Having been the VP of Marketing for Car Loans Canada for over a year now, I’ve spent the majority of that time studying the automotive industry and learning about our customers.
When I started at Car Loans Canada, I brought with me a vast amount of digital marketing knowledge, but zero automotive knowledge. There was a reason for this — as a fintech company, our leaders were looking to disrupt the market with innovation and a beginner’s mind. They brought me in to be that fresh perspective, someone unbiased who could research the market from the ground up and reinvent our marketing strategy.
Thankfully, I had the Salesforce platform to guide me as I began my learning journey. With Social Studio, I was able to identify some substantial industry trends and opportunities that would be critical to our companies branding and overall success.
Discovering Industry Sentiment
After integrating Social Studio with Car Loans Canada’s various social media handles, we were able to monitor car loan-related topics. Having multiple topic profiles allowed us to segment and monitor different phrases used in our industry.
Before getting started, we had a feeling that most Canadians were somewhat negative towards the automotive industry, and we figured that sentiment would carry across to car loan companies, too. But the data showed us how big the problem really was. The average sentiment towards the industry was more negative than positive by a long shot!
Knowing the industry sentiment was one thing, but finding out exactly why it was so negative was another. It was our mission to determine why this was the case. Using Social Studio’s social listening functionality, we were able to locate conversations occurring in Canada real-time around auto financing and car loans to help us hone in on the underlying issues.
Our next step was using Social Studio to actively engage with the conversations from our company profile. If a person on social media said “I need a new car,” or “my car broke down,” we would respond to those comments with something clever like, “getting a new car is easier than you think”. If someone was asking questions about financing, we would provide answers to those questions. When people brought up car loans being a scam, we showed them what things to be on the lookout for.
People started interacting with our comments and asking questions. As more and more people joined, we noticed that there were consistent issues people were facing: while the market was often motivated for vehicle financing, their perceived ability of getting an approval was low. People were full of questions and doubt, and being able to identify and engage so easily with these potential customers on social media was a huge competitive advantage for us.
As a financing aggregator, it is our job to save Canadians hours of time. Rather than going to a dealership, finding the car they love just to be turned down for financing, we reverse the process like a Mortgage. We take the applicants information and our portal connects them with the best suited dealership. This helps ensure they go to someone who can serve their unique financial situation. The problem with this was a lacking feedback loop, dealerships didn’t always tell us when they sold a vehicle to an applicant of ours.
Because of this, we implemented a new Customer Success Representative (CSR) process. We would have CSR’s follow up with our applicants to determine if they got a vehicle. Believe it or not, this was not a common practice in the car loan business. People were more than happy to share their experience with our team. Even the people who did not end up getting the vehicle expressed how refreshing this follow up approach was. We then began creating tools such as our car loan calculator to support these people in their car buying journey every way we could.
The Brand Change
After listening to our customers on social media and understanding the challenges they were facing, we made the decision to change our marketing strategy.
Our competitors were sacrificing their integrity just to capture a prospect’s information, and appeared to have a very short-term mentality to the customer relationship. We were going for something much more: a loyal applicant database. We knew that our customers were sick of seeing 100% approval rates, or being shown a Mercedes-Benz when it was out of their price range. This was the root of why Canadians were so negative towards car loan companies, and the automotive sector in general. Companies were over promising and under delivering.
We saw this as an opportunity to innovate and re-brand. We wanted to be the transparent, white-knight figure the industry needed, and that’s exactly what we did. We produced educational content and advice people could count on from a non-biased perspective. We began developing marketing content around the conversations we saw, thanks to Social Studio, and could deliver this content to prospects by creating personalized journeys in Pardot Engagement Studio. We set expectations straight with our new material and it was well-received. People were glad to finally see an honest company!
Creating Loyal Brand Advocates
By having all of these integrated and trackable conversations, Car Loans Canada was able to offer a real-time customer experience centered on trust and a personalized customer experience. It allowed us to see the much larger picture and specifically the exact needs and wants of our average applicant.
If you’re looking for ways to better understand your customers’ pain points, begin leveraging these platforms to start listening to your existing customers and potential customers. By unifying our data, we discovered how to create loyal brand advocates.