9 Texting Tips for Automotive Shops

Texting has become a powerful tool for businesses looking to market their services more directly. With text message open rates as high as 98%, contrasted against 20% open rates for email, it is easy to see why texting is an effective means for reaching your audience.

Not only are text messages more likely to be open and read than an email or other correspondences, but consumers are becoming increasingly interested in communicating with businesses via text. According to research, 90% of consumers would like to use texting to stay in contact with a company, and 85% of consumers want texting to be used as an open line of communication, allowing them to both receive texts from a business and reply to that business.

For automotive shops, texting can be used to increase scheduled services, promote brand loyalty, and build a trusted relationship with valuable customers. But to make texting an effective marketing tool, there are a few guidelines to follow. Check out the following nine tips before employing texting at your auto shop:

1. Make Sure You Know the Rules

First and foremost, you need to ensure that your automotive shop is complying with all federal guidelines regarding sending communications to your customers via text. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has passed a series of regulations regarding texting and phone calls between businesses and customers. Falling under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), regulations regarding SMS marketing require explicit consent from customers to communicate via text.

According to this act, email and texts sent to a mobile phone require written — not oral — consent from the consumer.

When asking a customer to opt-in, you will need to provide a few key pieces of information:

  • Your business name
  • The proposed frequency of texts
  • An easy method for opting out

When in doubt, work with a team that specializes in TCPA compliance before you begin a marketing campaign that utilizes text messages. It is critical to set up your SMS marketing campaigns in the right way to ensure that you are not only compliant with the law but also that you are building trust with customers — not creating ill-will.

2. Create Messaging Based on Audience

Similar to other marketing strategies, SMS marketing needs to involve careful consideration of your audience. Rather than blasting out a text message to every customer who has ever visited your automotive shop, you will want to build a few audience segments that will help inform your messaging.

For example, you might have a segment of customers that are extremely attentive to their vehicle’s preventive maintenance. Quality and the ability to schedule services quickly might be a top priority for this audience segment. In this case, your text messaging might include friendly reminders about upcoming maintenance needs, with the ability to text back a requested appointment time.

Another example of a customer segment might be a price-conscious group that focuses on reactive repairs rather than scheduling repeat maintenance. For this audience segment, marketing tactics might need to focus on providing information about specials you are running or might feature quick links to videos about common vehicle issues based on the audience’s vehicle types.

The better you understand your audience, the better you can tailor your message for each segment of your audience. This will also play a big role in the style of voice you adopt for your messages. A more casual tone might land better when you converse with a younger demographic. But when you send a text to an older demographic, you might need to implement a more formal tone.

3. Reach Out (But Offer Value)

Many companies are still hesitant to adopt text messaging as a marketing tactic, feeling that it is too invasive or could be considered an annoyance. Perhaps your auto shop has fallen into this line of thinking, worrying that by texting your clients, you’ll actually drive them away.

Today, however, consumers are extremely receptive to receiving text messages from businesses. Not only are customers appreciative of receiving messages via text, but they prefer to receive offers, confirm appointments, and schedule new services via text.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your text offers down to a maximum of two offers a month. If you text your customers more frequently, you could run the risk of having them unsubscribe. However, on the flip side, if you do not reach out to your customers on at least a monthly basis, you are in danger of being forgotten.

For auto shops, landing on the right frequency is key. This will help ensure that you do not miss routine maintenance windows and prevent your competition from stealing your customers between visits.

Additionally, it is equally important to ensure that you provide value when you text your customers. Make sure that you target your customers with timely communications that offer added convenience or provide relevant deals.

Texting Tips

4. Provide an Open Line of Two-Way Communication

Texting is about far more than simply pushing a communication out to your customers. It should be about opening up a two-way line of communication.

When implementing an SMS marketing strategy, make sure you have a method for receiving texts back. And, once you open that line of communication, be sure you attend to it.

