By Fiona Santoianni, Sr. Dealer Success Manager
As a Senior Dealer Success Manager at Upstart Auto Retail, I work closely with dealerships to make sure they get the most from their digital car-buying tool. During in-person and remote meetings, I chat with sales managers, general managers, sales teams, and F&I managers. This gives me a comprehensive understanding of how digital retail affects the business.
The dealerships I support love Upstart Auto Retail because it lets their customers build their own deals on their own time. Like most dealers, they collect leads with contact forms across their website, third-party sources, and within the digital retail tool. Yet they always find shoppers that have touched Upstart Auto Retail to be the most valuable.
A recent dealership visit inspired me to share one of the easiest ways to invite more customers to use Upstart and close more deals. With just a few clicks, this dealer unlocked significant month-over-month gains in engaged shoppers and vehicle sales through Upstart Auto Retail’s intuitive online car-buying experience.
It all comes down to deal links—a way to bring customers into your online car-buying experience with just a click. These unique links drop the shopper right into the digital retail tool to find, build, price, and buy their next car.
Here’s how to do it.
Engage more shoppers with third-party lead activation
After I help a dealership get up and running on Upstart Auto Retail, I make sure they’re comfortable using the system. As the leads—or partially completed deals—start to roll in, I stay aware of the dealer’s appetite for more.
In the case of one dealer, after achieving 30+ Upstart Auto Retail-sourced leads per month, they were ready to shift into high gear. We activated the app’s third-party lead activation feature to drive more shoppers from high-funnel tire-kicking to digital retail engagement. So for those shoppers who stopped interacting after selecting their vehicle of interest and entering their contact info on a third party’s site, the dealer re-engages them to start building their deal.
Thanks to Upstart Auto Retail’s robust integrations with CRM tools, the lead activation feature can identify new contacts from outside the digital retail platform. It then automates an email with a link to schedule a test drive of the lead’s vehicle of interest.
This emailed link brings the shopper to the test drive scheduling page in the dealership’s Upstart Auto Retail workflow. They can immediately engage in the tool to select a date and time that works best for them to arrive at the dealership. This is where the lead enhancement and activation process ends, but not where the customer journey ends.
The car buyer now has access to the entire digital retail process—payments, trade-ins, F&I, accessories, and more. Suddenly, this unengaged lead goes from showing interest on another website to actually building their transaction on the dealership’s website. Not only does the sales team get a higher-intent shopper, they get useful buying journey details to inform their outreach.
With the car buyer information from Upstart Auto Retail, sales managers can also pencil out a deal for the lead’s vehicle of interest and email them that link, too. These links can also be sent via text, which can catch the interest of leads that are more comfortable interacting on mobile.
Impressive gains in digital retail engagement drive profits
After running lead activation for three months, this dealership compared performance to the previous three months, without activation turned on. The results were staggering:
- 132% more customers entering the Upstart Auto Retail workflow¹
- 186% more test drives booked¹
- 80% more trade-ins submitted¹
- 43% more in-store customers using the app in the showroom¹
- 87% more deals closed from the app¹
Another dealership I work with saw similarly impressive performance lifts, especially when it came to test drives, credit apps, and protection plans:
- 53% more customers entering the Upstart Auto Retail workflow²
- 900% more test drives booked²
- 90% more trade-ins submitted²
- 357% more credit apps submitted²
- 233% more protection plans sold²
Are your teams thriving with digital retail and ready for a flood of digital deals? It’s time to turn on third-party lead activation and route even more customers into your online car-buying experience.
After all, a link is a powerful thing—it can also keep buyers on the hook when they leave the showroom before closing.
Keep the deal moving by sending a unique link
That tactic of sending a unique deal link to leads is also useful for keeping hesitant in-store buyers on the hook. When a customer’s not quite ready to close on their vehicle, you can do more than print or email their penciled deal.
While in the Upstart Auto Retail app, your sales team can snag a unique link to the customer’s deal and share it with the customer. When the customer clicks that link, they pick up right where they left off, and you can keep track of any progress they make.
This way, the customer can re-engage when they’re ready. And you won’t miss any opportunity to bring them back in to close the deal. Better yet, they might even enter their trade or submit their credit application, saving time in the showroom.
Dealerships I work with also report higher uptake of protection plans when customers shop them independently. So not only do they see recovered and re-activated deals by sending a unique link. They can actually pull in more back-end product sales, too.
The simple, yet high-impact tactics of re-engaging third-party leads and stalled customers can make a significant impact on your sales figures. It will also help you achieve OEM mandates for running more deals through the digital retail experience.
Are you using simple yet effective links to make it as easy as possible for customers to build, price, and buy their next car?
About Fiona Santoianni
Senior Dealer Success Manager Fiona Santoianni provides in-person and remote support to assist Upstart Auto Retail optimize their digital car-buying capabilities and operations. Her automotive experience includes more than eight years as director of media and PR for a Subaru dealership, as well as more than five years in the auto retail software sector. She lives in Stormville, NY, with her husband, son, and two cats.