Take a look at your business. What is it that determines whether you stay afloat or go under? Is it the same thing that motivates you to do better every day? To phrase it simply, what is it that drives your entire operation? The answer is simple and quite obvious: customers.
Every auto repair and auto body shop owner out there will tell you the same thing: getting customers is not easy. Obviously, that isn’t something you want to hear when starting your own auto repair business.
Unfortunately for many of these auto repair and body shop owners, the importance of digital marketing strategies, especially in a world where the internet exists, is either lost on them or entirely unacknowledged. Fortunately for you, however, you are about to learn the three essential auto repair shop marketing strategies and how they can help you gain more customers no matter how big or small your business is.
1. Reputation Management
What is it?
When a customer searches for your business online, the results will include every bit of information that Google considers relevant to the search(SEO). This includes websites with positive and negative reviews about your company, forum posts, articles, and blog posts.
Reputation management, or online reputation management(ORM), is what businesses do to control what their customers see first when they search for their company online. The most efficient way to achieve this is by boosting the positive search results so that they are ranked higher than the negative results, giving the company lots of good publicity.
In as much as reputation management revolves around publicizing good news about your company, it is also about learning how to respond to criticism swiftly and appropriately.
How it will help your business
So how will reputation management help you gain more customers?
a) By giving your business an online presence – some of the key components to online management such as keeping your websites updated (or creating one for those who haven’t), posting articles and media, and publishing to your social media pages can make your business an authoritative presence online. This means new customers will find it easier to trust you.
b) By making your business easier to find – very few people go past the first page of the search results. If your company has established a good online presence, Google will rank it higher on the first page and make it a lot easier to find.
Reputation management allows you to present the most relevant or accurate information about your business first, giving you the chance to put your best foot forward and become more visible on the internet. Neat, isn’t it?
2. SMS Marketing
What is it?
Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is a permission-based marketing technique that businesses use to distribute promotional messages to their customers. This strategy requires your customers to opt into an automated texting service, usually by sending a text to a predetermined shortcode. Customers who opt in receive a confirmation message alongside instructions on how to opt out of the service.
The scale of your operations will determine whether you will need SMS marketing software for this strategy. However, it is a lot less labor-intensive to automate the process.
How it will help your business
SMS marketing plays a massive role in many business’ marketing campaigns for one particular reason: it is a fantastic close range marketing tactic. When it comes to increasing customer loyalty and growing your database, it is a very potent marketing technique.
Because many of these consumers feel that text messages:
· Are more likely to grab their attention sooner (98% of SMS messages are opened and read within the first 3 minutes);
· Are easier to read and respond to;
· Make it easier to communicate with businesses like yours, and most importantly;
· Do not make them feel like their identity and personal data is at risk of being exposed.
A general rule of thumb to be observed when implementing this tactic is that the platform should primarily be used to serve your customers and not to promote your business.
What does this mean?
Simply put, you should use the SMS communication channel to relay information such as appointments, service reminders, and important events. Promoting your business using SMS marketing, while still allowed, should be done with tact. The last thing you want is your customers to feel pestered or annoyed by incessant text messages about discounted auto servicing rates. A general rule of thumb is to keep the total number of messages to less than 5 per month.
Keep it short and straightforward, and most importantly, keep it relevant.
3. Promotional Marketing
What is it?
This kind of marketing involves the use of promotional tools such as contests, raffles, and sweepstakes to create awareness about a brand/company and to attract customers. This tactic is usually deployed with one primary goal in mind: to create a buzz.
How it will help your business
Promotional marketing can help your business in the following ways:
a) Creating awareness about your company – everybody loves to win, which is why promotions get a lot of attention from consumers. You don’t have to bend over backward to get your customers interested either; a prize as simple as free service or repairs for a specified period is enough to get everyone in a competitive mood. The more competition there is, the bigger the buzz generated.
b) Providing a platform to conduct market research – Contests and promotions are also crucial for market research. You can use them as a platform to carry out short but useful surveys on your existing customer base. For example, a series of brief questions on the participants’ registration forms can give you crucial insight into your clients’ driving habits, their preferred type of engine oil, and various other pertinent things that you can use to better your services or to promote your products.
If organizing promotional events sounds too hectic for you, worry not. Online contest management software such as the one offered here (https://www.jvimobile.com) not only lessens the load for you, it also encourages your customers to share the contest on social media by rewarding them with more entries for every person that enters the contest through their recommendation.
