Harley-Davidson Boosts Digital Marketing With AIBy Ariella Brown | Posted 2016-11-23 Email Print
The Harley-Davidson brand of motorcycles is an American icon. But this iconic brand didn't go it alone: It got a marketing boost from artificial intelligence.
Harley-Davidson of New York City is responsible is responsible for all deliveries purchased from its two New York showrooms (in N.Y.C. and Long Island City) within the New York and New Jersey areas. The company has an e-commerce website managed by an internal team, and it sends emails to existing customers.
Asaf Jacobi, president of Harley-Davidson of N.Y.C., realized that this approach wasn't cutting it. "We are in one of the top markets in the world, but our sales weren't competitive with the other top markets," he observes.
He realized that though the company's target market amounted to only two percent of the population in the New York City area, reaching them through traditional advertising entailed also targeting the 98 percent of people who were not their market. "This was very expensive and not very effective," he reports.
Jacobi decided that digital marketing was the way to go. The problem was working out how to approach it. "I'm not a marketer," he says. "I'm a motorcycle guy. Sales, business operations—that's what I do."
After doing some research, Jacobi discovered artificial intelligence technologies working in the sales and marketing space. Among them was Adgorithms with its AI platform, "Albert."
"Then I had a synchronistic moment," Jacobi recalls. On a walk, he met "this guy, Or, and started chatting with him." That was Or Shani, the CEO of Adgorithms. When Shani explained what he did, Jacobi "told him I had been planning to be in touch with him."
So it was the combination of planning and serendipity that formed the basis of the business relationship between Harley-Davidson and Adgorithms.
An All-in-One Campaign Dashboard
Harley-Davidson NYC started using Adgorithms in the spring of 2016. That entailed integrating its leads metrics and prospect data from the Hubspot content management system with the sales data and analytics from its website and CRM system to achieve an "all-in-one campaign dashboard." The company now runs all digital campaigns through Albert, including paid search, display, email and social media efforts.
Using existing customer data, Albert comes up with what Jacobi describes as "lookalike customers," who have "similar demographic and behavioral profiles as our highest-value customers." After the AI system identifies the lookalikes and their behavioral patterns, it learns what these individuals do and don't respond to.
This is a very fast process. "We're not talking about months or years of observation," he says. "This is hours and days." That fast turnaround brings fast and dramatic results for the business.
Albert also works to identify customers and micro-segments. For example, Jacobi says that the program might look for a "segment of users who spend one to two minutes on the site, and begin targeting them, knowing that they're engaged prospects." It can also disregard visitors who leave the site within 15 seconds because that indicates a lack of interest in the product.
The AI system can customize responses, determining which calls-to-action and creative combinations work for individual customers. It also can extract information about particular segments, such as, "This group of customers is responding to headline A." Then the integrated system is used to deploy what is effective without needing to have a person direct it.
Key Metrics of Success
That kind of agile responsiveness makes the system work well both for ongoing marketing and burst campaigns. A burst campaign was the first one done with Adgorithms.
In late spring, the company typically has stock it wants to move. Jacobi said the team came up with the "48 Bikes in 48 Hours" campaign as a way to move more inventory than usual—just 5 bikes on the best of weekend sales. The company tripled that with the campaign, which was considered a great success.
Beyond that burst campaign, Jacobi shared other metrics of success after the first three months of deploying Albert. They include the following:
• The company credits 40 percent of motorcycle sales to Albert.
• It's in the process of hiring a team (approximately 6 new employees) and building a call center to manage potential new customers.
• The average daily website visits have increased by 566 percent.
• Leads increased by 800 percent during the first month, and 15 percent were lookalikes (valuable leads resembling previous buyers).
• Leads increased by 2930 percent the third month, and 50 percent were lookalikes.
That track record was enough to inspire several other Harley-Davidson franchises to consider applying Albert—and for Jacobi's company to expand its resources to accommodate the leads it's generating. He hired a six-person sales team and is working on building a call center.
However, Jacobi does not anticipate having to invest in more technology. "The idea behind Albert, which I've experienced firsthand, is that you can start decreasing the number of marketing technologies you need, rather than increasing them," he explains.
"This not only makes my life easier, it's also the most effective all-in-one solution that I've ever had."