Growing your auto body shop requires a wide range of range of skills including managing and motivating people, streamlining operations, providing a level of customer service that builds word-of-mouth referrals and a loyal customer base, and much more.
In this digital world we now live in, growing a business also requires a well-rounded toolkit of internet skills. This includes being able to implement a stellar body shop marketing strategy that helps generate a steady stream of potential customers interested in bringing their cars to you for repair.
In today’s connected world where virtually everyone uses the internet and social media, the quickest and most cost-effective way to accomplish this goal is through digital marketing. Plus, all your actions and activity can be tracked with precision.
Digital marketing offers several important advantages for small business owners with limited marketing budgets:
Digital marketing uses many platforms to connect with a very wide audience. These platforms can be customized to fit the unique marketing needs of your business.
Digital marketing can be changed and updated at very little cost.
Easy ROI tracking
Digital marketing makes it easy to track how many people open and read your emails, how many people visit your website, and other key digital marketing metrics.
Perhaps most importantly, digital marketing allows you to engage in a two-way dialog with prospects and customers. For example, you can answer questions and respond to customer comments on your website, Facebook business page, or Yelp! listing. This interaction helps create relationships with potential customers, often before they even come to your business; and show others you are engaged and care. It also helps maintain and build relationships with existing customers.
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The Top Three Digital Marketing Channels
One big advantage of digital marketing is the number of different channels available to reach out to potential customers and educate them about your business. A channel is a medium for communication or the passage of information. Each digital marketing channel contains a unique set of tools and techniques designed to accomplish specific goals.
For example, most people are familiar with social media. Within this channel, the tools consist of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp!, and others that allow your business to interact with your target audience in different ways. This interaction enables you to accomplish a wide variety of marketing goals – from “big picture” strategies like building your brand to tactical efforts like announcing special offers to boost sales of a particular product or service – in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner.
Channel #1: Organic Traffic
Organic traffic is the global term for the ongoing stream of people who come to your website as a result of unpaid searches from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It is one of the most important and foundational aspects of digital marketing, and actually has an entire industry – SEO marketing – built around it. SEO marketing is the process of optimizing your website to move up higher on the rankings of major search engines. The higher the ranking the more traffic your site.
To get an idea of the importance of organic traffic, research shows that it represents up to 64% of the total traffic on a website. That means almost two out of every three visitors to your website come from unpaid search listings. Unless you opt to buy a paid search listing (the opposite of organic traffic, called paid search or paid traffic), search engines do not charge your business to appear on their websites. However, they rank your site according to how well you optimize it, which means making it easy for their “web crawlers” to find your site and determine its relevance to the person conducting the search. If you are not on the first or second pages of a search site, the number of people clicking on the link to your site dramatically declines.
The Advantages of Organic Traffic
Aside from minimal cost to implement, organic traffic provides the following benefits:
Consistent SEO rankings
A website optimized for organic traffic tends to draw a steady stream of visitors, which keeps your search engine ranking consistently high.
Higher conversion rates
According to the Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a 14.6% conversion rate compared to the 1.7% conversion rate of outbound leads such as direct mail or print advertising.
Pay-per-click (PCP) campaigns may produce quicker results than organic traffic. But, once you stop the campaign, the results decline as soon as they started coming in. Organic traffic does a better job of sustaining results over the long term.
Get in good with Google
Like them or not, Google is the 800-lb. gorilla in the search engine market. Implementing organic SEO will increase your chances of ranking higher on their site, which is easily the #1 search engine.
Increasing Your Website’s Organic Traffic
To drive more organic traffic to your site:
- Learn how to optimize key search words on your site.
- Provide content (blogs, articles, etc.) that is relevant and meaningful to your target audience.
- Use local directories to augment the giant search engines. Sites like Moz and Uberall are ideal for small auto shops.
- Use Yext to manage everything from web listings to customer reviews about your business.
- Use Google my Business to post a profile about your business, for free.
- Use the latest link-building techniques to increase your SEO presence. Google and other search engines love links to other online content that are relevant to your site.
The importance of organic search for small businesses can’t be overstated. In addition to high ranking on the major search engines, it also builds trust and credibility, increases brand awareness and attracts new visitors to your site. Doing it poorly or ignoring it altogether will give your competitors a big edge in the market.
