Trigger Communications in the Auto Industry
The decision to buy, and how a brand might influence that choice, is a code we are constantly trying to crack for our clients. Lately we’ve been exploring triggered communications based on actions a prospect might take and all the factors that go into a successful triggers campaign. Today I’ll share a few trigger ideas for auto dealerships looking to enhance their buyers journey for prospects.

First, let’s look at two things that may help us understand how to approach triggers.


Traditionally, buying decisions may have been determined by auto review sites such as car and driver and auto trends, friends and family. (Nielsen tells us this is still the case), and of course, visiting the lot.
And while those are still part of the mix, a cohesive marketing strategy to attract buyers needs to include many other relevant channels. That mix could be digital and direct mail, OOH and TV, where content positioned as authoritative and enabling could be perceived as helpful and build trust.
Trust is something we’ve been paying attention to lately as it’s been changing in the US and we think this should influence how and where we communicate with customers. Something to keep in mind, and that we will dive into in following blog posts.


Timeliness of a communication is important, this doesn’t always mean “speed.” It means at the right moment. We often lean toward triggered communications as tactics that need to deploy immediately after an action. I’d like to be a little more thoughtful here and pause to think through the state of mind a potential customer might be in when they see that communication.

Now, let’s consider the following question for a prospect; when do we want to insert ourselves with a targeted message if they are in consideration mode? Is it only when they have taken an action like visited your dealer website, or even visited the lot?

Generating response is a fascinating subject to study for another time, today, we just want to provide a few triggers to consider, the associated prospect mindset, and recommendation on how to message.

  1. Dealership visit and test drive
    1. Mindset: prospect is past an awareness and consideration phase in the buyer’s journey. The recommendation here is to message with strong intent to buy. Email or DM is fine, but here is a prospect that is ready to make a significant investment into a vehicle. So why not consider a premium direct mail package with an incentive to close the deal?

  2. Prospect follows you on Twitter
    1. Mindset: there is interest in the brand with no clear indication they are looking to purchase or are current owners. In any case, some recognition here is important to begin building a relationship. The long game is a sale, or re sale. So even if the prospect is not ready to buy, or just beginning to explore the brand, start the relationship by acknowledging the follow with a timely thank you tweet, and providing engaging, targeted, consistent content through social.

  3. Prospect moves into the neighborhood
    1. Mindset: this one is a little less clear. You can imagine recent significant spend with the move and no clear indication of where they might be in the journey. This is awareness, and to be more exact, awareness with servicing messaging to conquer a potential existing relationship. It could be that it’s the beginning of a conquest and low investment tactics like email or value pack could be of best use.

    While we utilize similar tactics ourselves, as mentioned earlier, we are also beginning to explore relevant platforms to target our audiences on. We’ll get into that on a different post because the platform discussion (search, publisher sites, social) is taking shape in a way that reflects mindsets of users as they visit these platforms and there is much to discuss here.

    As you continue to evolve your triggers program, pay close attention to the mindset a prospect may be in when they receive the communication. We may not always know what a buyer is thinking and feeling, but triggers get us a little closer to messaging at the right time.