In the automotive sector, when most people hear “Machine Learning,” they immediately think of self-driving cars – which are very far off for the average dealer and buyer. But there is a discipline within automotive where machine learning has already become a reality: sales and marketing.
Two years ago, when we started offering our first machine learning-powered marketing solutions, dealers looked at us like we had two heads. Machine Learning? Artificial Intelligence? Aren’t they for scientists? It took a lot of explaining before dealers understood that we masked all the complexity of machine learning, which worked in the background to help make our targeting models accurate, and that they didn’t need to be data scientists to use it.
Now, when we’re talking to dealers, some will ask us right from the start, “Does your software leverage artificial intelligence?” It’s become a feature that they look for, rather than a foreign (and frightening) concept. Those who don’t ask upfront do recognize what artificial intelligence is when we bring it up. A lot can change in two years.
The primary benefit of machine learning is its ability to process huge data sets quickly and accurately, and find patterns in those data sets that are beyond the capability of a human brain. Alexa, Siri, Netflix and Pandora all use machine learning to personalize services to your tastes. Over time, as they learn more about you, their recommendations become more and more accurate.
Auto dealers can leverage the same technology to better understand buyer preferences and individualize their sales and marketing in order to move more cars. Specifically, dealers can use machine learning to:
- Understand what buyers want and what other options they are considering
- Target and retarget more effectively
- Match buyers with the most appropriate inventory
- Individualize offers
- Automate next marketing steps to move customers along in the sales process
Overall, the goal is to sell smarter by leveraging data.
So how can dealers use machine learning and artificial intelligence? Fortunately, it’s easy, because platforms are available that act as your ‘data scientist in a box.’ You don’t need to have an expert on staff.
There are already marketing-related offerings for auto dealers that leverage machine learning. Capabilities include helping dealers determine who is in market, and matching individual consumers with the inventory that will appeal to them most.
These solutions have been proven to accelerate buying cycles and drive incremental sales, and can be used by dealer marketing staff with little or no expertise in artificial intelligence or machine learning. There are also some interesting new machine learning-powered options for marketing attribution that can help dealers definitively measure the impact of each marketing program and channel.
If your dealership isn’t yet using or exploring machine learning-powered marketing technology, the time is right – new options have put it within reach of every dealership.
Author: Craig Vore
A ten-year veteran of Outsell, Craig Vore helps drive strategy and product direction for the company’s auto-specific marketing automation solution. Prior to joining Outsell, Craig was a supervisor at MarketLine Research. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota