In this article I will talk about advanced transmission repair marketing techniques including Google Places ranking, managing bad reviews, advertising to used car lots, gift card marketing, YouTube videos, mobile-oriented websites, Google AdWords landing pages, text-message to your customers and linking AdWords to Analytics.
First, Google Places. The first step: Have you claimed your Google Places listing yet? If you haven’t, you will want to verify your Places listing with Google. Now it is time to optimize. There are many ways to optimize your page but the most important is to fill out everything completely. Make sure you have a description that covers all of your services, especially if you also do general repairs. Put all of those keywords in there, such as brakes, engine repairs and air conditioning. Photos are also important–if you have some high-quality pictures of your shop and your team, be sure to add those on there. Link your YouTube channel if you have videos online. Also be sure to update your Street View picture if Google has it wrong-this will help customers to find your shop. As a side note, MOZ Local offers a service to optimize your local listings on all the major sites.
On to reviews. Reviews are a touchy subject–they can either really help you or really hurt you. Whether you have any negative reviews online or not, every shop could use more positive reviews. Not sure how to get them? Whitespark has a free Review Handout Generator you can use to make a PDF to give to customers after they leave your shop and it walks them through the Google review process. Google “whitespark review handout generator” to download a free one. Another option is to set up a desktop or tablet in your waiting area where you can direct customers to place a review. The good thing about Google Places is that they rank reviews by date. So if you have negative reviews, they eventually will go to the “next” page after you receive enough positive reviews to fill the first page. Removing bad reviews completely can be a complicated process but it is actually possible on Google.
Have you slacked off on marketing to car lots? Every shop could use a couple extra wholesale accounts. If you do not have the time or motivation to go lot to lot and meet the owners in person, an easier technique is to e-mail the car lots directly and ask for their business. (Unless you love cold-calling!) Go to the Used Car Dealers section of YellowPages.com in your town. Hit the More Info button, then Email Business. You can keep your e-mail short and to the point: “Do you need any transmission work?” or offer them a deal to help land the account “First one we’ll do labor free.” or get creative. Make sure to have a link to your website in your e-mail signature so they can check out your site. There are tools you can find online you can use to automate this process, but I’d recommend not using bulk email programs like Constant Contact or MailChimp because the emails will look like bulk mail and we all know where bulk mail ends up. When you run out of car lots to contact, you can move on to business categories that have fleets.
Gift card marketing is a no-brainer if you do (or want to do) general repairs. Who throws away gift cards? Wowcards has a program where you can mail gift cards straight to your past customers. It is so easy and so cheap ($.50 cents to $1 each depending on quantity) that you can’t afford to not be doing this at least once a year. You could get creative and send these to local residential mailing lists, fleets or car lots but you will probably get the best return from your past customers. Design your card, upload your list and send. You can also offer Groupon deals in your town for various services to drive more general repair business.
Now let’s talk about mobile-oriented sites. Use an iPhone or Android and go to your shop website. Is it easy to call your shop or fill out a form using a mobile device? They should be able to go to your website and press one button to call you. If contacting your shop through a mobile device requires too much zooming and scrolling, it’s time to make a mobile version of your website so you are not burning leads. If you already have a website provider, they probably already know how to build one. If you want to do it yourself, Unbounce has a great tool to creating a mobile version of your site. Once your mobile version is done, you will need to install a mobile redirect script on your main website that detects mobile a device then sends them to that new mobile version. If you do not think this is worth doing–keep in mind that today around 40-50% of traffic on searches related to transmission repair is coming in on mobile devices. All of those people are seeing your site the way you are seeing it on your phone. If a mobile user does not have the ability to easily call your shop, or fill out a form, they will probably be hitting back and going to a competitor who does!
Next, using AdWords landing pages. If you use AdWords to generate leads, are you sending them direct to your shop’s website? Consider using a one-page landing page and tracking phone number specifically for your AdWords campaigns instead of sending them direct to your website. This is how the big companies do it but you can set this up yourself inexpensively using Unbounce. The upside to a landing page vs. a website is that a landing page designed specifically for AdWords tends to convert visitors to leads more often than just a shop website. In our business, the key is only giving visitors two options: Calling or filling out the form. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression, especially when a customer is shopping around, so having a high-converting landing page is key. Like I mentioned in the last article, if your site looks like Lings Cars (Google it), it might be time to convert to a landing page.
Another important marketing tool is YouTube and Vimeo. Do you have a video on YouTube yet? Having a video increases the possibility of getting on the first page of Google organic results, such as Transmission Repair [Your City Name]. If you do not want to go to the expense of having a commercial-grade video made, check your local barter network for video production companies or look around on Fiverr. If you embed your video on your website, consider switching from YouTube to Vimeo–Vimeo does not have those annoying ads/related videos that show at the end of your video which often irritate and confuse people. Watch your video all the way to the end to see what I mean.
Another marketing tool is text message. Do you get many customers calling about status updates? Autotext.me and DemandForce have programs that automatically update your customers each step of the way through text message. You can also use these numbers for future follow-ups which is great for marketing repeat business or specials.
Last but not least, if you are using both Google AdWords to advertise and Google Analytics to track your website visitors, make sure to link the accounts together in the Admin section of Analytics. The biggest upside to this is that you will be able to go into your Analytics reports and view the “AdWords / Search Queries” information and see exactly what search queries are bringing visitors to your site through AdWords. By sending yourself a weekly report, you can add negative keywords when necessary. By default, AdWords and Analytics do not give you this information unless you link the accounts together–you only know that the keyword “transmission” brought them to the site, but when you checked the Search Queries report you can find out that you had 7 visitors last week searching for the infamous “1971 ford pinto transmission shift kit”, and you paid $2.75/each for those clicks. (To all you Pinto fans, I’m not saying a 71 Pinto shift kit installation is a bad lead, but… I think you get the idea!) The bottom line is that Google AdWords does not want you to view this information because they are making an absolute fortune on unrelated clicks–and so are many big marketing agencies!