Remember, you don’t have to go over your budget when organizing contests, sweepstakes, and other promotional tools. A single prize is usually enough to attract several participants. However, if you can afford it, there is no harm in offering multiple prizes, especially when you’re promoting a new product.
Thus far, here is what we have learned:
· Reputation management is all about making your business more authoritative and easier to find online;
· If you can help it, don’t bother with email marketing or push-notifications; SMS marketing is the way to go, and last but not least;
· Promotional marketing is a double-edged sword that can be very useful when used correctly.
Now that you’re armed with three vital digital marketing strategies, you’re probably wondering how to implement all of them at once. To be honest, it can be quite a task to juggle the three strategies on your own, especially if you run a small business.
Can it be done?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is a resounding YES! Thanks to the innovative and easy to use software that you can find here, you can take care of your company’s reputation management, SMS marketing, and promotional marketing needs in an easy and highly efficient manner.
If you want to boost a post on your Facebook Business Page, it’s pretty simple. We have been doing these types of posts for years and it is one of the fastest ways to generate interest, find new followers and generate leads for your small business.
Here is a short video from Facebook describing the simple process in detail:
Once you boost a post, you can view it on Facebook and click on the link that shows all the people who reacted to the post. This will be those people who clicked Like, Love, Wow, etc.
When you view these people, if they don’t already like your Facebook page, there will be an Invite button on the right-hand side next to each person. You can manually go through these people and invite them to like your page, one-by-one. Watch your audience grow!
If you would like to learn more about posting to Facebook for your business, what to post about or what to boost, please contact us today. We will provide you with a no obligation, free information session to help you along the way!
If you’re like a lot of business owners, you’ve done your research about the importance of reviews. You know that a huge majority of internet users rely on reviews of businesses to make purchasing decisions, and you’ve probably put a lot of effort into managing your review pages, responding to negative reviews, and demonstrating how helpful you are to potential customers. All of that is great, and you should keep doing it.
What’s the problem, then? If you’re taking those reviews and sticking them on a Testimonials page on your website, you’re undoing all your hard work. Here’s why.
Testimonial Page and Visitor Trust
But wait, you might be thinking. Didn’t I just say that the majority of customers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions?
Note the language. They rely on reviews, not testimonials. It doesn’t matter if your testimonials started out as reviews. The moment you pick one out and stick it on your website, it’s a testimonial – something you solicited from a customer you knew was happy and satisfied.
Even if you include a few less than stellar reviews in the mix, it’s unlikely that customers will even bother to visit the page. They are going to assume that you picked out the best of the best and that they won’t learn anything real about your company, products, or service by visiting the page.
In case you’re still not convinced, let’s envision a scenario where a company culls their best online reviews to put on their website. A customer decides to read them, and then – still unconvinced – decides to bounce over to Yelp to see what the people there have to say.
How do you think it will affect your credibility if there’s a significant disconnect between what’s on your site and your average Yelp rating? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not going to do you any favors. Customers want to see honest reviews, including the negative ones – and they want to see how you respond to the bad reviews.
It’s also important to note that the changes that Google made to local business information on Google+ mean that the only thing customers will see there are your location information and your reviews. You might as well make the most of them.
How to Link to Reviews
If you’re wondering how you can harness the power of reviews while avoiding the pitfalls I have described above, don’t worry. I’m about to tell you. The key here is to link to (not copy) reviews from your website, and to do so in a way that doesn’t step on anybody’s toes. Here’s what you need to do.
Ditch the “Testimonials” page and make it a “Reviews” page instead.
At the top of the page, put a few sentences about how you think it’s important for potential customers to hear what existing customers think of you. With that in mind, you’re providing them with some quick and easy links so they can see for themselves.
For every link you include, make sure to use the target=”_blank” command so that the review site opens in a separate tab. You don’t want to encourage people to navigate away from your page, so don’t skip this step.
Put a link to Google reviews at the top of your page. Google reviews are always going to be at the top of any list of search results, so you might as well list them first on your page.
Do not link directly to your Yelp page. That might not seem to make sense, but Yelp frowns on direct links, so you want to make it look like visitors from your site are arriving at Yelp via organic search. The way to do that is to do a Google search for [your business] Yelp, and then copy the link to the SERP (search engine results page) URL. When visitors click it, they will be taken to the Google SERP page with Yelp at the top of the listings where they can easily click it.
