How Valassis used bots on Facebook Messenger to drive offline auto sales
The program was successful because it also included qualified ad targeting and human follow-up.
Bots are often discussed as a kind of magic solution for marketers: scalable, customizable and attractive to millennials. Some of that is accurate, but as always, there’s a more complex story beyond the hype. There’s also the very real risk of poor execution.
A recent case study from Valassis is valuable for insight into what an intelligent use of bots looks like. Chatbots (on Facebook Messenger) were integrated into a larger automotive lead-generation campaign that involved careful targeting of prospects and human follow-up.
Valassis worked with Feldman Automotive Group in Detroit, Michigan, to drive leads and sales offline to local auto dealers. Valassis and a partner built a chatbot on Facebook Messenger for Feldman to help qualify leads.
Prospects were exposed to targeted Facebook ads in the News Feed. Audience members were in-market automotive shoppers. The audience was further qualified using location targeting: car shoppers within a specified radius of Feldman dealership locations.
Above is a demo of the flow. The user clicks on the “learn more” chat icon and is taken into the chatbot experience on Facebook Messenger. A series of questions was posed, leading to a contact request. The user was asked, “Would you like to connect with a real person?” If the answer was “yes,” a local dealer sales rep called the customer.
The pilot, which spanned several months, reached more than 100,000 people and was able to generate roughly 50 sales per month (purchases and new leases), according to Valassis’ Pehr Luedtke. He added that click-through rates on the Facebook ads were 4.5 percent to 5 percent, considerably higher than most automotive campaigns. He attributed this to the quality of targeting in the campaign.
As Luedtke points out, in this campaign, multiple elements all worked together: “a compelling offer, the right media and proper delivery.” Clearly, the bot experience was instrumental in qualifying leads and helping close sales. But it was only a part of a larger effort; all the elements combined, including human sales outreach, made the campaign effective.