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Thoughts on Trade Tools

December 2022
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Trade tools are a popular feature on car dealership websites that allow customers to enter information about their current vehicle and receive an estimate of its trade-in value. These tools can be a useful resource for customers who are considering trading in their current vehicle as part of the process of purchasing a new one from a dealership.

Why do customers use trade tools?

Customers may use trade tools for a variety of reasons. Some may be actively in the market for a new vehicle and are considering trading in their current one as part of the process. Others may be more casually interested in the value of their current vehicle, or may be "tire kickers" who are just curious about what their vehicle is worth.

Benefits to the customer

Regardless of the customer's motivation, trade tools offer several benefits. The most obvious is an estimate of the trade-in value of the customer's vehicle, which can be helpful in planning their budget and determining how much they will need to save or borrow in order to purchase a new vehicle. Some trade tools may also provide additional information or sales data about similar vehicles, which can help customers make more informed decisions about their purchase.

The customer experience with a trade tool should be seamless and straightforward. The trade-in form should be easy to complete, and the dealership should not use any deceptive tactics or "dark patterns" to mislead or manipulate customers.

Is accuracy important?

Accuracy is critical when it comes to trade tools on dealership websites, especially if the dealership intends to actually purchase vehicles based on the estimates provided by the tool. To ensure the accuracy of the trade-in value estimates, it is important for the trade tool to ask as many relevant questions as possible about the vehicle being traded in.

Some of the key pieces of information that should be included in a trade tool form include:

  • Make and model of the vehicle
  • Year of the vehicle
  • Mileage of the vehicle
  • Condition of the vehicle (e.g. excellent, good, fair, poor)
  • Any damage or repairs that have been made to the vehicle
  • Any special features or equipment that the vehicle has (e.g. navigation system, sunroof, etc.)

By asking for this information, the trade tool can get a more accurate picture of the vehicle being traded in and provide a more accurate estimate of its value. It is also a good idea to include a field for customers to provide additional information or notes about their vehicle that may not be covered by the form, as this can help the trade tool take into account any unique features or circumstances that may affect the value of the vehicle.

What trade tool placements convert users the most?

The placement of the trade tool on a dealership website can greatly impact its effectiveness in attracting and converting customers. Research has shown that customers are more likely to actively seek out a trade tool, rather than stumbling upon it by accident. This means that it is important for the trade tool to be prominently displayed and easy to find on the dealership website.

Placing the trade tool on key pages of the website can be especially effective in attracting customers. For example, research has shown that over 30% of users open trade tools from the vehicle detail page (VDP), and 15% from the trade-in page on the site. This suggests that these pages are likely to be visited by customers who are actively interested in purchasing a vehicle and are therefore more likely to use the trade tool.

In addition to the VDP and trade-in pages, other effective placements for the trade tool may include the homepage and the search results page (SRP). These pages tend to be heavily visited by users who are actively searching for vehicles, and placing the trade tool in a prominent location on these pages can help draw the attention of these users and encourage them to use the tool.

To iframe or not to iframe, that is the question…

When it comes to trade tools on dealership websites, there are two main options: natively integrated trade tools and third-party trade tools. A natively integrated trade tool is one that is built directly into the dealership's website and is fully integrated with the site's backend systems and databases. A third-party trade tool, on the other hand, is a tool that is provided by an external company and is typically embedded on the dealership's website using an iframe.

There are a few key differences between natively integrated trade tools and third-party trade tools that dealerships should consider when deciding which option is best for their needs.

One of the main advantages of natively integrated trade tools is that they are fully integrated with the dealership's website and backend systems. This means that data can be shared seamlessly between the trade tool and other forms on the site, allowing customers to enter their information once and have it populate automatically in other forms. This can be a major convenience for customers, who may otherwise be required to enter the same information multiple times if they are using a third-party trade tool that is not integrated with the dealership's systems.

Another advantage of natively integrated trade tools is that they can be fully customized to meet the specific needs and branding of the dealership. This can be particularly important for dealerships that want to present a consistent and cohesive brand experience to their customers. In contrast, third-party trade tools may not be fully customizable and may not fully match the branding and design of the dealership's website.

Do customers even know what ‘trade-in value’ means?

Copy choice, or the language and terminology used on a dealership website, can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the site and the overall customer experience. When it comes to trade tools, it is important for dealerships to carefully consider the language and terminology they use in order to ensure that customers understand what is being offered and how to use the tool.

One question that dealerships may want to consider is whether or not customers really know what "trade-in value" means. Trade-in value refers to the estimated value of a vehicle that a customer is looking to trade in as part of the process of purchasing a new vehicle. However, not all customers may be familiar with this term or understand exactly what it means.

To ensure that customers understand what is being offered, it may be helpful for dealerships to use clear and concise language that explains the concept of trade-in value in simple terms. This might include using phrases like "estimated value of your current vehicle" or "appraisal of your car's worth" in addition to, or instead of, the term "trade-in value."

Here are some additional alternatives for the terms "trade-in" and "trade-in value":

  • Sell your car
  • Sell your current vehicle
  • Sell your old car
  • Get an estimate for your current vehicle
  • Get an appraisal for your car
  • Determine the worth of your car
  • Find out the value of your car
  • Get a quote for your current car
  • Get an estimate for your old car
  • Determine the value of your current vehicle

Using alternative phrases like these can help ensure that customers understand what is being offered and how to use the trade tool, even if they are not familiar with the specific terms "trade-in" and "trade-in value."

In addition to using clear language, it is also important for dealerships to be upfront about the limitations of trade-in value estimates. These estimates are typically based on factors such as the current market value of similar vehicles and the condition of the vehicle being traded in, but they are not necessarily a guarantee of the actual value of the vehicle. It is important for dealerships to be transparent about this and to clearly communicate to customers that the final trade-in value of their vehicle may be different from the estimate provided by the trade tool.

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