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How Artificial Intelligence Helped Harley Davidson Boost Sales

Like a lot of other products out there, motorcycles tend to experience decent sales only on a seasonal basis. So, it’s not uncommon for motorcycle companies to experience a slump every now and then. However, iconic motorcycle manufacturer, Harley Davidson, decided to beat the slump this time by switching to artificial intelligence.

The company’s New York City branch ran its first AI Campaign called “48 Bikes in 48 Hours.” The entire campaign was managed by HD’s AI platform called “Albert.”

Prior to employing Albert, the company only managed to sell about 8 bikes during the weekend. However, Albert managed to bring that number up to 15. Albert was responsible for almost 40% of the NYC Unit’s sales during the first six months and HD now plans to hire around 6 employees just to keep up with the leads generated by the AI.

Albert’s Approach

In the first three months, Albert had managed to bring in an average of 2,930 fresh leads every month. This was possible because the AI machine was busy correlating the online behavior exhibited by certain leads with their likelihood of conversion.

Prior to that, HD NYC was limiting its audience to persona based segments i.e. according to age, location, and gender. This reduced their customer base to just 2% of the city’s population.

Albert had also identified that Facebook ads with product views garnered better conversion rates. Upon realizing this, the system automatically discontinued low-performing ads and applied the product view approach to newer ads. The system even identified that ads with the word “Call” performed better than ads with terms such as “Buy.” Albert’s stellar performance has now convinced HD to adopt the platform for more of its units across the country.

One of the most interesting things about the AI is that it is capable of identifying micro-segments. For instance, AI can identify users who spend a certain period of time on the site and place them into a category that is ripe for targeting while ignoring visitor segments that spend less than 15 seconds on the site. AI can also determine what message/communication combinations work best for each individual customer and provide suggestions based on this insight.

Albert also leveraged HD’s CRM data to identify lookalike leads. The AI created profiles based on the CRM data and matched new leads with those profiles. The AI goes one step further and observes the behavior of these targets to learn about their likelihood of being prospective conversions.

Serendipity

The plan to implement AI for driving sales came after HD realized traditional methods weren’t simply working anymore, especially with regard to the NYC market. The company also struggled to leverage digital marketing options effectively. This led HD NYC’s CEO, Asaf Jacobi, into exploring all other options possible.

It so happened, around the time, Jacobi had come across some news reports about the applications of AI in the marketing and advertising arena. After reading those reports, Jacobi knew that the solution could be found in AI.

Soon afterward, Jacobi, during an evening walk, ran into a stranger who, coincidentally, happened to be the founder of a company called “Albert.”

The rest is history.

Jonathan Furman is the principal of Furman Transformation.

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