Do the same thing for any other relevant review sites, including Angie’s List and industry-specific sites.
The point of doing things like this is that you get all the benefit of directing customers to reviews without the suspicious element of listing them on your own website. Whether you agree with the perception that Testimonial pages are not to be trusted or not, the fact is that customers want to feel they have access to unbiased and honest reviews that are a true reflection of what they can expect if they do business with you.
Tips for Handling Reviews
If you’re worried about linking to unfiltered review pages, there is actually a very easy two-part solution that can alleviate that fear altogether:
Do a great job of monitoring your review pages and replying in a professional and helpful manner to negative reviews. I know, it seems obvious – but sometimes the obvious solution really is the best one. If you want to be sure that customers are getting a clear picture of your great products and services, show them how important customers are by giving great customer service. It’s not rocket science – nor should it be.
Some customers might leave a review anyway, but there’s no harm in encouraging them to do so. By providing a card, you’re making it easy.
If you find yourself resisting the idea of doing away with Testimonials, think of it this way. You still have them, you’re only changing the name. If you were listing only rave reviews on your site, the chances are good that your customers would go seek out the rest of your reviews in spite of that. This way, you’re being upfront with them about your reviews, which shows them you have nothing to hide.
At JVI Mobile, we are passionate about creating and growing awesome social relationships. Tell us how we can help! We’ve got a crack team literally at your fingertips!
If you’re not using SMS marketing yet, now is the time to take a new look at this dynamic method of growing and retaining new customers. With almost 90% of Americans owning a cellphone SMS marketing (text messaging) is an inexpensive and efficient way to directly reach your current and prospective customers.
With the rise of smartphones and apps over the past few years, many have focused on marketing through QR codes and social media.
Why SMS Marketing?
SMS marketing is more flexible than you might think. Not only can you target new customers with unique and exciting offers, but you can also increase engagement and loyalty with existing customers through opt-in lead generation, appointment confirmations, polls, and surveys, loyalty programs, coupons and more. Better yet, the fast pace of SMS marketing means that most of your messages are opened within the first ninety seconds of receipt.
SMS messaging also gives your new fans the ability to reach out to you directly in real time- faster even than email. Showing your customers how much you care by getting back to them immediately will wow them with your customer service and push you past your competition!
Need More Reasons to use SMS Marketing?
SMS is available on all mobile phones. From the oldest flip phone to the latest iPhone or android offering, every mobile phone can send and receive SMS messages.
Over 90% of Americans have a cellphone and are almost never without them! Everyone instinctively reaches for their phone when it beeps so almost every SMS message is read almost instantly.
SMS is the most convenient and cost-effective way of reaching your audience, with no need for graphics, colors, or even an internet connection. Costs are dramatically less than other traditional or online direct response methods.
Unlike email marketing, there is no chance of your message being blocked by an ISP or ending up in the recipient’s junk or spam folder.
In addition to ‘SMS blasts’ you can also provide targeted messages to unique customers like birthday messages, thank you messages and loyalty rewards.
Let us help you find out how you are doing now and take your results to new highs! At JVI Mobile, we are passionate about creating and growing awesome social relationships. We are happy to help guide you on your way!
JVI Mobile Marketing has been in the reputation management business for nearly four months. We are helping several businesses generate hundreds of reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and more. This is not only good for the obvious reasons, like word of mouth and building trust, it also has another huge meaning, often overlooked. Search Engine Rankings.
We don’t really talk much about offering SEO services, but we do often let people know that by using our services, they will naturally rank higher. We are proud partners with Reputation Loop and sell their services, customize it for your business, and put it to work.
Their co-Founder wrote a great article today, and we wanted to share it. The original post can be found at:
Word of mouth is very important to a small business, especially a business that relies on the local market for sales. The most powerful signal for the local customer of your business’s ability to fulfill their needs and solve the problems of its customers are online customer reviews. Highly influential, and trusted more than personal referrals from friends and family, online reviews are consulted by nearly 90% of consumers either regularly or occasionally and 72% of those consumers stated that positive reviews make them trust a business more according to BrightLocal’s 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey.
