Artificial Intelligence Is Changing How Dealers Connect with Customers
Today, vehicle shoppers and owners are being torn in numerous directions. From the countless online car-buying sites to competing dealerships vying to acquire the same used vehicles and service chains offering quick service for low prices, it is as important as ever to meet consumers where they are. And, where consumers are is on their phones, as we see increasingly every year. In fact, according to Statistica, in 2021, roughly half of all internet usage was accessed via mobile devices, namely smartphones and tablets.
With this information, it is obvious why leading companies from various industries have made the move to include short-message service (SMS) marketing, which also is referred to as text message marketing, into their marketing plans. SMS marketing utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) or hybrid intelligence (a combination of AI and human intelligence), to constantly search an organization’s database to connect with customers in a quick, efficient and effective way.
For those who are unfamiliar with or intimidated by the growing trend of AI in marketing practices, it actually may be more prevalent in their lives than they previously thought. Think of the last time you purchased something online. Did the company — whether it was clothing, home goods or even a meal kit company — ask for your phone number in exchange for a discount on the order, or when you were creating an account? Perhaps you shopped around on their site for a while, gave them your phone number, got distracted by something else and didn’t end up completing your transaction. You may have later received a text message from the company you were shopping with to remind you there were items left in your online shopping cart. This is SMS marketing in action.
Text vs. Email
While consumers are especially familiar with this strategy from a quick swipe through their email account, experts believe email marketing has recently become crowded and less effective — especially as email service providers, such as Gmail, have begun to categorize marketing emails from companies into a separate “promotions” folder. This lessens the chance potential customers see your marketing materials.
As Jason Girdner, the CEO of automotive marketing company TECOBI, wrote in a recent article for AutoSuccess titled, “Text Messaging vs. Email Marketing,” “Many people mass-delete marketing emails each day, and yours can get lost in the shuffle.” Email marketing still has an important place in business’ overall marketing strategy, but by relying on email solely, you could be missing out on key customer connections.
One company that has found immense success utilizing SMS marketing in the automotive sector is Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships, a seven-location dealer group based out of Central Texas. Dealerships like those owned and operated by the Nyle Maxwell group use SMS marketing to reach out to leads, keep a constant stream of conversation with buyers before, during and after the buying cycle and give customers information about service updates and promotions.
Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships partners with TECOBI to spearhead the dealer group’s SMS marketing practices. According to Thomas Eggers, Nyle Maxwell’s platform digital director, “TECOBI has been the biggest game-changer in our business and more than anything else in the past three years.”
So, what is so “game-changing” about this technology? For one, it is a huge step up from the limited SMS services offered by CRM software, Eggers noted. Typically, CRM follow-up procedures stop communication with customers after seven or so days. Considering the manpower it would take to continue to manually reach out with every potential customer past this seven-day mark, it is not shocking that dealerships, such as the Nyle Maxwell group prior to working with TECOBI, would stop communication at that point. Now, Nyle Maxwell’s sales team is connecting with customers days, weeks and months past the previous norm of seven days. “We are communicating with more customers overall,” Eggers revealed when asked what the biggest difference TECOBI has provided to the dealership.
TECOBI’s software remains on top of a dealership’s sales team in order to maintain the most effective communication. After a certain point in a customer interaction, it is necessary for human intelligence to take over the AI communication (hence the term “hybrid-intelligence”) because there are certain customer questions or concerns best answered by a salesperson. Once a customer is turned over to the sales team, the software continues to monitor the interaction to assure the customer’s questions were answered. If it is a busy day and for one reason or another, a customer gets lost in the cracks, TECOBI steps in. “[The TECOBI team] monitors and brings to our attention something that might have been overlooked such as a customer’s message to us,” explains Eggers.
In the time of vehicle and chip shortages and growing competition through digital retailing, creating the best possible relationships with consumers is the key to staying successful. While there are a multitude of trends to stay on top of in the ever-evolving automotive sales world, SMS blasts are here to stay. Investing in a partnership that assists your dealership’s customer communication through practices like SMS marketing should be top of mind when reevaluating marketing strategies.
It worked for the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships, after all. Eggers concludes, “I hear from salespeople daily that they sold a vehicle only because TECOBI never stopped following up with the customer and this was the only reason they were able to connect and make a sale.”