The Pros and Cons of Incentive-Driven Offers

Convert leads and represent your dealership and brand with distinction, not distraction

Incentive-driven offers like $25 Amazon or Visa Gift cards can be incredibly powerful lead-capture tools on your dealership website. When considering an incentive-driven strategy for lead capture, however, it pays to keep in mind the drawbacks of this strategy.

If you’re aware of the potential issues of using incentive-driven offers, you can make sure to invest in an automotive gift card strategy that both converts leads and represents your brand and dealership with distinction, and without distraction. Let’s start with the cons.

Your leads become more expensive

A gift card lead adds another $25 (or whatever amount you select) to a lead that may have been free.

Imagine the following scenario: Jerry is searching for a large family automobile. He sees an advertisement on Facebook for one of your vehicles and clicks it. When he gets to your website, he’s fully intending to come in for a test drive. Nonetheless, when he sees your gift card offer, he takes it.

In this case, you spent $25 on top of your cost per click for the lead that would have come in for a test drive anyway. Let’s say the average conversion rate on your ad traffic evens out at about $100 per lead. That $100 just turned into $125 because of the gift card.

Your website seems more spammy

Now, in addition to chat, pop-ups, and trade-in appraisals, you’ve just added another element to your website.

Gift card offers may look like spam because many visitors associate them with aggressive marketing tactics they are warned about clicking on when browsing the wider web.

You may cheapen your brand

A generic $25 card feels cheap or impersonal to many visitors. It’s not special or emotional, unlike your vehicles.

At a dealership, your focus should be on getting people into the showroom and behind the wheel to experience the power and feeling of your inventory. This personal, value-based approach is in stark contrast to a generic gift card, which may feel like a cheap exchange for the chance to market your wares.

Despite these potential drawbacks, using gift cards can be like putting your lead-acquisition program on steroids. So, how can you effectively use gift cards? It’s all in smart deployment and targeting.

Done right, you can minimize the damage and get meaningful value, turning the cons into pros for your website. Here are a few ideas to match your brand and value-based approach with an automotive gift-card incentive strategy for better lead capture.

Targeting is everything

If buyers are not in-market—for example, if they’re coming in for a quick parts or service visit but have zero chance of upgrading their vehicle—you may not want to target them with a gift offer.

Also, site visitors searching for employment on your jobs page also don’t need to see the gift card offer. Using a smart tool for segmentation helps make sure you’re spending your money on the best opportunities.

Design, design, design

By investing in the design of the on-page pop-ups that offer the gift cards, you can turn a negative into a positive. Do they look snazzy and beautiful while still converting at a high rate?

That’s the difference between a customer saying, “Yuck, what a nasty, cluttered website,” and “Wow, that’s a nice page, and I’m happy to get an incentive offer.”

Consider gifts instead of money

By offering a tool kit—which can still be exchanged for $25 or $45 dollars—instead of a gift card, you can make your offer more in line with your brand’s value. Consider going even further and offering local products, such as sports paraphernalia or tickets to the next sports event in town.

With sophisticated incentive programs, the consumer can choose the gift or the monetary equivalent—and it’s all handled digitally. It’s difficult to find products that can offer these types of incentives, but they’re out there.

Gift card incentives can be great for automotive lead capture if done correctly. It pays off, however, to invest in a smart system that knows how to target with class. This will get you more conversions while maintaining the quality and reputation of your brand.

Ilana Zur is head of customer outreach at AutoLeadStar, a lead-engagement platform for auto dealerships that specializes in person-level analytics and lead capture to convert more of dealer websites’ traffic into qualified leads. Ilana loves learning about new dealerships and partnership opportunities, so feel free to reach out to

Ilana Zur


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