Good etiquette for text communication includes:

  • Responding quickly: Due to the nature of texting, people expect a rapid response when they message you. Make sure that you focus on cutting down the length of time between receiving a message and responding.
  • Communicate clearly: When responding via text, ensure that you communicate clearly. Avoid abbreviations that may be confusing, and when you need to explain something more complex, consider asking the customer if you can give them a quick call.
  • Be courteous: Texting can feel more informal than a face-to-face visit or a phone call. However, when you text with a client, you are still representing your brand. Always be patient and courteous, providing high-quality customer service even via text.

5. Include a Clear Call to Action

When designing a text message for your automotive shop, make sure that each text contains a clear call to action. There should always be a precisely defined goal for the texting campaign, and it should be simple for your customers to take the desired action.

For example, if you are offering a coupon for a routine oil change, the goal of your text message is to get your customer to schedule an oil change at your auto center. In this case, you’ll want to include this call to action in your message, paired with a simple way for the customer to take action.

Your text might read, “Return customer special. Get 20% off your next oil change! Tap the link to schedule your service using coupon code TEXTDEALS2022. Have questions? Text us back!”

Before you send a text to your customers, review the copy and look for your call to action. If you have a hard time understanding the goal of the text, so will your clients.

6. Always Double-Check for Errors

You should treat SMS marketing in the same way that you would email or direct mail marketing. Every message sent to customers should be professional and error-free.

Before you set a text campaign into motion, go back through each proposed message. Check for spelling errors, grammar errors, and readability.

Not only will errors paint your business in a bad light, but they can cause your text messages to come off as spammy. In a world where people are constantly barraged by robocalls and scams, it is critical to ensure that your text messages are differentiated from spam.

7. State Who You Are

Similar to how errors in your texts can cause you to come off as a scam, not including your company’s information can have the same effect. Make sure that it is easy to identify your brand every time you send out a message.

By including your business’ information in each text, you can help increase brand awareness. Texting with customers is a great way to build a trusted relationship, but your customer has to know who you are for this to have a positive long-term effect.

8. Focus on Your Timing

Timing is one of the most important keys to making your SMS marketing campaign a success. This is particularly true in the auto shop industry, where customers often schedule services based on their vehicle’s mileage and time of year.

When possible, use detailed data about your customers to create texts that reach them at the perfect moment. For example, if you have a segment of customers who visit you on a bi-monthly basis for an oil change, it makes sense to send them any promotions or scheduling reminders a week or two in advance.

Additionally, as you approach a new season, use text messages to encourage customers to schedule a tune-up, swap out summer tires for snow tires, or perform a weather-related maintenance task.

In addition to the big-picture, think about the specific hour you send your text messages. If your audience segment consists largely of those who work traditional 9-5 office hours, it might make sense to schedule your texts to go out after work hours. This will allow your customers to have the time to read and respond to the message.

While it is acceptable to send texts outside of traditional business hours, keep in mind that you want to avoid sending messages too late at night or too early in the day. The only exception to this rule is when you respond to a customer who reached out to your customer service team via text. In this case, responding immediately is best.

9. Analyze the Data

As is true with any marketing campaign, the best way to improve upon what you are doing is by pulling weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports that highlight key metrics. Metrics to analyze include the following:

  • Open rates: How many texts are being opened and read? Focus on which texts are your high performers. What do they have in common?
  • Unsubscribe rates: Do you see a trend in messages that lead to customers unsubscribing? If you notice that particular promotion or message did not land well, it can help inform your next campaign.
  • Click-throughs: If you have a call to action that includes clicking on a link, measure how often that action was taken. This can help you analyze which calls to action were most compelling.
  • Response rates: If you allow customers to respond to a text, how often did they take you up on this line of communication? In addition, measure the time it took for your team to respond.

Need Help Texting Your Customers?

When used well, texting can be a powerful tool for auto shops looking to market their services to both repeat and new customers. At J&L Marketing, we can help you learn more about setting up a successful SMS marketing campaign.

Our goal is to help you remain compliant while using texting to your best advantage. We will assist you with:

  • Segmenting your customers into clear audiences
  • Creating compelling messages with clear calls to action
  • Creating a brand voice and tone that will help instill trust between you and your clients
  • Pulling detailed reporting on your efforts, adjusting your strategy based on the results

Interested in learning more about using SMS marketing for your auto shop? Reach out for a consultation with our team today.

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