be contacted via text. In fact, 74% of consumers say they’d like to receive more text messages from businesses1.

So not only are your customers expressing they want to receive your text messages, but they’ll actually read your message (and presumably respond to it) FASTER than if you called and left a voicemail.

So only the question left is: how do you future-proof your follow-up process using text messages?

Well, the art of texting (yes, it is an art!) really comes down to keeping things friendly, helpful, and most importantly — fast. Communicating via text message is great, but the moment that you become too “pushy” or even not fast enough to respond, you can get a customer to ghost you just as quickly as you had them drop into your CRM as a lead. 

Consider these tips when texting your customers:

Keep texts friendly and to the point: Include a brief introduction, but also keep the conversation moving ahead so they’ll want to stay engaged with you. Are there other trim levels that they could be interested in as well? Is the vehicle they’re interested in a high demand unit that would necessitate acting quickly?

Pique their curiosity with smart questions: When you ask relevant questions, you’ll start building trust and establishing a connection. So asking a question like “How time sensitive is your need for a new vehicle? Do you have to have it this week, or are you flexible because customers who place pre-orders are able to save an additional $1,000. What do you think?”. You may want to also mention any conditional rebates they may qualify for such as military or college grad. 

Talk about their trade: Everyone is saying that they will offer top dollar for a trade-in these days. One way you can set yourself apart is getting that process started before they even walk in to the dealership. Text them a link that’ll open up the automated trade-in flow within Conversations and let them know they can get an estimated value for their vehicle in less than a minute.  

While we strongly encourage you to text your customers, we should note that you and your team should not be texting them from your personal devices. With risks ranging from lack of oversight into messages being sent, to potential legal issues related to lack of opt-in and opt-out mechanisms, make sure your team has a texting tool (and training!) in place before fully update your follow-up strategy.

Send and receive rich media SMS Text Messages right from the Conversations dashboard.

The good new is, if you already use our advanced messaging platform, Conversations, then you already have the tech you need to (safely and legally) follow up with any lead, regardless of source, via text.


Having a modern, end-to-end retailing experience is critical in today’s world because when it comes to car shopping, people don’t just add a vehicle to their cart and buy with one click like it’s some toaster on Amazon.

Shoppers still need your team’s expertise in exploring and discussing their options prior to making a purchase. So we want to challenge you to think differently about the sales opportunities that come from your digital retailing solution, and handle them differently than you would from any other lead that lands into your CRM.

Think about it. Why are your visitors using the available tools on your website in the first place? There could be (and are) a myriad of reasons, but what it really comes down to is being able to answer the all important “Can I Afford It?” question, and to ultimately save time spent at the dealership.

So the trick to successful follow-up is understanding where the lead originated from on your website, and then reaching out in a way that is a natural continuation of where the shopper left off.

That’s why it’s imperative you handle your digital retailing leads differently than you would a lead that originated from a form based CTA. The last thing you want to do is invalidate all of the time the customer invested up front to understand their payment options and save time, by relying on an automated email sent from your CRM saying something like, “thanks for submitting your information! What kind of vehicle are you looking for? One of our friendly team members will be in contact with you shortly!”.

Yeah, no. That’s a surefire way to scare your customers off forever.

You don’t need to overthink your follow-up here. Just stay focused on how you can help these customers save time. So don’t let your CRM email them, text them yourself! Introduce yourself as their personal shopper who’s going to make the entire process fast, easy, and fun. And don’t be afraid to step up your customer service game by texting something like, “I’ve got the 2022 Honda Accord you were exploring washed and pulled up to the front of the lot ready for a test drive for you! When can you come in?” And maybe even include a photo!

In other words — as much as you can — acknowledge that what they were doing on your website was received, and you’re there to keep things moving forward. Your customers will appreciate it!

While texting and digital retailing go hand in hand, if your solution doesn’t seamlessly integrate the two, then it’s going to be really challenging to maintain consistent contact with all of those sales opportunities.

That’s why we build not just texting capabilities into Online Shopper, but also the power to virtually desk all of your deals. So whether you’re working 1-on-1 with a customer, or are engaged with multiple shoppers at the same time, you have the ability to save your customers (and yourself!) even more time by collaborating on the details of their purchase, and also keep them engaged with text messages that include a magic link that’ll bring them right back to their digital garage on your website.

And speaking of saving time, it’s not just your customers who’ll appreciate having some of their life back. You’ll save yourself some time to when you bulk text your customers with the same message, while also providing each recipient a unique link back to their digital garage to continue their shopping journey.


It’s really not a secret as to why texting is so effective in following up with your customers. Not only is it the way consumers prefer to communicate today, but it truly is the way personal relationships are built. It’s much easier to create a 1:1 connection via text than it is through an awkward phone call (assuming you can even get someone to answer the phone).

