Seems like there’s an algorithm for everything in our data-driven age. Mobile apps are marvellous – they can call you a cab, make you money , and even help you meditate. So, ponder this new move in the world of car sales marketing, if you would.
Cars.com is now using individual preference to match customers up to cars that they actually want to see and car salespeople they would actually want to talk to. A lot. Would you swipe right for the right ride or guide?
Cars.com’s proprietary algorithm works similarly to the way other ‘suggestion’ services do. Think of how Netflix watches what you binge-watch and then recommends more content that you discover you really enjoy, or how Spotify offers you playlists of music you’ve never heard based on what you’ve been listening to, and you find you really like (most of) it. So why not for car sales? Maybe because car buying is a little more serious than casual mobile dating?
The thing is, data is very serious stuff (and also very accurate) and “dating behaviour” of liking or disliking something is a novelty tactic in the automotive sector, it’s not the first time data has played matchmaker for consumers.
Tailored marketing has already been used to successfully match products and buyers in other industries, like fashion. Clothing e-tailer Stitch launched a game that uses intelligent A/B testing in March 2018. It simply asked its website’s users to pick their favourite of two items and then refreshed the pair to create other combinations. The game gathered lots of information about their shoppers in a fun, effortless way, and also compared shopper tastes to be able to infer style preferences that a user hadn’t even voted on. The data gathered helps the system make more relevant suggestions of items or looks that customers haven’t bought yet. Hoping that dating apps could be a bit smarter that way, hey?
Last year, cars.com started matching clients with cars, “using intelligence-powered (AI) vehicle matchmaking platform to help streamline its car shopping experience” Marketing Dive reported. It really stands out in the crowded automobile marketing space, as this ad illustrates…
Not one to stick around in first gear, the company has recently developed a system to personalise what is already personal, but on the other end. The website is now matching customers to the right car salesperson using a software called Salesperson Connect.
This is because “a recent survey by Cars.com found that nearly two-thirds of customer respondents said a salesperson who can relate to them personally and understand their needs would have an advantage in closing a car sale.”
In a bid to empower the consumer, Cars.com offers social insights on car salespeople. A potential customer who is looking for someone to help them buy a car can see past customer reviews, user ratings and the salesperson’s personal profiles and then choose who they prefer.
So, after the software matches you to the perfect Mercedes, it lets you choose if you prefer to take advice from a twenty-something lady driver whose knowledge of engines awes customers, or the guy next door who gets five stars from seniors and millennials alike.
Cars.com lets you choose, and, what’s more, it’s working. “Salespeople who have been matched with potential customers through Connect,” comments Marketing Dive, “report an 89% higher close rate than they saw previously.”
Let’s hope start-up geniuses come up with something similar that can help you find the best mechanic for the job…
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