The Ultimate Vehicle Acquisition Strategy Guide: Winter 2023 Edition

As we head toward the end of 2022, it’s time to look ahead and see what industry factors may continue to affect car dealer inventory levels headed into the new year. With the global chip shortage being a main driver of reduced inventory, it is positive to see that chip production is expected to increase by 20% in 2023. However, even with the increased output, the automotive industry will still lose up to 3 million units of planned production1.

With only small inventory gains to be made via your new vehicle channel, that means there is no room to relax your vehicle acquisition efforts. Even though you may have been prioritizing vehicle acquisition during the shortage, there are always new tool and tactics that you can add to your overarching strategy to make it more effective, and increase your ROI.

So with that in mind, we’ve updated our Ultimate Vehicle Acquisition Strategy Guide with our newest and best tips to help ensure you’re not missing out on any opportunity to keep your lot stocked with fresh vehicles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure you keep this guide bookmarked — not just for easy access when you need it, but also because we constantly update it with fresh tech + tactics that’ll help ensure your vehicle acquisition game is always on point.


A trend that has been steadily climbing upwards all year long is consumer interest in selling their vehicle. This is mostly due to market conditions raising the value of pre-owned vehicles across the board, thus allowing consumers the ability to off-load or consolidate the number of vehicles in their family fleet and get paid handsomely for it.

When we look at the monthly estimated search volume for the most popular keywords related to selling your vehicle, the trend is evident. This is absolutely something that you can capitalize on to ensure your dealership is top of mind for local consumers who are thinking about selling their current ride.

With just a little effort, your dealership can provide the perfect local selling experience, backed by a connected marketing campaign to drive awareness which leads to more successful vehicle acquisitions.


In order to be successful (and profitable!) with your vehicle acquisition efforts, you have to provide the right experience on your website that builds trust and confidence with the vehicle owners that you’re targeting.

While providing your website visitors with an estimated value range of what their vehicle might be worth has been the standard dealer experience for years, technology combined with the sheer amount of available market data has evolved to the point where you can give more than an estimate — you can give consumers a real cash offer for their vehicle.

Accu-Trade has the technology that integrates across the Dealer Inspire Connected Platform in addition to your vehicle listings — giving you everything you need to enable instant offers and accelerate your appraisal engine.

When you combine Accu-Trade’s powerful appraisal and instant offer technology with your local customer service, the result will be more profitable acquisitions because you’ve removed the back and forth negotiation on price with your customer, while also removing any of your own doubt about reconditioning. It truly is a selling experience no one can beat.

Don’t just take our word for it. Jim Ellis Chevrolet uses Accu-Trade to remove all doubt, generating Instant Offers with comprehensive detail — including OBD-II scans of the physical vehicle — to build trust and transparency for a fantastic (and much faster) customer experience.

And the best part? No need to stress about the offers, because in the very unlikely event that you don’t see the opportunity to turn a vehicle for a profit, Accu-Trade will buy the vehicle back from you at the exact price of the offer, guaranteed.

Demo Accu-Trade


Accu-Trade’s unprecedented vehicle appraisal technology gives you everything you need to capture more cars anywhere and everywhere, and Brian Kramer (GM, Accu-Trade) set out to prove it by hitting the streets of Naples, FL to ask total strangers if he could appraise and buy their cars on the spot.

When you can give your customer a real cash offer ANYWHERE — in the dealership, on the go, or on your website — you make it even easier for your customers to say, “YES”.

Aside from having your appraisal process and experience dialed in, your “why sell” message also needs to be backed up on your website, and amplified on your other marketing channels. Let’s take a look at how you can make that happen…


If you want your website visitors to know your dealership will buy their car, you have to tell them. Your trade and sell messaging should be front and center making the path to engaging with your trade-in experience just a click or tap away.

If you haven’t already, be sure to add a link to your trade/sell landing page to your main menu and place a prominent CTA above the fold to maximize impressions — especially on mobile.

#ProTip: If you’re a Dealer Inspire Website client, be sure to take advantage of our Personalizer technology to serve an actionable Trade-In message to your returning website visitors when they land on your homepage.

Check out the demo below to see how a website visitor can jump right from your homepage into an online appraisal that generates an instant and exact offer for their specific VIN — guaranteed by Accu-Trade.


With the proliferation of trade-in, digital retailing, and chat widgets being mixed and matched on dealer websites, there’s a growing (and very real) problem of consumers receiving different values for their vehicle on your website depending on the experience they’re engaging in.

