How to Market in Today’s Digital Age
It’s not hard to market your shop digitally, but it does take some thinking and planning.
Keeping your bays full and your technicians busy is harder than ever today. Old “tried and true” methods of marketing and advertising just don’t seem to resonate with today’s consumers. Stabilizing your car count and your profits requires you to learn how to do “effective marketing in the digital age.” In the old days, consumers looked for services using the Yellow Pages, and got news about their world and community from newspapers.
Today, consumers look for services using computers and mobile devices including phones and tablets. They stay connected to their community (friends and family) using Facebook and other social media services.
The purpose of your acquisition marketing is to start building business relationships by turning consumers into customers. The purpose of your retention marketing is to continue building relationships with your customers and turn them into clients who come to you for all their automotive needs on a regular basis.
To make sure you’re marketing effectively in today’s digital age, I suggest you focus on three key areas:
• Your in-store customer buying experience
• Your presence on the Internet, including your website and your search engine business listings
• Your social media presence using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.
Effective marketing starts by making sure your “customer buying experience” is outstanding. Once they try you out, they’d better want to come back for more services on a regular basis!
You have six opportunities to turn one-time customers into long-term clients:
• Their pre-visit phone call
• When they drop off their car
• During your sales presentation after you’ve checked out their car
• When your customer comes back to pick up his or her car
• After their visit, with effective follow-up
• When they receive your “next visit” reminder
In the old days, if customers didn’t like you, they might tell a few friends. Today, if they don’t like you, they’ll tell everyone in your community and the whole world with negative reviews. A fancy website and constant posts on Facebook won’t help you, if customer reviews on Google and Yelp say they don’t like you or trust you! Anyone with a smart phone can write a review about you instantly, even while they’re still at your shop. Make sure they love you so their review will be positive and help you reach new customers.
Creating An Effective Website
To create an effective website, you need to make sure potential customers can get the information they’re looking for, right away. Most consumers look at a website for 15 seconds or less, and most never scroll to the bottom of the page!
There are six critical messages you want to convey right at the top of page one of your website:
• Your company name
• Where you are located
• What you do
• Why they should buy from you
• The credit cards you accept, and
• How to reach you right now!
Here’s the kicker: You need two versions of your website. One optimized for computers, another optimized for mobile devices including smart phones and tablets. These days, more consumers search for services using a smart phone than a computer! You have little chance of getting their business if they have to zoom your website on their phone to be able to see your content and find your phone number!
Optimize Your Business Listings On The Internet
A perfect website is useless if consumers can’t find your site when they’re searching the Internet. That means you need to optimize your business listings on macro-search engines including Google and Bing, and micro-search engines including Judy’s Book, City Search and, most important, Yelp! Why care about Yelp? Because Apple uses the Yelp database to tell consumers about your business on iPhones and iPads!
If possible, you want to be on page 1 of a Google search in your area! Eighty percent of all searches on the Internet are made using Google. Why be on page 1? Because only 3 percent of consumers ever click past page 1 if they don’t find what they’re looking for. They simply redefine their search term. So how do you get on page 1 of a Google search?
First, your website has to be written with content for consumers and Google has to find the website useful. The old search engine optimization methods of building websites with “keyword density” don’t work with today’s Google search algorithms. A real person at Google actually reads your website to see if you provide useful content. You have no chance appearing on page 1 of a Google search if your site doesn’t make sense, or worse, is exactly like a lot of other websites because your web designer used a template! If you’re in a densely populated area, or if your shop isn’t near the center of your town, you may have to pay to appear on page 1 by paying for “pay per click” advertising with Google AdWords! You can find your true position on a Google search by using a website like http://www.sitemapdoc.com/Serp-Rank.aspx.
Optimize Your Google Page
Want to meet new customers every week? Then take the time to claim and optimize your Google page. Start by visiting “http://google.com/business/google.com/business/.
Search for your business name and address, then verify you’re authorized to edit your Google page. You can add your website’s address, additional phone numbers and hours you’re open for business. You can also add how to contact you by email and with instant messaging services.
Once you optimize and save your Google page, you can view insights of how you’re reaching consumers and even get started with Google AdWords.
Reach New Customers With Social Media
Don’t just stop with Google+. You can reach and build relationships with consumers and customers using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube too!
The important thing to remember when using social media to build your brand is: be social. Be genuine. Don’t just be the impersonal face of a company. Share photos of you and your friendly staff. Upload photos of happy customers on Facebook, and “tag” them to reach all their Facebook friends for free! Upload some fun videos to make your customers want to come visit you! And, if you’re having trouble reaching new people, you can invest a little money in paid ads on Facebook and Twitter to reach specific groups of people in your area!
Reaching today’s consumers requires you to learn and master new skills. Taking time to establish and maintain your presence on the Internet will help you keep your bays full, your technicians busy, and your profits rolling in.
You can get more information of how you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising by visiting our website, http://www.autotraining.net.
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of management articles contributed to AutoInc. by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) program.