Kia's early success in click-to-message search text ads, which Google announced Monday, has become the start of an innovative journey to increase customer support through mobile, search ads, artificial intelligence and chatbots.
David Schoonover, senior manager of CRM and digital marketing for Kia Motors America, said the car manufacturer has been testing click-to-message search text ads with various partners on and off for about two years, but began testing the process with Google about six months ago. LivePerson's technology supports the back end that will allow the company to launch a chatbot.
Despite success with its click-to-message search text ads, the mobile technology put Kia and consumers through a learning curve. "We had to change the words in the copy, so people understood they could send a text chat message to connect with us," said Schoonover, adding that the cost per click works similar to other AdWords programs.
In the coming weeks, Google will make available the click-to-message ads to other brands. The ads, which are similar to click-to-call, bring the efficiencies of messaging to search ads. By setting up a message extension, brands give consumers an easy way to reach out through a text message to begin a conversation and continue it whenever it is most convenient for them.
The ads allow Kia customers to directly connect to service agents by clicking the “text” icon on Google’s home page. Consumers who see a sponsored search result can tap the messaging icon and immediately start a text message conversation with the advertiser, to make a purchase or get information. This directs the consumer to chat with an agent via SMS.
The goal for Kia is to build trust and create a higher level of communication with Generation Y customers within 12 to 18 months, Schoonover said. Longer-term, he sees the technology being integrated with video -- for example, with video calls.
Kia will also soon launch a chatbot supported by artificial intelligence, incorporating LivePerson's back-end infrastructure with Facebook's chatbot technology. The messenger is not yet tied into a CRM file, but Kia will keep a record of the conversation that the car manufacturer can analyze. Schoonover doesn't believe in the "fire and forget" philosophy, so when he builds a project from the beginning it must have the resources to examine the interactions and optimize the process.
Similar to LiveWorld's technology for Facebook Messenger, announced Tuesday, LivePerson will help Kia launch a customer service feature that also hands off chatbot conversations to humans when needed.