How Marketing Automation Has Transformed The Customer Experience at Car Loans Canada

Don’t be the person holding a shovel when everyone else has a backhoe.


With constant buzzwords like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine-learning being tossed around like salad, what is real and what isn’t? I’ll tell you one thing — marketing automation is 100% real.

My name is Jesse Perreault and I’ve spent the last decade exploring what works and what doesn’t in digital marketing. After reading an automotive Facebook IQ article mentioning that 86% of people want to engage with brands post-purchase, my team wanted to use marketing automation to do exactly this. We wanted to build relationships with our car loan applicants, rather than stopping communication as soon as they are pre-approved.

Let’s look at some of the incredibly effective ways that marketing automation has helped Car Loans Canada improve lead generation, grow customer relationships, and scale our business.

Welcome Nurture

We wanted to make sure our car loan applicants felt more like people rather than leads. What is more welcoming than a welcome email?

But what if we could do more than just send a simple welcome email? What if this welcome email could be tailored and personalized to each individual customer based on insights we collected about them throughout the application process?

This is exactly what we were able to do with Pardot. The first step was converting visitors into known prospects and collecting prospect data points with forms and landing pages that matched our qualification criteria. From there, Engagement Studio allowed us to automate personalized welcome journeys using a series of triggers, actions and rules.  

Within 48 hours, an applicant would be asked by email if they were contacted by our Approval Center and about their experience so far. Within a week, we would be asking them if they received a vehicle, and if so, did they get the vehicle they wanted? The feedback we gained through this was incredibly valuable, as it showed us the common issues related to applicants not converting to customers.

We also created a dynamic list that would reference a specific Account Record Type ID within our CRM, Salesforce Sales Cloud. Because Sales Cloud had records for various parts of the business, the Record Type ID allowed us to focus primarily on Car Loans Canada. We then made sure that a suppression list was created to avoid any past applicants from getting a welcome email.

Now, everyone who completes the application receives a welcome email, which allows us to create a personalized journey from start to finish and convert applicants to happy customers.

Consent Nurture

One problem we were facing at Car Loans Canada is that we had a large list of contacts that had not been contacted for a while. Before we started emailing them again, we wanted to reach out and re-capture consent.

Given the age of our list, we assumed a lot of people would opt-out, but to our surprise, many were still interested.

Rather than just hitting them with an “Are you still interested in a car loan?” message, we gave the user multiple choices. Based on the buttons they selected, they would opt-in to journeys specific to their selection.

For instance if someone selected the “I want to improve my credit score” option, they would enter a journey specific to our credit rebuilding program. Perhaps they just wanted to receive information relating to the automotive industry — those prospects would go into our education nurture.

And speaking of education nurture, let’s talk about the journey we created to inform and empower our applicants.

Education Nurture

In an industry that is highly saturated and often questionable from an ethics point of view, Car Loans Canada wanted to become a trusted advisor. To do this, we wanted to bring transparency, entertainment and education to those seeking auto loans.

In this journey, we would send content regarding vehicle recalls in Canada, minimum loan requirements,  and videos of applicants talking about how having a vehicle changed their lives for the better. We also started producing valuable blog content that we could share with our customers throughout this nurture program.  

With an abundance of content, we would split test frequency of content to identify how often to send. Once we obtained an ideal frequency, we looked at what type of content was being engaged with and made sure we sent only relevant content. We saw a pretty significant spike in our website traffic with this journey as it commonly pointed to our website where content was hosted.

Abandonment Nurture

We have a multi-step application process for Car Loans Canada applicants. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to an “abandoned cart” effect where prospects don’t finish submitting their application.

To tackle this issue, we set up virtual pageviews in Google Analytics to track the drop off on each step of the application. We were able to see that we were losing a substantial quantity of applications mid-application. Thankfully we collect consent from user’s mid-application to email them.

Looking at our Time Lag report in Google Analytics we saw that a decent number of car loan applicants convert many days, weeks or sometimes months after their first interaction. This insight supported our exploration of the abandonment nurture.  

We would email the users with a message displaying “Didn’t complete your application with us? Talk to an agent immediately to get the answers you seek”. This messaging was split tested along with various buttons and landing pages until we found a sequence that was effective. We received hundreds of applications from this that otherwise would have been lost business.

Although something like an abandonment nurture program is a fairly common practice in 2019, it doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Whether you sell a product, a service or both, it’s a great way to increase revenue.

The results of marketing automation

These are just a few examples of journeys we implemented. The combination of these nurture programs ultimately increased our lead generation, improved our relationship with applicants and produced invaluable insights for our business.

Pardot’s Engagement Studio made journey building a very simple task. The clean look and UI made it fun to create triggers, rules and actions. Being able to test the journey prior to launch provides peace of mind and ensures every step of the process works exactly as we expect it to. The ability to see what is happening relative to time elapsed was very beneficial, especially when we saw how critical time sensitive content was.

With Pardot, the possibilities are truly endless and Engagement Studio becomes a bit of a playground of sorts after you start digging into it. But this time instead of having a shovel, you have a backhoe.

Learn more about Pardot customer success.

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