Today’s consumers are harder than ever to reach, and the options to help you connect with them are increasingly diverse and confusing. Building awareness along the consumers’ path to purchase, ensuring you’re “found” by potential customers, requires the use of multiple channels and a more targeted approach.
Chances are you’ve observed the marketing landscape shifting as new tools and providers pop up. Today the multichannel marketing world consists of hundreds of options for business owners. This landscape makes it tough for small- to medium-sized businesses to keep up with and identify the best options for their needs. So, how do you begin to navigate the constantly shifting digital marketing landscape? And how do you know you have what you need to be most effective with today’s consumers?
Here’s the primer we provide our clients to help them separate multichannel marketing into general categories and make the overall concepts more actionable:
• Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog
• Mass Media – radio, internet radio (Pandora), TV
• Direct Mail
• Online – paid search, website, videos, articles, blogs
• Physical Location (store itself)
• Text Messaging
• Reputation Management – Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.
It’s important to understand the various channels available to you whether you rely upon a marketing agency, use resources as part of your network affiliation, or try to do your own marketing. This information will not only help you focus your efforts, but it will also ensure you can have a productive conversation with your marketing provider.
Let’s look at each cross-channel option and why you might consider doing more with each.
Reputation management is the practice of monitoring what customers say about your business on the internet, taking a proactive approach to ensure your shop is positioned in the best possible light.
Reviews have become a primary resource for customers during the shopping process. Consumers generally start with a Google search and end up furthering their research Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List. Paying attention to your online reputation is becoming increasingly important.
Why consider it?
•92% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision.
• 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
• 23% of consumers will visit a physical business after reading positive reviews about it.
We advocate reputation management for every shop. Many of our clients who embraced this as a strategy have enjoyed double digit monthly lead increases once their star ratings improved from 2-stars to 3.5-stars.
Your website is one of the most important components of your overall digital presence. It should be your best salesperson – one that works 24/7, doesn’t take a vacation, can handle multiple clients at the same time, and closes the sale. Your website becomes the focal point for much of your marketing activity. An effective website can run like a finely tuned vehicle, helping make other components of your cross-channel marketing strategy perform even better. For example, after redesigning and launching a highly optimized website, Wiygul Automotive Clinic in Virginia saw their paid search conversion rates spike by 450%.
Search engine marketing (SEM), also known as paid search, is one of the fastest digital channels for generating leads and expanding your customer base. Paid search allows shop owners to target buyers actively searching for automotive repair and/or new tires.
Google is the dominant player in this arena, but Yahoo, Bing, and Yelp are also important platforms to consider.
Why consider it?
• Search engines are the No. 1 research tool for auto-service buyers.
• More than 100 million tire-related searches are conducted per month.
• SEM increases the chance of conversion by a factor of 20.
If done well, the results of SEM marketing can be terrific. For example, Gatto’s Tire & Auto Service in Florida experienced a 69% increase in prospective buyers in the first two months of our paid search campaign.
Social media is a broad term that relates to the sharing of information via virtual networks and communities. Facebook, YouTube, and blogs can all be lumped into the same category – and all are of interest for marketing your tire store.
Facebook: In the social media arena, Facebook is king, with the ability to reach more than 1.2 billion members. Facebook has an abundance of information on its users, allowing marketers to use hundreds of targeting factors including age, gender, location, vehicle ownership and income.
Facebook also allows you to better understand your customers by uploading your customer list, too. This is a great tool for any shop as it can offer you demographic information about your customer base.
Sponsored posts and more targeted content can also be pushed out to promote your business based on the information you provide.
YouTube: It’s getting tougher and tougher for businesses to attract users to their websites based on words alone. YouTube presents a unique opportunity because its users consume video content at breakneck speeds. Video content is highly engaging and sharable and, thus, ranks high in search engines.
Auto shops should consider creating their own videos – whether simply introductory, educational or promotional – in order to build trust and rapport with their customers.
Blogs: Blogs are a great way to routinely add content to your website. This content then is indexed on search engines and can help generate relevant traffic. It also helps consumers get a feel for business and areas of expertise.
Blog articles can also feed social media where the easily sharable content offers an added ability to generate traffic to your website.
In today’s digital world, marketers often say that direct mail is too expensive. But, as an experienced automotive marketing strategist, I know that print marketing can work and provide a terrific ROI. Marketing through couponing platforms such as Valpak, Valassis, New Movers, etc., can be particularly effective. Of course, it all comes down to cost.
Tip: Setting up your contract with a company like Valpak through your marketing agency can sometimes offer savings thanks to volume discounts.
No matter the emerging technology, email remains one of the most successful channels of marketing. According to Ipsos Interactive Reid Report, “91% of customers check their email every day.”
The challenge? Users are inundated with a steady stream of email communications, so in order to capture their attention you have to use email intelligently. A great subject line and solid purpose to the message can help ensure stronger open rates. Also, make sure you’re timely and relevant. Ensure your message is easy to read and displays well on multiple screen sizes. Remember that you only have a few seconds to engage once they open.
Search Engine Optimization
Great websites are meaningless if no one can find you. Search Enging Optimization (SEO) makes your business easier to find by ranking it highly in search results. SEO is generally a long-term effort that requires regular investment and patience (think running a marathon, not the 50-yard dash). Having said that, SEO can provide significant value over time so we recommend investing a small portion of your marketing budget in this strategy.
Mass Media (Radio/TV)
Radio and TV advertising are still solid methods to build brand awareness across a city or region; however, these channels require a significant investment. If you have the capital for a longer-term campaign, then you should consider these options as part of your mix as they can offer one of the lowest rates at cost per thousand views.
Text messaging offers high open rates since marketers haven’t inundated the users just yet. However, businesses should consider using this channel with caution. Text marketing campaigns should be executed with thoughtfulness and usefulness, without bombarding the recipient. We recommend using text messaging for customer retention and service reminders. It’s a promising method for minimizing no-shows and maximizing repeat purchase rates.
Last is your physical location. Your storefront can offer many opportunities for marketing. As described in the cover story of this issue, making an investment in clear signage, comfortable and clean waiting areas (preferably with WiFi access for customers), and signage that highlights current offers are now basic expectations for consumers. Clear the clutter and be sure your physical location reflects the quality service your customers should expect.
Taran Sodhi is the founder and CEO of automotive marketing consulting group, Conceptual Minds. He can be reached at [email protected].