6 Best Ways to Increase Vehicle Trade-ins & Fixed Ops Profit
May 28, 2021
New car shortages and skyrocketing used car auction prices are causing huge headaches for many car dealerships right now. In fact, vehicle stock and shipments are down 26 percent from last year! Current inventory shortages are being caused by chip shortages and pandemic delays, along with rising customer demand.
To help dealerships navigate these challenges, we want to share 6 of the best ways car dealerships can increase vehicle trade-ins and fixed ops profit to counter vehicle shortages.
These marketing and SEO tactics for car dealers will help dealers drive more service appointments. These tips will also help dealers stock their used car inventories at cheaper costs for greater profits on used car sales.
We’ll examine each marketing and SEO tactic in detail and give you actionable steps and/or inspiring examples to help you implement these tips for your dealership. Let’s get started.
1. Put Trade-in/Sell Your Car & Service Appointment Links in Navigation
Since new car inventory is scarce, it’s important to focus on used cars and fixed ops sales. But, new car scarcity is causing higher than normal auction prices for used car inventory. Dealerships need to be creative in how they acquire used cars in order to make a profit on used car sales.
One way dealers can do this is by adding the trade-in and/or sell your car page (these pages will be collectively referred to as the “trade-in page” going forward) to their website’s navigation (nav). Dealers should consider putting a link to their schedule service link in nav as well.
Putting one or both of these links in navigation provides short-term and long-term benefits for dealers.
First, it immediately improves the user experience by making it easier for people to find these pages on the website. This increases the chance that someone will view these pages and convert.
See for yourself. The dealership website example below includes all three links in the navigation.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all three pages. Many dealers will have just two pages: one schedule service page and one page for both their trade-in and sell your car pages.
That said, notice how accessible and visible the three links are on the above dealership’s homepage. If a customer wants to perform one of these actions, they only need to click once to visit the desired page.
In contrast, this dealership’s nav (see above) is missing the schedule service and trade-in page links.
See the difference? Because the links are hidden in the individual menus of each top level nav link, it’s more difficult to locate these pages on the website. This contributes to lower page traffic and conversion opportunities.
Dealerships that make this simple update to their websites can more easily stock their used car inventory at cheaper prices by acquiring more used cars from customers. This also means dealers can rely less on buying used cars at auctions when prices are high.
Second, this update helps dealers in the long run by raising customer awareness of the trade-in option.
Some car owners may not realize it’s an option to sell or trade-in their used car at your dealership. For customers, getting a cash offer on their car may be an appealing option. This is especially true if customers own, but no longer need multiple vehicles.
Raising more awareness among your customer base will help develop a steadier stream of used car inventory from customers, now and in the future.
This gives dealers more choice on whether to buy cars from customers or go to auction. Of course, this will differ by dealer. It’ll depend on what used car acquisition option is cheaper and what will net the dealer the most profit in used car sales.
Once this change is made, remember to measure page views and link clicks in your Google Analytics account to compare before and after performance.
It’s also important to point out that online car buying websites like Carvanna and Carmax are seeking ways to increase their gross profit per used car via customer trade-ins.
As part of this deliberate strategy to acquire more used car trade-ins, Carvanna and Carmax each include trade-in page links on their website’s navigation.
With increased competition for vehicle trade-ins, it’s more important than ever for dealerships to have an action plan focused on creating more trade-on opportunities. Car dealers need to take deliberate steps to increase customer trade-ins by making their trade-in program an integral part of their marketing strategies. Realistic goals need to be established and the metrics must be measured daily.
Those without an action plan will lose out on trade-in opportunities — forcing dealers to pay more for vehicles at auction (when prices are high), resulting in lower gross profits.
2. Use Website Banners to Promote Trade-Ins & Service
Don’t just add your trade-in page to your website navigation menu and stop. Dealer Teamwork recommends that dealers go a step further by adding website banners to their websites Use the premium real estate at the top of your pages to maximize visibility and engagement.
Website banners are a great way to drive more traffic to important pages on your website. Banners can be paid or unpaid. In this specific section, we’ll only be talking about unpaid website banners.
Website banners help raise awareness and drive more traffic to your trade-in and service pages.
Get creative with designing these banners and place them across your website. Experiment with these banners and measure performance by comparing banner link clicks and pageviews in Google Analytics. Doing so will help you determine what is and isn’t working.
