The Ultimate Vehicle Acquisition Strategy Guide: Summer 2023 Edition

As we head into the second half of 2023, we need to keep an eye on the market trends that impact car dealer inventory levels. The global microchip shortage that plagued the industry for the past two years is easing up, and that means more new vehicles are being produced. However, new vehicle output is still projected to be 2.82 million1 lower than original estimates.

On the pre-owned side of things, Brain Kramer (GM, Accu-Trade) recently reported that the current supply of used vehicles that are 0-5 years old is shrinking fast with only 14.1 million on dealer lots and available for sale. By 2025, it’s projected that number will drop to 12.7 million, which would mean there’ll be 24% fewer 0-5 year old used vehicles available than there were in 2020 (16.2 million).

With the continued volatility of the market, taking your eyes off vehicle acquisition would be unwise. Even though you may have been prioritizing vehicle acquisition throughout the inventory shortage, there are always new tools 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 all season long.

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 remains elevated and steady is consumer interest in selling a vehicle. This is mostly due to market conditions keeping the value of pre-owned vehicles across the board high, allowing consumers 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 a 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 throughout your dealership’s customer journey that builds trust and confidence with the vehicle owners you’re targeting.

While providing an estimated value range of what vehicles 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. Toyota of Ann Arbor 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 shoppers are interacting with your trade-in experience, you can build trust and increase your chances of acquiring their car.

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, our Dealer Inspire SEO team optimized the trade-in landing page for a Honda dealer in Ohio. That page has shown steady and consistent organic growth for related queries over the past 12 months. It now ranks for 184 trade/sell keywords, and 59 of them are in the top 20 local positions2.

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 sources3.

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 $24.825, 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 5.6% 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.


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.

By integrating QR codes into your traditional ads, you’ll be able to enhance engagement, track performance, and create an interconnected marketing strategy that bridges the gap between offline and online media. This multi-channel approach is likely to appeal to a broader audience and contribute to the overall improvement of your vehicle acquisition efforts.


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: 95% 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 The latest numbers on the microchip shortage: More Cuts Worldwide. Automotive News, 11 Jun. 2023

2 Dealer Inspire Internal Data 2022-2023

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 all DI Digital Advertising clients from 1/1/2023 – 6/30/2023

6 Google Ads Results for a Digital Advertising client 1/12023 – 6/30/2023

Jason Stum
As the Director of Content Marketing at CARS, Jason draws from his hands-on dealership experience in Sales, Business Development, and Digital Marketing to lead a team in crafting actionable and insightful content for car dealers.

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