Think about it like this…the car business has always been a people business. A shopper can’t buy a car without your help, and you can’t sell a car without a shopper to purchase it. So why wait for a website visitor to reach out to you, when your team can proactively greet each and every visitor to your website and encourage that connection?

You can do just that with Salesperson Connect from DealerRater® which allows your customers to create 1:1 connections with your top-rated salespeople right from your VDPs. Giving your customers the ability to choose who they want to work with at your dealership creates that instant connection, and practically guarantees your salespeople will be able to connect with each customer since they’re the ones who chose you.


But even if you 100% agree that calling may not be the most effective way to make contact with a new sales opportunity, for a lot of dealerships — maybe even yours — making that call is still the required first method of outreach. 

If that’s the case, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. You just want to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to have your phone call answered by understanding how you show up on your prospect’s phone when you call. 

Are you appearing as an unknown caller, or do you show up as the friendly neighborhood car dealer whose website they just used to explore payment options on a new vehicle?

What I mean by that is oftentimes a business’ phone system is an interconnected network of individual phone #’s which weren’t necessarily programmed with a proper Caller ID. So while your dealership’s main phone number properly identifies itself to other phones, the lines that your BDC agents and salespeople use to make their followup calls may not. 

So before you make your next phone call, go to and enter in each of your outbound phone numbers to see if there is a proper Caller ID associated with those lines. 

If your dealership’s name is returned (note that Caller ID’s are limited to 15 total characters) then you’re good to go. But if just a City and State is returned, you now know that your phone calls have been a part of those that 94% of people won’t answer. 

Discover how you show up with

Now don’t worry if your outbound numbers aren’t programmed with a Caller ID, because you can fix it. All you have to do is reach out to your telephone provider and let them know which of your outbound lines you need to change the Caller ID on. They’ll be able to program that for you, and you’ll increase the chances of your phone calls actually being answered. 

Just don’t get discouraged if your phone calls still aren’t picked up. While your gift of gab may be obsolete over the phone these days, know that with a little upfront texting, you can win your customers over by communicating the way they prefer and get them into the dealership so you can create a customer-for-life level bond.

Are you ready to embrace the text-first mindset to future-proof your follow up and make more meaningful connections? Drop us a line, we’d be happy to show you how!


120 Texting Stats That Prove Businesses Should Use SMS | Zipwhip May 2021

5 ‘Ship Tips For Building Serious Long Term Loyalty

October 13th, 2021 by

So, you’ve won over the customer of your dreams. They are smart, easy going, funny…and you’ve already put their birthday in your calendar to remember to text them on their special day. But what if we told you that there’s only a 1 in 3 chance that they will be loyal to you when it comes to their NEXT car buying relationship?  💔 🥺 😭

I don’t know about you, but to me…that really hurts. Why does having a meaningful relationship with your customers have to be so hard? 

Building a loyal customer base, like any true relationship, can be tricky, and a ton of factors are at play here. When you’re only buying a car every 3-8 years, most people want to at least explore their options out there, especially if there’s been a change to their lifestyle during that time.

Think about it like this: Each time a shopper enters the market, it’s sort of like using a dating app — does this vehicle fit my standards? Does it come with all the features I need? Will it let me pick the Spotify playlist on a road trip? 

And while an in-market shopper might feel loyalty to their current vehicle model, make, or OEM — maintaining a connection with your dealership falls squarely on your shoulders. So how do you earn their loyalty and develop a long lasting relationship?


The first thing you can (and should) do is watch our recent webinar, How to Achieve Next Level Loyalty. Our team of experts will show you how you can build a retention marketing machine across channels to efficiently keep more of your own customers, and drive more reliable revenue.

But if you’re more of a reader than a watcher, keep reading for our best tips that’ll help you build serious relationships with your customers starting today.


We know how much effort you put into each and every deal from the first lead all the way up through delivery, so seeing only about a third of them come back is worse than a breakup. 

Now before you decide it’s a good idea to stand outside of your customer’s window in the rain holding up a boombox…let’s talk about what it really takes to create a loyal customer for life. 

When you look at the Loyalty Equation above, you’ll see that building a loyal customer base goes beyond just providing a great in-store customer experience on the showroom floor or in the service department. 

It’s the other half of that equation — your marketing and your brand communications — that allows you to actually strengthen the connections with your customers to keep them engaged with your brand. 

I’m just going to assume that your CSI scores for your dealership’s in-store sales and service experiences are top notch. Where I really want to focus is on how you can improve your marketing and communications with your customers in a way that’ll make them brag to their best friends about your relationship and scribble “Katie’s Kia” (in hearts, of course) on their notebooks.


I know you might be old fashioned like me, and you like to actually use your phone to make…well…phone calls. It pains me to say this *sigh* but nobody will answer their phone anymore if they don’t know who’s calling. So instead of experiencing that rejection of leaving message after message on your customer’s voicemail and never getting a call back — engage them with a text message instead! 