Channel #2: Social Media
In terms of importance to your marketing efforts, social media runs a close second to organic search. It provides a very effective way to increase brand awareness. It offers many effective platforms for advertising your business. It creates more visibility of your content. It also increases SEO rankings while driving more traffic to your website.
Most important, social media allows you to market at the individual level by making it easy to engage, interact and build relationships with prospects and customers.
Social media lets you engage in two-way communication with your target audience so you can better understand their needs and market directly to them. Personalized marketing not only increases conversions, it also builds loyalty to your business and your brand.
Another advantage of social media is the ability to “push” content to prospects and customers. Instead of waiting for them to come to your website, you can post informative blogs and articles on social media sites. When people read your relevant content, it encourages them to visit your site to learn more about your business.
Social media also provides a great tool for building specialized marketing campaigns. Suppose you want people to know about the charity/volunteer work your business supports. Social media lets you quickly and cheaply post announcements, ads, and other tools to support the campaign.
Increase Your Social Media Presence
Follow these tips for a winning social media strategy for your auto body shop:
- Claim the social media profiles for your business. Consider Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Google My Business as priorities
- For a brand new Facebook page, run a page likes campaign with some marketing spend to grow your page following
- Write a unique business description for each of these profiles
- Link back to your website
- Have a consistent posting schedule. Try to share content at least twice a week
- Share high-quality content. Before and after pictures, community engagement event information, industry news and so on all make for good content
- Interact with your audience. If someone leaves a comment or message, make sure to reply promptly back.
- Consider a social media ad budget. For important content, boost your posts with some spend.
Channel #3: Online Paid Advertising
Paid Internet ads, also known as pay per click (PPC) marketing, provide important benefits for auto body shops. They create first-page exposure on the top three search engines. They drive immediate and consist traffic to your website. They can be easily targeted by location and audience. PPC ads can also be scheduled so you run them at times when they are most effective.
Perhaps most important, PPC adds are much easier than organic search to change, test, optimize, and track results. This allows you to determine the most effective ads for your audience to maximize results and get the biggest bang for your marketing expenditures.
Paid advertising is one of the more technically complex aspects of online marketing, with a wide variety of tools and channels for achieving different marketing goals. Four of the most important channels include:
These are advertisements displayed on a web page. Also called “banner ads,” they include images as well as text, can be static or animated, and can include audio and video. Clicking on a display ad takes the viewer directly to the landing page for the product or service.
This form of paid media creates an ad experience that looks and feels like natural content rather than obvious ads. Native advertising often uses video to immerse the viewer in an “experience” surrounding the product or service rather than just reading a static ad.
On average, about 2% of traffic converts on the first visit to a website. Retargeting is designed to help you reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away by keeping your business and your brand in front traffic after they leave your website.
Offered by Google, this website offers tools and techniques to help optimize your paid online advertising efforts and achieve more digital marketing goals.
The downside of paid advertising is you pay every time someone clicks on your ads. The upside is that people don’t generally click unless they’re interested in learning more about your product or service. Because of the cost, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about this aspect of online marketing before launching a PPC campaign.
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Digital Marketing Checklists
Working together, organic traffic, social media, and paid online advertising are highly effective in building traffic to your website and converting more visitors to customers. If you’re wondering where to get started, these checklists can help.
- Make your website Google-friendly by using crawlable, accessible URLs.
- Identify the keywords and phrases people use when searching for your type of auto shop.
- Post quality content on your website that addresses what searchers are looking for.
- Publish compelling title tags and meta descriptions on your website.
- Appropriately place primary, secondary, and related keywords in your content.
- Use rich snippets and schema markup to enhance content.
- Optimize landing pages on your website for fast loading.
- Define your audience.
- Create sharable content.
- Create separate strategies to optimize your use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Yelp!.
- Organize and perform social media tasks by the day, week, month, and quarter.
- Respond to inbound social messages.
- Monitor social media for keywords that apply to auto body shops; then engage with any messages mentioning those phrases.
- Track how your competitors use social media.
Online Paid Advertising
- Define your target audience.
- Identify where your audience “hangs out” on social media.
- Create a budget and determine how much want to pay for each click on your ads.
- Create and publish ads that speak to your audience.
- Test different versions of each ad.
- Track and measure results.
- Adjust and adapt your paid online strategy based on those results.
Whether you do it yourself, bring someone on staff to manage it for you, or outsource to a marketing firm, digital marketing absolutely works. Doing it consistently and well will create a real competitive advantage to help your business grow.
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