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Digital Marketing with Messaging Apps for the Automotive Industry

Written by Jensen Lo

· Chatbot,WhatsApp For Teams,Automotive

According to a study published by Think With Google, nowadays, auto or car shoppers pay only two visits on average to the car dealerships in their journeys in shopping for their dream vehicles. This accentuates the importance of establishing a digital marketing strategy in the automotive industry as consumers today are carrying out their research via the internet and mobile to find a suitable vehicle before actually scheduling an appointment with a car dealership. While the idea of proposing a digital marketing strategy for your car dealership seems daunting, we have a few suggestions how you can start simple with your marketing strategy by using messaging apps and live chat.

Understanding consumer’s digital interactions in their car shopping journey

While most of the steps in a car shopper’s journey in purchasing a vehicle take place outside of a physical car dealership store, car dealers could still ensure a smooth and engaging buying experience for the consumers. The first step to provide an engaging buying experience for the consumers is to gain a full grasp on the customer journey of someone who’s interested in buying a car.

In the case study published in Think With Google, a car shopper takes a few months averagely for his or her research to identify a suitable vehicle before purchasing it. The car shoppers then would spend most of their time researching via Google Search to gain answers and reviews before they could decide on a potential list of cars that could address their needs.

The Think With Google’s case study has also shown that there could be as many as more than 900 digital interactions or “micro-moments”, as it was called, in a car shopper’s research journey. It was determined in the study that there five critical digital moments car dealers or auto marketers must excel to improve the conversion in the number of interested car shoppers scheduling a visit to their car dealerships. These five digital moments are:

  1. Which-Car-is-Best moments
  2. Is-it-Right-For-Me moments
  3. Can-I-Afford-it moments
  4. Where-Should-I-Buy-it moments
  5. Am-I-Getting-a-Deal moments 

Providing an engaging buying experience to your customers

As these five most critical moments or steps in your customer journey are identified, providing an engaging customer experience at each of these moments is essential to convince your customers to schedule a visit to your car dealerships. To build your brand visibility and customer connection, the use of messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, and also Live Chat features in your website should be integrated into your digital marketing strategy.

Today, there are still many car dealerships which are using phone calls and email as their main means of communicating with their customers during their car buying process. This has resulted in a high degree of friction in the customer communication flow. There are also some car dealerships which have embraced the digital transformation of the automotive industry and they aim to provide an engaging customer experience by developing their own apps. However, as effective as these apps are in reducing the friction, they might impose a challenge to the customers as they would have to download the apps and learn how to use them. In these critical moments in your customer’s buying process, any degree of friction in the communication could be detrimental to the conversion in the number of interested car shoppers scheduling a visit to their car dealerships and ultimately sales.

As most consumers today are adept in using messaging apps, the application of these apps as a digital marketing tool allows you to interact and engage with your customers without incurring any friction to your communication flow with them. Therefore, marketing through messaging apps and live chat could be effective to provide the best customer experience at each critical moment in the customer’s buying process.

Utilizing a virtual car shopping assistant

To illustrate how you could execute your digital marketing strategy through the use of messaging apps, we have reimagined the modern digital car shopping process by utilizing one of the most widely used messaging apps globally, WhatsApp and a chatbot. As how you would have a personal car sales consultant by your side when you visit a car dealership, we have designed our very own WhatsApp Car Shopping Assistant, Amy.

1. Which car is the best?

At the start of a car shopper’s journey, the car shopper is more likely not to have a specific car model in mind. Therefore, it is important to provide personalized assistance to your customers at the start of their buying process. The good news is you would be able to accomplish that without a physical visit to your car dealership.

For example, let’s say Jensen, a financial consultant who is usually occupied with work on the weekdays but loves to go on road trips with his wife and three children during the weekends. When Jensen starts his car shopping journey, he prefers SUV as it would allow him to have pleasant driving journeys on his road trips. Moreover, he would also like to have a car with good seat capacity for his three children to enjoy these comfortable road trips.