Not only are you more likely to make that connection, but you’re actually communicating with your customers in a way that they wish more businesses would. You’re showing that you’re laid back and there to help them on their terms.

And I’m not just talking about following-up with new sales leads. At Dealer Inspire we encourage dealers to take a text-first communications approach with our solutions throughout their customer service.

Have a customer’s car in your service bay and you need to explain an issue that your tech found when performing a multi-point inspection? Text your customer a video to show them the issue, explain the fix, and break down how much it will cost to perform the repair (or how much you’d give them for it in trade value). Handling a touchy situation like this in a personal way is going to lead to more closed RO’s than a voicemail ever could.

Want to increase your lease retention? You can use Online Shopper to proactively connect with your previously sold customers who have soon-to-mature leases. Just text them a reminder with a “magic link” to instantly open their personalized digital garage, filled with a few upgrade options for their next vehicle. Check it out.

The long and short of it is that your text game has to be strong if you want to keep your customers engaged, happy, and only thinking about you when it comes to all of their vehicle needs. So embrace it, and use the tools you have at your disposal to nurture those customer relationships!


I think by now we all know how important having fresh reviews are. We’ve even dedicated a most excellent webinar to the subject. While providing a review-worthy experience at your dealership is the foundation of any great relationship, that review won’t mean as much if you don’t take the time to respond to it. 

You see, when you respond to a review, you’re not only letting your customer know that their experience meant something to you too, but it also solidifies your connection for future appointments all while showing in-market shoppers the kind of customer service they can expect when choosing to work with your dealership.

And what you say in your review responses is super-important too, as 71%1 of shoppers are more likely to buy from a business who responds to their reviews.

And since your review responses are pretty much open love letters to your customers that everyone is going to see, you really should make your replies stand out. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Be Genuine: Be a human being with emotions, not a cold-hearted copy & paste robot. Address your customer by name. Write a thoughtful response, and show them that you care about their experience as much as they do.
  • Acknowledge Their Unique Experience: Every shopper’s journey is different. By writing a response that’s specific to to the reviewer, it will show the world what a great listener you are. And who doesn’t want to work with someone who listens?
  • Sign Off With Your Name & Title: A great tip for any relationship, be it business or personal, is to just be yourself! Always sign your reply with your own name and title so shoppers know that there are great people behind your brand that they can work with to buy their next vehicle.

Follow those simple tips, and you’ll be giving your future customers an early case of the butterflies that’ll push your dealership to the top of their list. 

That said, I know responding to each of your reviews across platforms for all of your dealerships is time consuming, but don’t all lasting relationships take time and effort? 

The good news is that unlike a personal relationship, there’s a tool you can use to ensure that all of your reviews are being responded to in a timely manner by real people. With AutoResponse™ from DelaerRater®, a team of real-life expert reputation management specialists will personally respond to every review for you to help you build your brand loyalty, show future shoppers your great customer service, and give you back valuable time to focus on the experience that generates your great reviews in the first place.


The best relationships are the ones where there is open and honest communication. If you’re only texting your customer when you need something from them (like their trade-in) or when there’s an open recall on their vehicle, then you’ll be in serious danger of your customer forgetting who you even are and all the special times you already had. 

It’s imperative that you’re not a stranger in the months and years between service visits and purchases. But if you over-text your customers, you’ll be at risk for being left on ‘delivered’ forever. So what’s a car dealer to do?

For those times when you need to stay in touch, you can use automated email drip campaigns that spring into action the day a vehicle is sold, allowing you to deliver personalized reminders and offers throughout the ownership cycle.

For example, let’s look at Doreen Green here. She just purchased a 2021 Ford Edge, and you want to make sure you’re able to predict her vehicular wants and needs throughout the ownership experience.

To do that, you’d create a series of emails that would be sent from your CRM are timed to specific events or milestones of her ownership experience. For example, here is what a 36 month drip campaign could look like: 

  • DAY 2: Thank You Email From The Owner
  • DAY 7: Review Reminder
  • DAY 30: Intro to Service
  • 6 MONTHS: 7,500 Mile Service
  • 12 MONTHS: 15,000 Mile Service
  • 22 MONTHS: Check Your Tires
  • 30 MONTHS: Replenish Your Fluids
  • 36 MONTHS: Trade-In Outreach

Now, you can go longer than 36 months. What you see above is just an idea to get you started. But you know what’s an even better idea??

We went ahead and created fully customizable drip campaign templates that you can download and tailor for use in your own CRM. Just fill in some blanks, tweak the copy to fit your dealership, and you’ll be getting your first drip campaigns set up in no time!