For example, you may have a trade-in widget embedded on a landing page which provides shoppers with an estimated value of their vehicle. However the trade-in phase in your digital retailing tool uses a different data source that the trade-in widget on your website, and thus returns a different value range for the exact same vehicle. Instead of helping your customer, you’ve only made the selling or trading experience more confusing.

By providing a consistent appraisal experience no matter where shopper’s are interacting with your trade-in experience, you can build trust and increase your chances of acquiring their car.

Accu-Trade now powers the vehicle appraisal experience in both Online Shopper and Conversations.

To help you achieve that consistent and trustworthy experience, Accu-Trade now powers the online vehicle appraisal experience within Online Shopper and Conversations. It all flows together and allows your customer to transparently understand how much their vehicle is worth while they choose their payment for their next vehicle, or while engaging with your team via online chat.


It’s critical to understand that your dealership can claim top localized rankings in the search results for “Trade/Sell My Car” type queries if you have relevant content published on your website.

For example, the Dealer Inspire SEO team recently optimized all of the trade-in landing pages for a 39 rooftop automotive group. After just 30 days the client saw a dramatic increase in average search ranking position for those pages, along with a dramatic increase in organic impressions for related trade/sell queries3.

As you look to optimize your own trade-in landing page, keep in mind that simply embedding your trade-in tool on the page isn’t enough. You need to add additional content to the page that explains your process and builds confidence with consumers by showing them that they can expect a real instant offer for their vehicle along with a convenient, trustworthy experience from your local team.


After you’ve laid the groundwork on your website for maximizing the trade/sell engagement from your visitors, next you can put your superior “Why Sell” message in front of the most valuable in-market audience — from big screen OTT to small screen social.

Car dealers who use FUEL: In-Market Video to power their vehicle acquisition campaigns are seeing amazing results. Website visitors who were influenced by these video advertisements were 4x more likely to submit a trade/sell lead vs. all other traffic sources2.

Because FUEL: IMV is powered by audience data, that means you’re able to serve your message to a pure, in-market audience across platforms and devices.

In addition to your video advertising, your can also run in-market display campaigns that are served across the marketplace in key positions letting high-funnel shoppers know that your dealership has an easy, instant offer experience waiting for them on your website.

One of our clients recently activated an in-market display campaign for their vehicle acquisition efforts, and saw a 182% increase to their trade-in landing page in just two weeks4.


Aside from targeting in-market buyers and sellers with your video and display advertising, you should also focus on other digital marketing channels to be the answer for those looking to learn more about their options for selling or trading their vehicle.

Search Engine Marketing

Whether a local consumer is using a search engine to get more info about selling or trading their vehicle for something new, the value of their vehicle is going to be a big part of that transaction. Your dealership can be there in the SERP by setting-up a search engine marketing campaign targeted toward local shoppers who are showing intent to sell or trade.

It’s worth noting that we see impressive results for our Digital Advertising clients running search campaigns specifically for vehicle acquisition. The average cost per conversion for this type of campaign is $37.325, making it a very efficient way for your dealership to acquire the vehicles of local consumers.

We’ve also seen these ad campaigns have a measurable impact in foot traffic to the showroom floor with a 3.4% increase in actual dealership visits6 by those who engaged with these ads.

Aside from creating ad groups targeted to people explicitly looking to trade-in or sell their vehicle, you can also incorporate a related sitelink in your location or dynamic new & used campaigns. We’ve found that ads that include this sitelink extension lead to a 45% increase in conversion rate!

45% Increase in Conversion Rate with Trade-In Sitelink Extensions

Discovery Ads for Vehicle Acquisition

Google’s Discovery Campaigns are another way to get your vehicle acquisition message in front of an audience that is likely to take action. If you aren’t familiar, a single Discovery Campaign will allow your dealership’s messaging to appear on a consumer’s mobile device in three different placements — YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Discover Tab.

Dealer Inspire Internal Data July 1,  2021 — September 20, 2021

Unlike search ads which are intent based, Discovery Ads are served to users based on what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match with their interests. We’ve found that your budget will go the farthest with sell & trade-In messaging for these campaigns as we see a 138% higher conversion rate compared to Discover Ad Campaigns focused on inventory and incentive based messaging.


