It never sleeps. It doesn't need lunch. And it's among the sharpest marketing tools in a dealer's arsenal.
Armed with artificial intelligence, a dealership can laser in on the right consumers at the right time, based on how shoppers click — or don't — and hit them with different kinds of crafted messages that are written, sent, responded to and tracked by computers and marketing software.
Marketing backed by AI can reach out with emails, on social media and via direct mail to activate previous buyers, fill dealership service bays and fire up new prospects.
Retailers find it cost-effective and profitable to use AI's targeted marketing and massive number-crunching capability vs. grunt tactics, such as hiring more staff, or scattershot media, such as TV, print or paid search.
In a 2019 study by Cox Automotive, 68 percent of consumers indicated that they didn't mind dealers using personalization technology "if it improves the overall vehicle-buying experience."
"In fact, 76 percent of consumers expect their dealer to know something about them before they walk onto the showroom floor," Cox said. Despite that, Cox also found that only half of dealers knew "a lot" about automation and AI.
Enter the third-party vendors. One on the leading edge of dealership AI is Outsell, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm. It doesn't replace dealership staff but rather adds muscle to efforts by existing staff with personalized sales and service messaging. More than 1,500 dealers subscribe monthly to Outsell's service.