Personalization is critical – and achievable - for a successful online car sales strategy

February 23, 2021 Hassan Syed

Until recently, the automotive industry has been one of the few holdouts from the digital revolution. Long thought to be one of the last remaining vestiges of in-person shopping, car dealers have largely held out delivering a true online buying experience.


But in a world where 80% of customers are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalized experiences, according to an Epsilon study, they are finally learning the truth: that consumers are more and more likely to buy a car online. Some car retailers are adding online options, and some companies have moved the complete buying process online.

But there are still some gaps. Automotive customer data tends to be trapped in silos at various physical and digital touchpoints, giving us an incomplete view of customer engagement data, making it difficult to derive meaningful insights. 

To personalize online car sales, sellers must create an integrated customer persona that includes a 360-degree view of the engagement with the OEM’s digital estates, other touchpoints like auto finance, aftersales service, connected car, and all the external sources like dealerships, social networks, and Tier 3 data sources. This kind of personalization maximizes customer lifetime value and, most importantly, sales conversion. We should do all this without compromising privacy and compliance.


Digital content personalization in the online car buying journey will significantly improve the customer experience. Instead of showing the same images of the car to all the online car store visitors, the experience could be tailored to the customer persona. For example, a sports enthusiast is shown images of the vehicle with bike rack accessories or towing capabilities. A working mom is shown images highlighting gas mileage, storage capacity, and features like cup holders.

Personalized customer incentive is another area to focus on. Leveraging information like customer loyalty and past interactions with the OEM brands, presenting a targeted incentive offer will entice them to make the purchase online. This will positively impact customer satisfaction, improve conversion rates, and save on the marketing and incentive costs.

This personalization should carry throughout the car buying journey, including the test drive where the customer preferences like seat settings or Spotify playlists can be preset in the car. The car’s virtual assistant can welcome the customer by name and highlight features based on the persona. The virtual assistant can enrich customer 360 data with feedback during the test drive that can also help cross-sell/upsell additional services or features in the car.


Salesforce’s Marketing, Commerce and Customer 360 Cloud platform provides an ideal response to the hyper-personalization needed to bring an existing customer and prospect buyer by providing an engagement engine which enables OEMs to create targeted sales promotions, incentives, campaigns and post sales retention solutions.

Customer 360

Provides a “Gold Record” based on a concept of Global Party Id (GPID). GPID is a unique identifier describing a sell-to, market-to, or service-to relationship. Audience builder within the C360 platform enables granular-level segmentation to drive various campaigns.

Marketing Cloud

Marketing Cloud can take the segmented data from C360 and further refine subscriber data by applying finer, more granular segments based on subscriber attribute data (such as lifestyle, color preferences, and family structure). This level of hyper segmentation allows Marketing Cloud to define journeys and dynamic content to drive the journeys. Marketing Cloud enables campaign effectiveness, open rates, click rates, image/color/URL effectiveness, A/B testing and opt-In, opt-out capabilities for GDPR/CAN-SPAM compliance. 

Commerce Cloud

Using the same GPID generated in C360, used in Marketing Cloud and if a prospect/customer lands at an OEM website for sales, services, the GPID brings end to end linking of campaign effectiveness and resulting in sales and support transactions. This is a platform where Wipro Salesforce Practice “Click-Shift-Buy” solution also gives prospects an immersive buying experience, using a seamless AR/VR experience for car buying.  


About the Author

Hassan Syed

Hassan is an IT executive with over 20 years of leadership experience in leveraging technology and people to transform and grow small to large scale businesses. Hassan holds five Salesforce certifications, two Conga Certifications, and several others from Apttus and Vlocity. Hassan is an expert in starting new business ventures from Lead to Cash functions and has built large teams in North America, Europe, Asia (India, Malaysia), and South America (Mexico, Brazil) with a sharp focus on execution across organizational KPIs and metrics.

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