What we are now seeing is that online customer reviews are also being seen by search engines as a powerful signal of whether or not your webpages are a good match for local search results. It is the job of your search engine to give you the best information, which is how they get you to continue to use their search engine and how they make money selling ad space. It makes sense that highly reviewed and high rated businesses would appear high in local search results as the best choices to fulfill your local buying needs. Whether it is a restaurant, mechanic, or dentist, search engines like Google have recognized that the majority of buyers are looking at reviews. And if it is important to the consumer than it is important to the search engine to give their users what they want.
How Search Engines Look at Your Customer Reviews
Local search marketing authority, MOZ, dug deep into the search engine data and found that review signals rank as high as fifth on local search engine ranking factors. So out of overall factors for local search rankings, your business’s online customer reviews were highly regarded, ranking just after My Business, NAP/Citation, On-Page Signals, and Link Signals in importance – all online factors that are largely in your control.
Review signals are the data, content and other aspects of the online customer reviews that search engines are dissecting and analyzing to determine how an overall value to your reviews. You can’t rate your own business and write customers’ reviews but with the importance of online customer reviews growing you should be putting emphasis on doing what you can to influence how often you get reviewed and how highly you are rated.
In the past two years Google has put a much larger ranking power on customer reviews, putting them front and center in the carousel and showing snippets of reviews on search engine results pages. Getting those golden star reviews and positive online reputation to pop out in search engine results helps click-through rates and Google is all in favor of more clicks and more user engagement.
When you know what is influencing your business’s review signal you’ll know what you need to do to put your online customer reviews to work for you as part of your search engine marketing and SEO strategies.
What is influencing your review signal?
Review Quantity and Velocity
The more positive customer reviews your business has online, the more influence you have over consumer buying decisions and search engine rankings. How quickly you’re able to get those reviews (velocity) also shows how highly trust-worthy your business is and is a good indication of how naturally those reviews were collected. Both consumers and customers see your ability to impress the customer enough to post a positive reviews as a good indication of the quality of your business, and its service or product.
Third Party Traditional Reviews – Authority, Diversity & Quantity
Google reviews are great, but they are not the be-all and end-all of the review signal. It is also important to have reviews on other trusted third-party sites. Authority sites hold more influence and your business’s ability to gather high marks on a variety of authority sites really helps. Authority matters more than diversity, which means that Yelp reviews are going to be weighed heavily while reviews from BestSacramentoDentist.com will likely not matter at all in local SEO review signal, but will help with keyword search for “best Sacramento dentist”.
Getting your customer reviews into the microdata and showing up as rich snippets on search engine results pages really makes your business pop out on the page. And when there is so much competition for clicks on local search results a golden five-star ratings immediately draws the eye, gets attention and starts the process of building trust with the consumer. Businesses who use Reputation Loop to automate the customer review process and build their five-star reputation utilize a widget that creates these gold eye-popping gold star ratings in search engine results.
Content and Keywords
You don’t write your customer reviews (and if you do stop before you get in trouble) so you have very little control over the content and have to cross your fingers that keywords that matter to you and search engines can find their way in there. But obviously a two-word five-star “Love them!” review isn’t going to be as effective as a five-star “Love everything about my dentist. He’s the best in Sacramento. Wouldn’t get my kids’ braces done anywhere else.” because dentist, Sacramento, and braces are words that search engine users are searching for.
Using Customer Reviews in your SEO
There are a few other factors that make up your review signal but we are going to focus on the ones you can do something about. So here is what you can do to get your online customers review working over-time for you by making them part of your SEO strategy:
1. Have a Customer Review Plan and Process
As important as online customer reviews and high local search rankings are to your business growth and success you can’t leave this to chance. Your process should include how you will solicit reviews, how you will collect reviews, how you will handle negative reviews, as well as how and where you will post reviews.
This isn’t an overly complicated process but taking into consideration that you will want to get as many positive reviews as possible it can be time consuming. A smart option is to enlist the low-cost but highly effective online reputation services of a company like Reputation Loop whose software automates the entire process of generating customer feedback and turning positive feedback into online ratings and reviews. Customers giving positive feedback are asked to click through to leave that review on your selected review sites such as Google and Yelp. But if the feedback is negative the information is directed back to the business and away from review sites so business owners have a chance to address negative experiences before they end up online. A ton of other features all come together to make Reputation Loop an easy choice for nearly hands-free review management to build customer review quantity and velocity while building a five-star online reputation.