You can track onsite banner performance by creating UTM tags. UTM tags (aka urchin tracking module) are bits of code added to the end of regular URL links. These give Google Analytics (and other analytics tools) more information about each banner link and which marketing campaign the link relates to.
Work with your website provider to create and track the performance of your onside banners using UTM tags.
For Dealer Teamwork customers, dealerships can contact their account managers. Account managers will work with dealers and their website providers to get these banners properly set up on their websites.
How do you decide which size banner to use? Five common effective website banner sizes include:
Leaderboard (728 x 90 pixels)
Large Rectangle (336 x 280)
Half Page Banner (300 x 600)
Medium Banner (300 x 250)
Large Mobile Banner (320 x 100)
Work with your marketing or website provider and experiment with these different banner sizes.
Again, be sure to use Google Analytics to help you make informed decisions on which banners perform best on your dealership’s website pages.
3. Create Internal Links to Your Trade-In & Service Pages
Internal linking (any link that points to another internal page on your website) is a key car dealer SEO tactic that benefits dealers by improving the user experience and overall SEO value of your website.
Internal links make it easier for search engines to crawl and index content while also telling Google what information on your website is most important.
Pages on your website that have more internal links directing back to them are considered more important by Google and other search engines. Internally linking to pages on your website helps those pages rank better in the search results.
That’s why Dealer Teamwork recommends internally linking to your dealership’s trade-in and service pages across your website.
Doing so accomplishes 2 goals:
Increases the opportunities for someone to visit your trade-in page
Helps your trade-in page & service pages rank better in the search results (i.e. more people can find these pages organically without clicking on an ad)
When linking to your trade-in or schedule service page, make sure it’s relevant to the page you’re including it on. For example, if a dealership page’s content centers around community involvement, it may not make sense to link to your trade-in and schedule service pages there.
On the flip side, you would want to link to your trade-in and schedule service pages on your new and used inventory pages. This can be done by including a link in the footer text below your new and used inventory feeds (see example below).
A few other relevant page examples where it would make sense to internally link to your trade-in page include:
Finance pages (e.g. car payment calculator, finance center, credit application, etc)
Service & parts pages (e.g. service center, schedule service, service coupons, etc
Specials pages (new, used, service, etc)
Another good automotive SEO practice when internally linking to your trade-in page is to use a high-intent keyword that’s easily understandable to the reader.
Keyword links that display high intent and that are understandable, familiar and relevant to the reader, provide a better user experience and help improve content engagement (i.e. link clicks).
High intent keywords signify a searcher’s strong intent to perform an action like scheduling vehicle service or wanting a vehicle’s specific lease payment.
Here’s an example illustrating the difference between a high and low intent keyword:
High intent keyword: “schedule Ford auto service”
Low intent keyword: “auto service”
See the difference in intent? Schedule Ford auto service is a very specific action. The searcher is clearly looking to schedule service for their Ford vehicle.
Conversely, “auto service” is much more unclear. Someone searching for this phrase could be looking for a definition or something else. Plus, broad terms like this are much more competitive and thus, harder to rank for.
Dealers should also look for keywords that are highly searched for by car shoppers/researchers. Choosing a keyword with a high enough search volume improves the page’s chances of reaching the first page of the search results.
When determining which keyword to use, it’s best to aim for keywords with lower SEO difficulty scores (e.g. ideally anything below 70 when using SpyFu). High-difficulty keywords are harder to rank for because of their competitiveness.
Various online SEO tools offer SEO difficulty scores to help you research. SpyFu is one such SEO tool with this capability. You can start researching keywords at no cost using SpyFu’s SEO Keyword Research tool.
If you’re unsure which keyword(s) to use when linking to your schedule service and trade-in pages, consider using any of the below keywords:
Trade-in/Sell Your Car Keywords
Whatever keywords you decide to use, aim for higher volume keywords (ideally 100+ a month) like the examples shared in the image above.
Keep in mind that the choice of keyword will depend on what type of car trade-in value tool a dealership uses. For example, if a dealer’s website uses Edmunds or Carfax to determine car trade in value, don’t use “kbb trade in value”.
In the aforementioned example, that dealer would want to choose a general keyword or use one of the keywords mentioning “Carfax” or “Edmunds”.
