If your car dealership is feeling the inventory pinch, you’re not alone. The good news is, using smart automotive marketing strategies, you can win the inventory game. And you won’t have to blow your budget.

How Did We Get Here?

Just as we started to emerge from our pandemic lockdowns, a ransomware attack on a major gasoline supplier plunged a large part of the country into a gas shortage. Long lines and frayed nerves have a lot of people thinking about switching to a gas-sipping car for their daily commute.

Typically, increased demand is great news for car dealerships. But we live in extraordinary times, leaving dealers scrambling to align inventory with demand. So, how did we get here? 

  • The pandemic forced production lines to shut down for several months in 2020.
  • With people working from home, computer chip manufacturers shifted from automobile computers to personal devices and desk/laptop computers.
  • Many automakers had already discontinued the production of sedans in favor of trucks and SUVs.
  • The substantial reduction in available new vehicles—coupled with rising prices—pushed buyers toward pre-owned cars. This shift has drawn down used car inventory across the country.

How Can Digital Marketing Help?

While thousands of Americans who are heading back to the office are contemplating new wheels, many others are ready to downsize the number of vehicles in their driveway. 

You already know how digital marketing helps you sell your inventory. Let’s take a look at how your well-executed automotive marketing strategy can also help you acquire quality trade-in vehicles.

Example of Trade-in campaign ad with toyota 4runner

Talking Trade-Ins on Your Website

Whether you’re selling or accepting trade-in vehicles, your website is still the #1 way to talk to your customers. When you need to increase your pre-owned vehicle inventory, an optimized site makes it easy for people to trade in or sell their cars to your dealership.

Your site should include a landing page specifically for trade-in vehicles. Just as you would for cars you offer for sale, you should have robust SEO on your trade-in landing page that includes:

  • Relevant keywords including make/model, body type, drivetrain, and other in-demand features
  • The geographic location of your dealership
  • A clear description of the trade-in process (including whether they can complete the process virtually or bring the vehicle to your dealership)
  • A tool for estimating the vehicle’s trade-in value

Keep in mind that many customers may need to sell their car and are not interested in trading it in for a new vehicle. Rather than trying to reach them with the same message, you’ll want to have a separate landing page with targeted messaging such as “sell us your car” and “we’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy a car from us.”

Once you have your landing pages set up, make sure the links to them are easy to find on your website’s home page and in the menu bar. If your website uses a message carousel on the home page, include a short blurb with links to your landing pages

Send Up a Signal on Social Media

Let’s get even more mileage out of those landing pages! Create a campaign across your social media channels that let folks in your area know your dealership is looking for some great used vehicles.

Create ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram that highlight the kinds of vehicles you’re looking for. Much like a sales campaign, you want to bring qualified leads to your website, so your ad creative should include photos and a description of the vehicle you’re looking for. Your copy should also use relevant keywords and showcase any special trade-in offers and incentives.

Check out Dealer Authority's Social Solutions

Our custom automotive social media strategies convert your customers from online window shoppers to scheduled test drives.

Don’t Neglect Video!

Send up a virtual “bat signal” to local customers by going live and/or posting a video on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Let people know why they’re better off bringing their trade-in to your dealership compared to private or online sales (convenience, safety, trust). Include a walkthrough of the buying process and showcase examples of the vehicles you’re looking for.

The Power of Paid Search

It should come as no surprise that people turn to Google first when they have a car that they want to get rid of. And paid search is the most cost-efficient way to reach people in your area who are motivated to sell their vehicle. Google Ads makes it easy to A/B test ad copy, so you can try alternate messages, such as “sell us your car” vs. “we’ll buy your car today,” to see which drives more qualified customers to your website (and your dealership).

Drop Your Customers a Line

Chances are, you’ve been staying in contact with customers who bought new cars at your dealership. How about sending a follow-up message to people who purchased their car from you a few years ago? 

 After driving their car for 3-4 years, your customers might be ready to trade up to a newer model. Or maybe the pandemic created financial hardship for your old customer, and your email may arrive at just the right moment if they are looking for a convenient way to get out from under their car payment. And since they bought their car from your dealership, you have already built a trusting relationship that will help them feel comfortable working with you.

Ready to Start the Conversation?

Don’t worry if starting a conversation about trade-ins has you feeling tongue-tied. We’ve got an experienced team of digital automotive marketing experts. When you want to reach qualified customers who are ready to trade up or sell their old car, we’ll help you craft a digital campaign that delivers the vehicles you need right to your dealership.