The Ultimate Vehicle Acquisition Strategy For The New Year

2021 is over. We made it. You’ve navigated through plummeting inventory levels, chip shortages, and a global pandemic — all while providing next-level customer service to a customer base hungry for their next set of wheels. 

It’s undeniable that the trending hashtag in the industry for the past year was (and is) #vehicleacquisition. And while you’ve had time to adapt and adjust your vehicle acquisition strategy, there are always new tactics (with free turnkey creative campaigns) that you can add to your overarching strategy.

If you need to get up to speed quickly, head on over to Inspire+ where we broke down the entire VA playbook, and it is available to stream on-demand today. In the meantime, as we head into 2022, we’ve rounded up some of our best tips to help you optimize your vehicle acquisition game. 

Advanced Vehicle Acquisition Strategies Webinar

Join our experts to learn how to integrate vehicle acquisition strategies into your website, digital advertising, and even traditional and in-store placements to efficiently and consistently acquire more vehicles



First things first: if you want website visitors to know your dealership will buy their car, tell them. Trade-in messaging can often take a backseat to the latest new car offers, so simply making the path to Trade-In or Sell Your Car prominent right from the homepage can make a huge difference. Add your trade-in page(s) to your navbar and place a prominent CTA above the fold to maximize impressions — especially on mobile.

Update Your Homepage For Trade-In Engagement

Also, if you’re a Dealer Inspire 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.

Next up, make sure to optimize your trade-in landing page to ensure you have a solid conversion rate and are building strong SEO value for  trade/sell keywords. Your page should be more than just an embedded tool — it should walk the visitor through your process and why they should business with you. Break down your process and build confidence that they can expect a good deal and a convenient, trustworthy experience from your local team.

Trade-In Landing Page Powered by Conversations

For our clients who use Conversations we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you and have prepared a special landing page (see above) to explain your safe, fair, and lightning-fast process and then convert through instant chats.

What does chat have to do with your trade-in page, you may ask? Follow me to the next section.


Most trade-in tools are gated forms. They may be great at spitting out an estimate, but they don’t necessarily build trust or pull the shopper into a conversation that can continue towards making an actual deal. Because even when the visitor does convert — it leads to a dead-end that your team then follows up with later. That’s like catching a fish, and then throwing it back in the lake… just to try and catch it again later. You have the customer engaged right there in the moment, so keep them on the line! 

That’s why we made our trade-in tool a conversation. Your “Value Your Trade” CTA buttons can start an instant, automated chat that asks a few friendly questions, and then our chatbot Ana Bot replies with an estimate range based on your margins. The lead goes right to your CRM, just like any other trade-in tool.

Automated Trade-In Values With Conversations™

Now, chatbots have gotten a bad rap for not being the best conversationalists — but they shine in these situations when they are answering one specific question that they have the answer to. Ana Bot can answer the question of “How much is my car worth?” a million times a day, 24/7, in any market for any brand. She’s gotten very good at this question. 

And the best part is this: once the estimate is given, or if the customer takes the conversation off the rails, Ana Bot instantly transfers the chat or text to whoever’s available on your team. So you can pick up the chat and answer it just like you would answer a phone call. 

You can program your Value Your Trade CTAs across your website to open these instant chats — from your homepage, to our free trade-in landing page, to every VRP and VDP. The upside for converting and closing these deals is huge, especially if your team is able to engage with them in the moment, which isn’t possible with other trade-in tools.


Before we get into our more advanced vehicle acquisition strategies, it’s important to also optimize your website for the visitors who don’t necessarily want to trade or sell, but just can’t find the vehicle they’re looking for.

With inventory being as tight as it is today, you might have some vehicle result pages on your website that have no, or only a few, vehicles listed. Instead of just letting your website visitors bounce because you didn’t have the exact model they want, take advantage of this digital real estate to let shoppers know that you can help them find what they’re looking for.

Using a display banner on the top of these no or low inventory VRPs is the perfect way to keep your visitors engaged and turn them into leads (and ultimately orders!) by letting them build and configure the exact vehicle they’re looking for right on your website using our new Vehicle Configurator tool. Interested in adding this tool to your Dealer Inspire website? Just give us a shout, and we’ll give you the scoop!


Now let’s start going beyond your website to go out and play offense with your vehicle acquisition strategies across channels.

More often than not, people will turn to search to answer their most important questions related to trading in or selling their vehicle outright. You can position your dealership to have the answer for these types of questions by adjusting your SEO and SEM Strategies to reach trade-in intenders in the organic and paid search results.

Search Engine Optimization

Once you have dedicated and optimized “Trade-In” and “We’ll Buy Your Car” style landing pages published on your website, then you can adjust your SEO Strategy to focus on creating content lanes that are specific to each of those topics.

Trade-In SEO Content Strategy

A solid SEO strategy helps you build a funnel that leads to conversions, and goes beyond covering basic keywords like “Sell My Car”. Maybe a consumer wants to trade in their vehicle, but they know it needs a specificc repair and are wondering if they should fix it first. Perhaps they still owe money on their vehicle and aren’t sure if they can  even sell it or trade it in. Or maybe they’re wondering if selling a car at a dealership is a better idea than selling it on their own.

Those are just a few examples, but you can see that there’s no shortage of questions that people will ask Google as it relates to moving on from a vehicle either by trade or sale. By creating quality content that addresses these specific questions, you can improve the relevancy of your website and reach more people who haven’t decided exactly what they want to do with their vehicle, all while showing Google that your dealership in an authority for these topics.

