How to Effectively Market Your Trade-In Program

July 9, 2024

A row of cars lined up in a dealership

Many modern car buyers like to trade in their vehicle when they're ready for a new one. It's convenient and, in some states, can mean tax advantages. For example, many states require consumers to pay sales tax only on the difference between the price of the trade-in and the new car.1

Trade-ins can be a great way to bring customers to your automotive dealership. However, if you want to attract people to your trade-in specials and promotions, you need to spread the word. Discover some car dealership marketing strategies you can use to connect with your community below.

Car Dealership Marketing Strategies for Trade-Ins

Automotive dealership marketing for trade-ins can take various forms, from online tactics to in-store efforts. By using a diversity of techniques, you can extend your reach and connect with more people.

Digital Marketing

Your website is the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy. Make sure it includes trade-in information, with links clearly visible in the homepage's navigation menu. You want to make it as easy as possible for users to find the info they need.

If you have a special trade-in promotion or deal, you can advertise it using a website banner. This adds even more visibility, further raising awareness. 

Whenever possible, look for opportunities to link back to your trade-in page. Internal linking is also important for improving your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking in Google. For example, if you write a blog post about the trade-in process, you can link to your trade-in landing page.

There are also digital marketing opportunities beyond your website. You can drive traffic back to your trade-in landing page via ads on social media and search engines. Pay-per-click ads on Google are one example.

Email marketing is another approach worth trying. You can build email lists from your customer base, creating targeted campaigns with a high return on investment (ROI). For example, a customer who bought a car from you five years ago might respond well to an email promoting a trade-in offer. After five years, it's time for an upgrade, right?

In-Store Marketing

Digital marketing may be the wave of the future, but don't discount the value of good old-fashioned analogue techniques. Your showroom is a prime spot for promoting trade-ins. Here, you already have a potential buyer on site. This is an opportunity for your sales team to pitch and provide essential information about the process and benefits of a trade-in, as well as practical details like vehicle market values.

To help your sales team make the most of the opportunity, make sure they have the training and tools they need. A trade-in calculator tool that's integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM) system is one example of how tech can expedite the process.

If your dealership offers promotions or deals for trade-ins, make sure your sales team communicates these perks effectively. Role-playing can help your team get comfortable with the process of pitching and closing a trade-in deal. You may also want to have printed information on hand, like pamphlets or fliers, that people can take with them.

When you do have customers on your lot, even if you aren't closing a deal right away, try to get them into your sales funnel. Collecting contact information for future follow up—for example, via your email newsletters—is a solid start.

Lastly, do all you can to streamline the trade-in process as a whole. Consumers are driven by convenience. Your sales team needs to be prepared to take action if a client wants to go through with a trade-in, expediting inspections and appraisals to minimize wait times.

Tips for Optimizing Your Car Dealership Marketing Strategies

Whatever medium you use to connect with potential customers, there are a few things you can do to optimize your marketing. Try these best practices when implementing your car dealership marketing strategies:

  • Maintain a Consistent Brand: Whether you're sending out emails or passing out pamphlets, ensure your dealership's brand is consistent. Make sure your name and logo are clearly visible and in your brand colors, and that the language aligns with the tone of your business. A community-focused business will usually have a friendly tone, for instance.
  • Provide Essential Information: Your marketing materials should answer essential consumer queries up front. How does a trade-in work? What can your customer expect to get for a trade-in? If they're interested, what's the first step?
  • Take Advantage of Technology: Your sales team is there to close the deal. But technology can help. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots can serve as a first point of contact for consumers who contact your dealership online in off hours.3
  • Build a Positive Reputation: Your car dealership's success will rely largely on long-term investment in your overall brand image. Taking steps like setting up social media and Google Business profiles, and soliciting positive reviews from satisfied customers, can boost your reputation.
  • Make It Easy for Customers to Take Action: The right tech tools can also simplify the trade-in process for dealerships and customers alike. With ClearCar, customers can submit self-guided photos of their vehicle, taken with their own phone, to get a price estimate for their trade in.

How ClearCar Helps

ClearCar uses AI to scan photos of consumers' cars. The tool then combines real-time market data with information about the vehicle's condition and history to provide reliable, fair pricing. Learn more about how ClearCar works.


  1. 1. July 20, 2017. The Benefits of Trading in Your Car. Consumer Reports. Retrieved July 1, 2024.
  2. 2. Friedrichsen, J. (May 8, 2021). Best 6 Ways to Increase Vehicle Trade-ins & Fixed Ops Profit. Dealer Teamwork. Retrieved July 1, 2024.
  3. Wofford, C. (July 18, 2022). Top tips to boost trade-ins and repeat business. CBT News. Retrieved July 1, 2024.