Digital Marketing Basics for Automotive Services

For those who run an auto shop, reaching customers requires a robust digital marketing strategy. Traditional tactics, such as direct mail and door-to-door flyers, are no longer the main methods for reaching those who need automotive services. Instead, most consumers searching for auto services do so via their mobile devices.

To increase your digital reach while ensuring the most efficient use of your marketing dollar spend, check out the following digital marketing basics geared toward automotive services.

Understanding Your Audience

When creating a digital marketing strategy for your auto shop, the first thing you should do is put together as much detailed information about your audience as possible. For many auto shops, the goal is to reach a specific segment of customers, not just anyone off the street.

For example, your audience information might include:

  • Owners of specific vehicle makes — Does your auto shop specialize in luxury vehicles? Do you work exclusively on German imports? If you are looking to reach a niche group of auto owners, make sure you list this information.
  • Specific service focus — For some auto shops, the audience will be segmented by the services they are seeking. If you only offer oil changes, you will be targeting a different audience than a shop specializing in transmission rebuilds. Make sure you think through what services you wish to target.
  • Basic audience demographics — If possible, try to discover information about your customer base’s demographics. This should include their gender, age range, and annual income. This information can help you segment lists down the road, allowing you to create targeted messaging based on this demographic info.

Building an Optimized Website

Once you know your audience, it is time to build an optimized website. If you already have a website, do a quick analysis of the site’s effectiveness. Use the following guide to help you determine whether you need a rebuild or tweak:

  • Is your website cross-device friendly? Make sure that no matter what device a customer uses, your website is easy to navigate and responsive.
  • Does your website load quickly? According to Google, websites should load in two seconds or less. If your website takes a long time to load, this can affect your website’s rankings and deter customers from sticking around as well.
  • Is your website optimized for a custom set of keywords? You will need to optimize your website to rank for a specific set of keywords, depending on the services your auto shop provides, your location, and your target audience. Optimizing your website includes both back-end and front-end work. If you aren’t sure whether or not your website is optimized for search, reach out to an agency for a quick assessment.
  • Is your website up to date? Ensure that all the information on your existing website is still accurate. Pull down any services or specials you no longer offer.

If you haven’t yet built a website, it is time to create one. In most cases, working with a professional digital marketing agency will be the best route to ensure that the website is designed to be user-friendly and optimized for search. Having a website alone is not enough. It needs to be easily found through common keyword searches.

Establishing Your Social Media Presence

Gone are the days when a website is all you need to have a complete online presence. Many of your customers are using social media to search for local information. In fact, there are now 3.6 billion social media users worldwide, a figure that is projected to increase to over 4.4 billion by 2025.

With the number of users in the billions, there is no doubt that your customer base is on social media, which means that your brand needs to be present as well.

Start by claiming your business on relevant social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. When you create your business profiles, make sure to keep your brand image and messaging consistent across all platforms.

Beyond simply adding your business to social media channels, you need to ensure that you are active on these platforms and engaging with your customers.

It can be helpful to build out a content calendar ahead of time for your social media channels. This can make it easier to automate a lot of your ongoing posts.

However, be sure that if you automate your posts, you still have someone responsible for monitoring your channels. If a customer has a question, comments on your post, or reaches out via chat, you want to ensure you are responding quickly.

Image by Accion Opportunity Fund

Claiming Your Google Business Listing

In addition to claiming your business on social media, you’ll also want to claim your Google Business Listing. This listing is the profile that shows up when someone searches for your business via Google. It will also influence how well your business ranks for important keywords.

Claiming your Google Business Listing is simple. First, log into your Google account and visit Google Maps. From here, you’ll right-click on the map and select “Add your business.” This will prompt you to fill out some information about your business and lead you to a verification process.

Once you have verified your business, you will be able to manage your listing, including updating your business information, adding photos, highlighting credentials, and posting.

Your Google Business Listing also features a built-in messenger, which, when activated, allows customers to reach out to you via the listing profile. You can also respond to your reviews from your profile and answer questions that have been asked about your business.