As you’re customizing these email templates, keep in mind that you want to personalize them for the customer. Don’t make them feel like they are just another customer in some CRM on some email list… Make them feel special! Valued! Like a VIP!!! 🤩

Your CRM probably lets you include a {{first_name}} variable in the subject line and email copy, so make sure you’re doing that for all of your outbound email campaigns to get a boost in your open and conversion rates. 

And lastly, you’ll want to create 1:1 conversation starters in your copy, and include clear CTA’s so your customers know exactly what to do next. The last thing you want to do is have your customer scratching their head wondering what your email was all about and then clicking that unsubscribe button because they just can’t take your awkward email blasts any more. 


Let’s not lose sight of the fact that only 36%2 of customers stay loyal to the dealership they bought their car from, and it’s only natural for shoppers to visit to play the field and see what’s out there for their next ride, even if they are perfectly happy with their vehicle and you as their car dealer. 

Human nature aside, that doesn’t mean you have to stand passively by on the sidelines while your customer searches for their next vehicle. What if I told you that you could meet your customers both in the search results and in their social feeds when they’re in the market to buy or service a vehicle? And not in a creepy stalker way, but in a totally helpful way that makes them wonder how you always manage to be so thoughtful. 

By exporting a list of your sold customers from your CRM, you can power your loyalty based search engine and social advertising campaigns so that you’re there for them, even if they weren’t thinking of you at the moment. 

FUEL: Search & Display will automatically bid-up on searches made by past customers that illustrate high buying intent, and deliver a personalized ad.

For instance, you can create a list of customers who purchased a vehicle 4+ years ago from you, and use that data within a “Trade-In” Google Ad Campaign within FUEL: Search & Display  — our dynamic inventory advertising platform. Then, when one of those customers is using a low funnel search query “Honda Accord Trade-In”, FUEL will automatically bid up to win that number one ad spot in the SERP based on the high intent, low funnel, shopping keywords in their query along with the fact that your customer was identified as the searcher.

Again, the idea here is to ensure that you’re not losing out to your competition when your customer turns to search first instead of you. It’s this kind of technological magic that allows you to be present during your customer’s time of need — welcoming them with a warm message, and then reminding them why they chose you in the first place.

On the social side of things, using your first party data can also come in handy to help retain your customers with maturing leases. So you’d simply export that list of customers from your CRM who have a lease due to mature in the next 3-6 months, and include that audience in your social campaign.

As your customer is scrolling through their Facebook feed or flipping through their Instagram stories, BOOM, there you are! Your dealership makes a thumb-stopping appearance right there in their feed with a compelling offer tailored specifically to them! Before you know it, they’re back on your website and in shopping mode looking to get out of their current lease, and into a new one. Crazy (in a good way), right? 


Sometimes your customers will be away from you for months at a time, and that’s okay because absence makes the heart grow fonder, amiright? But nothing rekindles that old flame like greeting a VIP customer with a personalized message when they come back to visit your website.

One of the most powerful tools on the Dealer Inspire Web Platform is our Personalizer tool that lets you create user experiences based on a multitude of mix and match rules. Think back to when we talked about those email drip campaigns. It just so happens that one of the rules within Personalizer is UTM_Campaign.

So going back to your email drip campaigns, you can include a UTM code within all of those links in your emails, and when your customer clicks through from an email to your website, Personalizer will recognize that UTM Code, and welcome them with a message like, “Thank You For Being One of Our Best Customers!”. Or better yet — show them that Exclusive VIP offer you just uploaded for an oil change and tire rotation. Doesn’t that just make you all warm and fuzzy inside?!

Aside from welcoming your returning customers with open arms, you can also adapt your website messaging to show what a shopper’s future ownership experience could look like if they choose to begin a relationship with you.

Setting the expectation for ownership through homepage sliders, VRP banners, special loyalty incentives, and even a landing page dedicated to winning over customers with what it means to be a VIP at your dealership now and forever is the perfect way to begin winning their affection. 

Everyone wishes they knew someone in the car industry to make it easier, and faster. You have the opportunity to BE that person. Express it on your website to show your customer that you’ll treat them like your personal referral each and every time. 

When your retention marketing is strong, the bond between your dealership and your customer goes beyond the delivery by giving them that “new car happy” feeling long after they’ve driven off the lot. 


At Dealer Inspire we strive to provide you with the tools and support you need to build long lasting connections with your customers. We’re even available to help you think strategically about your dealership’s loyalty building and retention marketing efforts. We’re just a thumb tap away from chatting about how we can work together so you can keep more of your own customers. Talk to you soon!


1Brightlocal Local Consumer Survey, December 2019
2IHS Markit Trends in Dealer Loyalty Study, May 2021

How To Get Instant Trade-In Leads on Facebook

April 13th, 2021 by


Let us know who you are and we’ll reach out to discuss and set-up these turn-key campaigns with free creative.

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