Schedule Service Keywords
This example uses Honda as the OEM. If you choose to use either of these keywords on your website, make sure you swap out “Honda” for your dealership’s OEM brand (e.g. Ford service appointment, Kia service appointment, etc).
Service Coupons Keywords
These are good examples of keywords that Ford dealerships can use to promote their service coupon specials pages across their website.
As a general rule, the format “[OEM] service coupons” is good to use for any OEM brand. Feel free to use this keyword format on your website.
For non-Ford OEM brands, search volume for keywords appearing on the above list varies. That’s why we recommend doing your own keyword research should you choose to use a keyword other than “[OEM] service coupons”.
Also, don’t be afraid to change up the keyword on different pages on your website. Your trade-in and service pages can potentially rank for multiple keywords when shoppers search for that term or a similar phrase.
Consider this dealer example.
Notice how the dealer’s keywords, “nissan service coupon” and “nissan oil change coupons” are both ranking for the same URL/page? This means that when someone searches for either one of the aforementioned keyword phrases in the AnyTown, NJ area, the oil change coupons page is showing up in the search results for both queries.
Here’s what the mobile search result looks like for the keyword “nissan oil change coupons”:
In this example, AnyTown Nissan is ranking number 2 and 3 overall (above all other dealerships) for the keyword “nissan oil change coupons”. This is important because search results higher up on the page typically see higher average click-through rates (CTR) than ones lower on the page.
The above example illustrates the importance of dealers linking to their service and trade-in pages using various keyword combinations. Doing so will increase dealers’ chances of showing up in more relevant search results by ranking their key pages for multiple high-volume keywords.
All in all, linking to your trade-in page and schedule service pages across your website is a good automotive SEO practice. This will help dealers improve the organic ranking of their trade-in and schedule service pages while driving more traffic to those pages as well.
4. Build “We Buy Your Car” & Fixed Ops Ads
With dealers having less new vehicle inventory, it’s important to shift strategies by instead focusing on advertising used car inventory, trade-ins and fixed ops.
Even though many dealers don’t have as much new vehicle inventory as they normally do, now is not the time to scale back advertising. Dealers that suspend their ad campaigns risk losing market share and sales to competitors that continue running ads.
That’s why Dealer Teamwork recommends that dealers continue spending on ad campaigns by shifting their marketing strategies to stay competitive in today’s market. Specifically, car dealers should run a combination of discovery, display, pay-per-click (PPC), social media and video ads that promote 2 things:
Current service coupons to encourage service appointments
Vehicle buyback/trade-in campaigns help dealers compete with Carvanna and other online car buying services as well as other car dealerships.
Everyone is competing for trade-ins right now. That makes it all the more imperative that dealerships get their name and services in front of customers.
To help spark your imagination, here are several vehicle buyback ad examples to consider using for your dealership:
Discovery ad example
Display Ad Example
PPC Ad Example
Social Media Ad Example
In terms of running fixed ops ads, Dealer Teamwork Account Manager, Bret Larson, recommends that dealers focus on promoting their current service coupons.
“I’m currently recommending that dealers run ad campaigns that leverage their service coupon specials. Service offers are one of the best ways dealers can differentiate themselves from local competitors in service ads.”
Bret also notes that dealerships may not need to run service campaigns like these if their service centers are already backed up. In this case, Bret advises that dealers focus heavily on promoting their used car specials alongside buyback/trade-in campaigns.
More importantly, highly targeted and segmented email campaigns also provide high ROI for marketers. When executed well, marketers using segmented email campaigns see an up to 760% increase in revenue!
Needless to say, dealers that aren’t using email marketing to target prospects and existing customers are missing out on huge sales opportunities.
To promote your buyback program, segment your customer database and send emails to customers who have owned their vehicle for a while. Also, mention your trade-in program in service emails and appointment confirmations.
Remember, you never know what someone’s exact situation is. Casting a wide net helps you reach more potential customers who are interested in trading in or selling their vehicle to your dealership.
Be sure to segment your customer database and send service coupons and service reminder emails to previous customers who are due for service.
In terms of buyback/trade-in emails, here are some email segmentation and messaging examples to get you started:
It’s time for an upgrade: Send emails to previous customers who financed a vehicle 3-4 and 5-7 years ago. The messages can be something like, “It’s been x amount of years, see the latest vehicle features and upgrade your car today”. Include buyback/trade-in info in the email.