Search Engine Marketing

The #1 question customers have before they’re willing to contact a dealership is “Can I Afford It?”, and the value of their trade-in is a huge part of that. Your dealership can be there when they ask that question by setting-up a Google Ad campaign targeted toward local shoppers who are searching for how to get an estimated trade-in value.

Trade-In Campaign on Google Ads

You can even take it a step further by setting-up an ad group in your campaign that specifically targets local residents who are looking to sell their car, and land them on the aforementioned “We’ll Buy Your Car” landing page.

It’s worth noting that we see a slightly higher average cost per click when running a trade-in ads compared to running a new make/model search. Trade-in ads see an average of about a $4.65 cost per click, while new model searches average closer to the $3.65 cost per click¹. However while more expensive, trade-in search ads are more likely to generate a direct lead, thus resulting in a greater ROI.

Aside from creating ad groups targeted to people explicitly looking to trade-in or sell their vehicle, you can also incorporate a Value Your Trade sitelink in your other ad campaigns. We’ve found that ads that include this sitelink extension lead to a 45% increase in conversion rate²!

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

If you happen to be a Conversations user as well, you can deep link the Value Your Trade sitelink to send a user directly into the automated workflow where Ana Bot will provide the trade-in estimate in a matter of seconds, and also generate a lead for your dealership at the same time. Now THAT is a connected experience!

Discovery Ads for Vehicle Acquisition

If you haven’t started utilizing Google’s Discovery Campaigns, take some time to consider this going into 2022. If you aren’t familiar, a single Discovery Campaign will allow your dealership to appear on a consumer’s mobile device in three different placements — YouTube, Gmail, and the Discover Tab.

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

Not only is this a great way to get your most important messages out there, but these ads are also super smart. They rely on machine learning to build and showcase ads seamlessly across devices, but instead of showing results in response to a query, Discovery Ads are served to users based on what Google’s automated systems believe to be a good match with a their interests.

While you can certainly create Discovery Campaigns to feature your incentives or inventory, we’ve found that your budget will go the farthest with Trade-In messaging as we see a 138% higher conversion rate compared to Discover Ads with inventory messaging.


The follow up to the publication of any new content on your website is distributing it where people can discover it, even if they’re not specifically looking for it in that moment. As I’m sure you know, you Google Business Profile is currently one of the most powerful tools in your SEO toolbox.

Talk about Trade-Ins on Google Posts

Utilizing Google Posts to push out your “trade-in” or “sell your car” messaging is a great way to get the word out that’s easily discoverable right on your dealership’s Google Business Profile in the search results. Link these posts directly to the appropriate landing page or even the automated trade-in flow within Conversations to get people where they need to be as quickly as possible.


25 million car shoppers visit each month to shop for their next vehicle, and 41% of them want to sell or trade their current vehicle ( Consumer Metrics, Q1 2021). With Display you can put your most compelling trade-in message in front of a local audience that is exponentially more likely to take action (5% Avg. Lead Rate with Display vs. 0.03% Avg Lead Rate using traditional Display Networks³).

Start Instant Trade-In Chats on Display

If you really want to power-up your display banner on, you can tag it with a deep link to open up the automated trade-in flow within Conversations on your website. Not only will the shopper be getting your instant trade-in evaluation, but you’ll also get the benefit of having a valuable website transfer that will generate a high quality lead.


While and Google are the best placse for reaching local consumers who are actively searching to trade-in their vehicle in the moment, Facebook is where you want to be to help local in-market shoppers discover your dealership.

Run an engaging trade-in video campaign (we provide the FREE creative!) that instantly pulls shoppers into a trade-in conversation within Facebook Messenger, giving them an estimate on their vehicle and capturing the lead for you without the shopper ever having to leave the app.

This is working so well for our clients, that 63% of all the clicks and taps are resulting in a Trade-In lead. How awesome is that?!


While email has always been a powerful tool in your tool box, to truly drive your trade-in acquisition strategy forward, you need to start thinking beyond the CRM based “e-blast” that you send to everyone in your database. 

Trade-In Campaign Email Campaign

Instead, start thinking about how you can 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 some trade-in engagement from the folks who already know you. Here are just a few campaigns to consider:

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: In light of COVID, a lot of people’s financial situations have unfortunately 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.

Post-Sale Drip: Set up post-sale drip campaigns that will automatically send at predetermined times. Be doing the work up front and planning out the cadence, you can consistently send little annual reminders to your customers that maybe now is the time to trade in their vehicle.

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?

There’s so much you can do with email from a segmentation and messaging standpoint — but that’s just half the battle. The other half is making sure that your email is designed to look great on all devices, is built to convert, and can ultimately land in the recipient’s inbox. If you need a help with your email marketing efforts, our team is here to help you deliver the right email, to the right people at the right time.


Every Conversations client is provided a unique SMS text number for inbound & outbound text messaging. To truly connect traditional and digital, dedicate some real estate within your traditional ad campaigns (newspaper, direct mail, billboard, tv, etc) to tout your Instant Trade-In Estimate capabilities by including your supplied SMS text number — or turn it into an actionable QR Code — to generate genuine digital engagement from otherwise static assets.


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 Trade-In 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 this? Just say the word and our team will set you up with these turnkey strategies (with free creative) to drive more customers (and inventory) onto your lot.

I’m Interested

¹ Dealer Inspire Digital Advertising Metrics (May 1 – May 30, 2020)
² Dealer Inspire Trade-In Sitelink Metrics (May 1 – May 30, 2020)
³ Average form submission, chat lead, & digital retailing lead rate for Cars Display + Dealer Inspire Website customers (June – July 2019)

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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