The secret to any successful campaign is ensuring that you’re providing your target audience with alternative ways to convert should they not engage with your preferred experience.

Conversations offers the one-two punch of providing an automated messaging based trade-in experience combined with the ability to launch that experience from a web based CTA button or external link.

Automated Trade-In Values With Conversations™

What’s nice about the automated experience within Conversations is that once the value of the vehicle is provided, your customer has the opportunity to connect with your team right in the same chat window to schedule an in-person visit, or ask you any questions they may have in the moment.


Because Conversations integrates directly with Facebook Messenger, you can help local in-market shoppers discover your dealership and get an offer for their vehicle without having to venture outside of the Facebook ecosystem.

This tactic has worked well for our clients as 63% of all the clicks and taps on trade/sell ads result in a lead for the dealer. How awesome is that?!


And if you really want to make sure you’re giving your dealership every opportunity to capture more cars, you can use QR Codes within your traditional ad campaigns (newspaper, direct mail, billboard, tv, etc) to tout your Instant Offer Experience to generate genuine digital engagement from otherwise static assets.


While email has always been a powerful tool in your digital marketing tool box, you can continue to push your vehicle acquisition strategy forward by thinking beyond the CRM based “e-blast”.

Trade-In Campaign Email Campaign

Instead of blasting your entire database, implement more refined email marketing campaigns targeted toward specific segments of your database so you can deliver the most relevant message that’s is more likely to generate engagement from the folks who already know you.

Here are just a few email campaigns to consider implementing:

Need an Upgrade?:  Send to customers in your database who have financed a vehicle 3-4 years ago. The message here is simple…”a lot has changed, is it time for an upgrade?”.

Treat Yourself: Send to your customers who purchased 5-7 years ago and remind them just how long that is, and say hey…”don’t you deserve something new?”.

Financial Hardship: With rising inflation and uncertain market behavior, it’s not unreasonable to think the financial outlook for a small segment of your customers has recently changed. Send an email to your customers who financed a car the past 1 to 3 years and provide options to reduce payments by trading in their vehicle for something more affordable or to sell it outright.

If It’s Broke, Replace It: Send campaigns targeted towards your customers who recently declined having an expensive service performed. Instead of paying that large repair bill on your 5 year old vehicle, why not skip the repair completely and trade it in as-is for something new?


I know we’ve covered a lot of ground so far, so kudos to you for soaking up all the content up to this point. It’s important to understand that everything we’ve discussed so far is going to get you more opportunities to acquire vehicles from your customers and local consumers. But…all of the leads in the world won’t mean a thing if your follow up game isn’t on point.

Let’s start with a quick test:

Question 1: A new Sell My Car Lead just hit your CRM. What do you do first?

A. Call Them – They must have their phone nearby, right? So I’m going to pick up the phone and give them a call.

B. I’ll shoot them a friendly and convenient text message to continue the conversation in a no-pressure kinda way.

C. Nothing. I’ll let my CRM’s automated email follow up process do it’s thing for the next 90 days, or until they contact me.

If you answered A or C… think about this before you make your first move: 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery. So don’t pick up the phone and call. Don’t rely on an automated response system. Instead, immediately follow up with your customer via text to seal the acquisition deal!

Want to know more about how you can perfect the art of follow up? We’ve written an entire guide to help you. Check it out!


Are you ready to do supercharge your vehicle acquisition strategy? Just say the word and our team will set you up with the technology, audience, and cross-channel creative strategy to that makes vehicle acquisitions happen.

I’m Interested

1 Microchip Shortage Forces More Car Production Cuts in 2023.” Automotive News, 28 Oct. 2022

2 39 rooftop automotive group, 30 days after optimizing all trade-in landing pages

3 Case Study: Compared funnel conversion rates between total site visits and FUEL: IMV influenced shoppers visits from 10/29/21 – 12/15/21

4 Google Analytics results for a FUEL: In-Market Display customer, January – February 2022

5 Google Ads Results for 127 DI Digital Advertising customers from 4/1/2022 – 5/26/2021

6 Google Ads results for a Digital Advertising customer, 4/1/2022 – 5/26/2022

Jason Stum
Jason is the Director of Marketing Strategy at Dealer Inspire. Having previously held dealership roles in Sales, Business Development and Digital Marketing, Jason combines his dealership experience with his love for marketing to position Dealer Inspire's products and services within the auto industry. Oh, and Star Wars...he really likes Star Wars.

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