Get something more affordable: The pandemic changed many people’s financial situations. Customers who financed a vehicle with you 1-3 years ago may now be struggling to make payments. Send an email to these customers and provide options to reduce payment amounts. Include a trade-in/buyback offer so customers can choose to trade or sell their vehicle to get something more affordable.
Annual trade-in reminders: Set up drip campaign emails and schedule these to send annually. Send to customers who bought a vehicle from you. Remind them about your trade-in/buyback offer by saying, “Ready to trade-in for something new? Check out these current offers we think you might be interested in”.
Special trade-in offers: Have a new trade-in/buyback offer? Share it with customers! Send an email to customers who bought a vehicle from you 3-7 years ago and alert them of the limited time/new offer.
Repairs too expensive?: Send emails to customers who recently declined having an expensive service or repair done. Messaging can be something like, “Is your [service/repair type] too expensive for your [year/make/model]? Skip the repair and trade-in your old vehicle for something new.”
Dealer Teamwork recommends that dealers find and utilize scalable email marketing solutions that help them target specific audiences with personalized email content. This will prepare them for long-term success by allowing them to better engage shoppers and generate more marketing leads.
Dealers that are looking for an email marketing tool can check out our MPOP® Email Campaign Builder. It’s designed to help dealers engage and follow up with marketing leads with highly relevant messaging. Dealers can use the tool to send highly targeted email marketing campaigns to their service customers.
Additionally, because Dealer Teamwork campaigns are driven by MPOP® offers, email call-to-actions direct shoppers to Dynamic Landing Pages with UTM tracking links built in. This helps dealers measure campaign results better. This tool is available at no added cost for Dealer Teamwork customers.
If you have email marketing questions on strategy, the email builder tool or anything else, contact our sales team.
Google My Business (GMB) and social media posts are another great way for dealerships to promote their service coupon offerings and trade-in pages to car owners.
Dealers should consider creating posts that promote their “We’ll Buy Your Car” messaging and service coupons on all social profiles actively being used. This includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and GMB, among others.
The ultimate goal is to get your name, messaging and offers in front of as many customers as possible on a wide variety of marketing channels.
GMB Posts give your customers more access to your dealership’s business information and updates. This allows car owners to make better decisions as they browse your profile. Need inspiration for a GMB post with buyback messaging? Check out the examples below to get your creative juices flowing:
Again, making these GMB posts visible to car owners increases the opportunity for customers to click on these posts and convert after visiting the destination link.
Bonus tip: Add your trade-in offer as a product in GMB. Doing so further increases your trade-in page’s visibility and creates more opportunities for car owners to spot this offer on GMB.
Don’t forget to add a trade-in CTA to your Google My Business Products section for even more visibility. Create a new category, add a description and link it to your trade-in page. Be sure to tag it properly to track the activity as well.
Once dealers add their trade-in service as both a product and post on GMB, dealers will have two spots on their GMB listing promoting this service.
Though organic reach on social media is in decline, posting on your social media profiles is still an important way to reach your followers. Like GMB posts, social media posts also help you promote dealership service coupons, specials and services.
Remember, reaching some of your followers is better than reaching no one. Plus, dealerships can supplement their social media and GMB posts by running ads that promote their service and trade-in pages to further boost reach.
Another useful social media tactic for increasing post discoverability involves using relevant hashtags. Including hashtags in social media posts helps categorize content while making posts easier to find when people search for hashtags that a post falls under.
Also, don’t forget about your dealership’s social media followers. Remember that social media followers voluntarily choose to follow you. This means they’re interested in your dealership’s products and services.
Treat your followers with relevant used car specials, service coupons and remind customers of essential services like your dealership’s vehicle buyback/trade-in option.
For even more social media post visibility, “pin” your trade-in offer or service coupon post to the top of your social media pages (see Facebook example below).
Pinning social media posts to the top of your social media profiles helps boost post reach when car owners visit the page.
Dealerships that utilize these various placement options across their social media and GMB listings will have an advantage over dealers that don’t.
For better results from your new, used and service marketing campaigns, consider using Dealer Teamwork as your marketing provider.
At Dealer Teamwork, we have a unique digital marketing automation platform, the MPOP®, that allows dealers to merchandise their entire new and used inventories to save them time and improve campaign results.