To learn more about your Google Business Listing, visit our Step-by-Step Guide for Claiming Your Business Online.

Ensuring Consistency Across Platforms

Whether you are first creating your online presence or have a long-established online presence, one of the keys to digital marketing success is ensuring consistency across every platform.

For example, if your website states that you offer a service, the same service should be listed on your Google Business Listing. And, if you have designed a branded logo, you should use this logo to represent your business on every single platform.

Similarly, if a customer uses your Google listing to call your team, they should receive the same information and same service as they would if they contact you via a social media messenger.

The goal is to create a cohesive digital presence that strengthens your brand in the eyes of your customers. You want every digital interaction to help build trust between you and your customer.

Running Paid Ad Campaigns

Most digital marketing strategies will include at least one form of paid ads. While ranking for keywords organically is a great long-term strategy, you will often need to accompany this with paid ads to drive leads immediately.

The most common ways to run paid ad campaigns include the following:

  • Google Display Ads: One of the most powerful ad platforms is the Google Display Network. This network allows you to display ads across the web, following your customers as they read articles, watch videos, or visit other websites. With Google Display Ads, you can reach over 90% of the internet’s users across over two million websites.
  • Google Pay-Per-Click Ads: Another Google product, Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads are served up to users who search for businesses or keywords on Google Search and Google Maps. This method of ad campaign allows you to only pay for clicks to your websites or calls to your business.
  • Facebook Ads: With more than two billion people using Facebook each month, advertising on Facebook is a great way to create and run campaigns. This platform features easy-to-use self-serve tools and allows you to track your ad performance each month. From boosting posts to serving up ads to segmented audiences, Facebook makes it easy to target both new and existing customers.
  • Instagram Ads: Similar to Facebook Ads, Instagram allows you to boost posts, target lookalike audiences, and more. Relying heavily on visuals, this is a great tool for increasing brand awareness.

Regardless of which platform you choose, make sure that you set up your campaigns to target your specific audience segment. When possible, pull customer data out of your own CRM to feedback into your campaigns. You can even use existing customer data to build lookalike audiences. These highly targeted audiences will perform much better than simply running ads to anyone in the local area.

The goal is to continue to tweak your paid ad campaigns to make the best possible use of your money. You can adjust your spend every week, allowing you to remove customer segments that don’t perform well. Additionally, you can ramp up or down your spend based on specials you are running, the seasonality of the business, or what your competition is doing.

Measuring, Reporting, and Analytics

In business, it is only through measuring, reporting, and analyzing data that you can ever improve upon your efforts. After laying the foundation for your digital presence, you need to continually measure the success of what you have done.

Whether you are running your digital marketing strategy in-house or working with an agency, be sure to pull weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.

These reports should provide clear insights into what digital channels are producing the greatest ROI. You can take both a micro and macro approach to your data analysis.

For the bigger picture, you’ll want to look at how much you spent on campaigns, what leads converted into sales, and your total amount of earnings based on digital marketing efforts.

On a more micro level, you will want to dive into what channels receive the highest level of customer engagement, what landing pages are seeing the most traffic, and where customers are exiting the purchase funnel without scheduling a service.

Through ongoing measurement and analysis, you can decrease your marketing spend while increasing your reach.

digital marketing basics visualized

Choosing a Trusted Partner

For many automotive shops, handling each component of digital marketing is impossible to do in-house. Often, there is simply not enough time in the day for a business owner or manager to tackle everything that needs to be done to reach customers online.

Additionally, the world of digital marketing is constantly in flux. What worked one year ago will probably not work as well in a few months. This means that to keep up with the competition, you are required to spend large amounts of time researching the latest trends.

This is where choosing a trusted partner can be the ideal way to get the most benefit out of digital marketing spend. A quality digital marketing agency will be able to advise you on where your business needs improvement, as well as continue to keep your strategy up-to-date.

At J&L Marketing, we are passionate about helping those in the automotive services industry create a robust digital marketing strategy. We will be happy to assist you with everything from website optimization to running paid ad campaigns that lead to sales. Talk to our team today to learn more about our services.

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