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Alexa, play “Wheels on the Bus.”
And so it began. Three weeks ago, I invited Alexa into our home. Within minutes, my three-year-old daughter mastered the artificial intelligence tool/toy from Amazon called Echo, which is powered by the voice recognition software known as Alexa.
Soon, our stereo was pumping out Raffi kids' tunes and telling my daughter — over and over and over — what the weather would be like today.
This is just the beginning. Artificial intelligence (AI) is entering our homes, our Internet browsers, and even our car dealerships.
AI is an emerging trend in 2017 (as our upcoming free webinar will highlight). Increasingly, car dealers and automotive marketers will rely on AI for basic communication with customers.
Here's what you need to know about AI for auto dealers.
What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence in the automotive marketing world refers to using machines to handle basic tasks. The goal of AI for auto dealers is to lower staffing costs and provide superior service at all hours of the day.
AI is already active on many websites we visit. On Facebook, for example, you can book a hotel without talking to an actual human. If you message Hyatt on Facebook Messenger, its “bot” will tell you the hotel's availability, list your price options, and help you find your room — all without having to talk to a human.
Even more fascinating is that AI is creating content that we read every day. The Associated Press is utilizing AI to write sports stories for minor league baseball teams. By taking the box scores from a game, the AI software is able to put together a legible story for readers.
HubSpot, which provides marketing automation software, is also jumping aboard the AI train. It just released a GrowthBot that integrates with Slack to provide answers to marketing questions without having to go to Google.
Image credit: PC Mag
Why AI Matters for Automotive Marketing
Artificial intelligence is helpful for businesses because it provides reliable service at all hours of the day (or night) with no salary involved.
For car dealers, AI could provide price and information about a vehicle, just like Hyatt does with hotel rooms. AI could potentially write articles about your inventory to help people find you on Google. AI could even converse with your customers and gather information in a progressive way, which has a much higher conversion rate than traditional forms.
In short, AI can improve customer service and digital marketing for auto dealers. (And it won't make spelling mistakes, either!)
How Auto Dealers Can Get Started with AI
Artificial intelligence isn't coming. It's already here. Just ask my daughter.
The easiest place for auto dealers to start with AI is on platforms that have crowdsourced bots already created. That way, you don't have to create your own.
Facebook Messenger is the perfect place to start. Auto dealers can take advantage of one of more than 11,000 bots available online. If a customer is on your Facebook page — or, better yet, if you drive them to your page from a Facebook ad — they can begin chatting with your store via your AI bot.
Your chat bot can take a variety of roles. It can simply start the conversation with a potential customer (not much different than current chat programs on dealer websites do now). Your bot might list your hours or explain how long it will be before they can chat with a live sales rep.
On the other end of the spectrum, your chat bot can converse based on the customer's questions. The bot would be driven by goals to get key pieces of information.
For example, an auto dealer would want its chat bot to get the customer's name, email, and ideally phone number by asking a series of questions. The chat bot would try to drive the customer to a vehicle detail page (VDP) or finance page. If the bot got stuck or didn't have an answer, it could then alert a salesperson or tell the customer that the store will get back to them soon.
Edmunds already released a chat bot that does exactly this (along with promoting Edmunds inventory, of course).
As always, tier-three dealers will be competing against third-party lead providers, who will be using bots to drive traffic away from specific stores and instead to their walled gardens of inventory. Car dealers will need to learn the AI game to continue to compete against the aggregators.
The Future of Automation for Car Dealers
Many in the automotive space are discussing self-driving cars. However, automation is coming to more than the vehicle itself.
If my kitchen is any indicator, AI has already entered the automotive digital marketing space.
Car dealers should continue to strive to provide the best service possible for potential buyers. The only difference now is that the best service might come from a robot.