In today’s conventional car buying process, in Jensen’s research, he might do a few of these following activities:

  • Watch review and comparison videos on YouTube
  • Visit car manufacturer websites
  • Read car magazines
  • Visit trusted car review sites
  • Visit car listing sites
  • Seek for advices and opinions from his friends and family

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Jensen has a personal assistant who could help him to do all of these activities and gather all of the information in one place? With a WhatsApp car shopping assistant, Jensen would be able to achieve that with a simple text on WhatsApp.

Photo: Chatbot Malaysia

The personal assistant, Amy could help you in every stage of the buying process. In this case, Jensen would need some help in deciding which SUV vehicle is currently the best available in the market. Therefore, he could just ask for Amy’s help. Instead of just providing a generic selection of the best SUV vehicles, Amy recommends some of the most viewed and helpful comparison videos on Youtube to Jensen. These videos provide personalized assistance for Jensen’s research to determine a list of SUVs which gives him the best impressions.

Photo: Chatbot Malaysia

2. Is it right for me?

After identifying the best SUV vehicles available in the market, the next question Jensen might ask is “Are these cars right for me?”

In this stage, although Jensen has a personal list of favourite SUVs, he would ultimately have to determine if these cars would suit his needs, as a father who goes on road trips with his family on a frequent basis. To meet his most important requirement of providing comfort to his children during the long driving journeys, he needs a SUV which has the best seat capacity.

Photo: Chatbot Malaysia

Then, Amy would recommend another list of helpful Youtube videos to allow Jensen to determine the SUV models which meet his requirements and solve his problems through professional reviews and comparisons. Instead of searching “ the best SUVs for families” via Google or Youtube or asking for his friend’s advice, Amy offers the most suitable comparison videos to Jensen based on his requirements.

3. Can I afford it?


At this stage, Jensen would have probably decided on a number of SUVs which would be perfect for him and his family. Hence, he starts considering the financial aspects of buying a car. He would like to decide if the price points of these models would suit his preference.

Photo: Chatbot Malaysia

In deliberating over his preferred price points for his next SUV, Jensen might consider a few factors. Some questions Jensen could possibly ask is:

  • “Am I looking for the cheapest SUV?”
  • “Am I looking for the most famous model in which everyone is driving on the road now?”
  • “Am I looking for the best performing SUV?”

So, let’s say on this occasion, Jensen would like to determine the appropriate price point based on the performance of the car as he enjoys a smooth and pleasurable driving experience during these road trips. Amy would then determine the three best SUV models that meet the performance criteria. And, Amy would again direct Jensen to a video or a website which compares the features and pricing of these three vehicles.

4. Where should I buy it?

After hearing positive reviews from these videos, Jensen would decide that one of these SUV models could be perfect for him after comparing the prices. The next task the car shopper assistant should do is the most critical one - prompting Jensen to visit the car dealership for a test drive.

In this example, Jensen has decided that his top three SUVs would be Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-6. Therefore, he would like to schedule test drive sessions for each car with the dealerships which are located closest to his house.

Photo: Chatbot Malaysia

To book the golden ticket for the closest car dealerships, Amy recommends three of the closest car dealers for Jensen based on the car manufacturers. Furthermore, Jensen would be able to access the contact details of these car dealers. This allows him to identify the key contact person and finally schedule a test drive in his dream car.

5. Am I getting a deal?

The final stage of the car buying process is ensuring your customers that they are getting the best deal after months of researching and decision making. Instead of months of doing these researches themselves, employing a personal virtual car shopping assistant on messaging apps like WhatsApp as part your car dealership’s marketing strategy could allow you to capture your customer’s preferences and provide an engaging buying experience. This could set your car dealers up for success when your customers finally come for a visit. Therefore, these experiences help in convincing your customers that they are getting a good deal from you.

To go the extra mile in providing the best customer experience, you could utilize these messaging apps and chatbots to assist your customers to schedule the test drives and to provide post-test drive and post-sales support.

How could you utilize messaging apps in Auto Test Drive Booking? Or Post-Sales Support? Find out in 3 Best Applications of Chatbots in the Automotive Industry.


Looking for an integrated messaging platform for your Customer Support?Check out our brand new MULTI-CHANNEL Messaging Platform, YesHello. And Sign Up Now.

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