Unlike many industries, which rely on outbound marketing strategies to sell customers on a product they may not currently need or want, the auto shop industry has a large amount of opportunity for capturing those who are already interested in their services.
When someone’s car breaks down or their oil is due to be changed, they will either return to an auto shop they know and trust or look for a new place for services. They don’t need to be sold on the idea of servicing their car; they simply need to know where to go and what shop will offer them the best deal or service.
As an auto shop, you must understand how your customers are searching for auto services in your area and what you can do to capture this key audience segment, who is prime and ready to convert. In this guide, we’ll focus on how you can increase your reach by targeting your customers the first moment they begin their decision-making journey.
1. Via Google Search
Long ago, consumers put down their phonebooks and picked up their mobile devices to locate service businesses in the local area. And when a customer starts their search for an auto repair shop, the odds are high that they are using Google to locate nearby businesses.
In fact, as of December 2021, Google accounted for over 86% of global online searches, making it the biggest search platform by far.
The moment your customer hears a strange clanking from their engine or realizes that their vehicle is overdue for an oil change, they will pick up their phone, open their browser, and use Google to search for services in the area. This is why so many businesses focus their efforts on ranking on the first page of Google and why it holds the market share of ad spend.
If your auto repair shop doesn’t show up on the first page of Google, it will make a significant impact on your ability to reach new customer segments and prevent your competition from stealing existing customers.
At the center of your marketing strategy should be a focus on how you can use Google search to your advantage. When you harness the power of Google, you can dramatically increase the number of leads walking through your door.
2. Through Social Media Channels
In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide. And what started as a way to connect with family and friends has turned into an all-encompassing experience that has grown to include business interactions.
People now use social media to not only scroll through their newsfeeds and chat with friends but also to research local businesses and interact with brands online.
For auto shops, having a social presence is a must. This social presence can help in two key ways:
- It can help to ensure that your business is found when a user searches on a social platform for auto shops in the area.
- It allows you to stay top of mind for existing customers. The more active you are on social media, posting frequently and offering value to your customer base, the more you will be able to create loyal customers.
Additionally, social media continues to rise in popularity as a method for contacting a business with a question. If you have social media channels, make sure that you are managing them and are prepared to respond to customer questions right away. This can go a long way in helping you take over a digital arena that many local auto shops ignore.
3. Across a Variety of Devices
In our omnichannel world, customers are comfortable hopping from device to device as they search for a service. A customer might begin their search for a nearby oil change on their smartphone, and later, they might do additional research on their laptop while working.
Because your customers are looking for your auto shop across a variety of devices, your web presence must be accessible on any device. It is also important that you funnel customer data from one channel to the next, ensuring a seamless experience.
If you haven’t taken the time yet, sit down this week and test out your website and social media pages on a myriad of devices. Make sure that everything is optimized to be easily navigable regardless of the device being used.
Key areas to focus on are your online contact forms and your scheduling tool. Often, these two items are difficult to use on mobile devices, which can lead to a drop-off in conversion rates.
4. Using “Near Me”
When customers look for businesses, particularly those offering a service at a physical location, they tend to pair their keyword search with the qualifier “near me.” The hope is that the results surfaced will only include businesses within a nearby range.
For auto repair shops, showing up for localized searches that include this qualifier is imperative. This is where your Google business listing and keyword tagging give you the chance to outrank your competition.
By setting up your Google business listing to include the services you offer and keeping your listing updated with ongoing content, you can increase your chance of ranking in “near me” searches.
Additionally, it is important to ensure that your business information is consistent across the web. If you have any outdated listings with different addresses or phone numbers, you can decrease your chance of ranking in “near me” searches. Take the time to comb through your digital presence and look for any discrepancies.
Why Targeting Customers During Search Is Critical
In all of the above methods of searching for your auto shop, customers are at a stage in which they are actively seeking out your services. This offers your auto shop a wealth of opportunities. When you market to someone who is already actively seeking your services, your ability to convert them into a sale is much higher. There is less resistance and more desire to make a decision.
For this reason, focusing on how you can reach customers during their earliest stages of search is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available for auto shops. As your auto shop looks to increase your reach, use the following key takeaways to capture critical search traffic:
Key Takeaways to Capture Search
1. Invest in Organic Search for Long-Term Profit
Running ads is an effective tool in the short term to get your auto shop out in front of customer segments. However, long term, to run a profitable marketing strategy, you’ll need to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your organic rankings.
For auto shops, you’ll want to focus on the most used keywords in your area and ensure that Google recognizes what area you serve. Not sure what keywords to target? Work with a digital marketing agency to pull a list of relevant keywords in your area. This can help you focus your efforts on the right optimization.
When a customer searches for an auto shop nearby, they will usually only pay attention to the results that are surfaced on the first page of Google. If they are using a mobile device, Google map listings will play a critical role in converting them to a scheduled visit.
Ranking organically takes time, and it takes a constant, steady effort. It includes everything from optimizing the speed of your website to adding critical metadata to the backend of your site.
If you aren’t sure where your auto shop currently ranks, it can be helpful to work with a marketing agency to assess where you stand today and create a proactive plan to improve your rankings over time. Often, a large amount of progress can be made simply by having a professional take a look at what you’re currently doing well and what needs to be improved.
2. Make to Claim Your Google Business Listing
In regards to capturing local search, there is nothing more imperative than claiming your Google business listing. If you haven’t already done so, take the time today to go through the process of claiming your listing.
Read more about claiming a Google business listing: Step-by-Step Guide for Claiming Your Business Online – J&L Marketing
When you manage this critical listing, you have the opportunity to provide Google with important information about your business. This information will be used to ensure that the customers in the area see you. It can also be used to promote deals, answer questions, and manage reviews.
3. Double-Check the Accuracy of Your Google Business Listing Information
If you already have claimed your Google business listing, make sure it has been updated recently. Check the accuracy of your contact information, store hours, and website.
According to Google, over 50% of auto parts and service shoppers who use mobile search call an auto shop directly from the search result. If your information isn’t accurate, you could be missing out on critical leads.
4. Produce Valuable Content
Content is one of the best ways to not only boost your organic rankings on Google but to draw in customers who are searching for answers. Content can include any of the following forms:
- Social media posts
- Live events
- Google business listing posts
However, while producing content is one of the keys to improving your online reach, you need to do so with a firm strategy in place. Content for content’s sake alone won’t help you convert leads. Instead, every piece of content produced should be based on providing value to your customer base.
Examples of content that can help not only target customers during their search process but also offer value that increases brand trust include the following:
- A video by a lead mechanic highlighting the importance of an oil change
- A blog that offers tips for the frequency of routine car maintenance
- A social media post that reminds customers how to book a service in a matter of seconds online
- A live event where a mechanic answers common customer questions
- A Google business listing that showcases a service promotion
Talk to J&L Marketing About Capturing Online Search
Every day, customers in your area pick up their mobile devices and search for mechanics nearby. If your auto shop is not taking advantage of customer search, you’re missing out on countless leads.
At J&L Marketing, we specialize in helping local businesses increase their ability to be found online. From improving your organic rankings on Google to helping design custom content, we work with auto shops to put together a comprehensive marketing strategy.
When you work with our team, your time is freed back up to focus on running your business. We provide comprehensive reporting and analytics, ensuring that you have a finger on the pulse of your marketing efforts. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our team for a consultation. We look forward to helping you capture online search.