2. Diversify Your Review Sites
Find out where your customers are and be there. That applies to so many aspects of marketing and selling your business and online is no exception. Google is important and Yelp is important but your industry has its authority review sites. Find out what they are, establish your business profile and page, and make sure that some of your reviews are being funneled there.
3. Get Your Gold Stars on Search Engine Result Pages
Stand out and be seen by getting the average of your star reviews front and center with your business name on search engine results pages. Reputation Loop users can do this easily, but if you’re more of a DIY business owner and webmaster you can visit the Google Developers Structured Data page on Enabling Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings to get examples, definitions, tips and code to get your gold stars seen.
Customer reviews have a direct impact on local search results, and knowing what you can do to get more and better customer reviews on the right place online means you have an advantage over your competitors. When you can gather and post more five-star reviews and have those ratings pop out on search engine results pages you become the clear winner in the battle for the consumers’ dollars.
I have been a casual fan of NASCAR and auto racing since attending the 2006 All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The smell of racing fuel, the roar of the engines and the excitement of the fans, make it an event you will never forget.
Recently, my wife and I moved to her hometown of South Boston, VA. South Boston, to a race fan is a well known town. To folks outside of the area, people think I’m talking about a rough area in Massachusetts. South Boston, Virginia is the home of the South Boston Speedway, a 4/10ths of a mile paved oval track that features some up and coming drivers as well as some local regulars. Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, as well as current drivers Jeff Burton(Ward’s brother), Jeb Burton(Ward’s son), and Denny Hamlin, all got their start tearing up this little hometown track.
You are probably wondering what the heck does this have to do with Mobile Marketing? Ok. Now that the little background story is out of the way, allow me to entertain you with 5 ways these seemingly different activities are very related.
1.Mobile Apps – On NASCAR’s big tracks, under the bright lights, billions of dollars change hands. For years, businesses have had to have a ton of money to have a mobile app developed, hosted, and maintained.
This has changed. Just like little local racetracks do great things for a small town, now it is very affordable to have an iPhone and Android app for your small business.
2. Text to Win! – At large Sprint Cup races, there is usually a screen at the track where people can enter a keyword like “RACEDAY” and send it to a 5 digit number. They are then entered into a contest, sweepstakes or a newsletter of some sort. This has mass appeal generally intended for a national audience and costs the big sponsors tens of thousands of dollars to capture this information.
More and more, local companies have the ability to send out their daily or weekly specials to their customers using this method. Schools and activity centers use it for weather related closings and delay broadcasts. It is a very effective way to reach nearly everyone on your list in under a minute! If you are near the town of South Boston, text WOSSTG and send it to 41242. World of Sports and Spare Times Grill use this service here in town as it is a very quick and simple way to reach their customers who have opted in. How do they get folks to opt in? Owner Jay Burnett is offering a year of Free bowling to one lucky winner, and in a few months he will offer another great prize for signups and existing users.
3. Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest, WhatsApp.. Why does every driver have social media profiles? It translates into more money! The more popular you can make your social brand not only allows for great interactions with fans, but it creates more shares, which in turn, generates massive revenue!
Five years ago, most businesses were happy to have a web site up for their online presence. Now, in 2015, if you aren’t on at least two of the big networks, you are losing money to the competition down the street. More and more companies are offering to manage your online brand, and again, what was a luxury investment for the big international brands, is easily afforded to local bars, restaurants, family fun centers and more!
4. CAUTION! – When an accident happens on the track, the yellow caution flag and lights come out. It tells everyone to slow down, make a pit stop, and regroup and plan for the rest of the race. Maybe it’s new tires, adjustments, fuel or all of that, it is a good time to re-evaluate where you are at and how to improve. The driver cannot do it by his or herself. They need a Crew Chief, and a pit crew.
Is it time you slow down in the race of life and re-evaluate where you are at in your business? Do you have time to run your business and still update your web site, get a mobile app, send out text messages, and build relationships on two, three, or maybe more constantly evolving social networking sites? Maybe sitting down with alocal online marketing consultant would be beneficial. Most of the time, the planning is free and virtually painless.
5. Checkered Flag – Ahh, the finish line. Racers get so excited when they win a race, they do burnouts, back flips, and climb the fences! It is an exhilarating feeling to accomplish something you work so hard for. Until the next day, when you need to start preparing for the next race.
Celebrate your victories, your successes, your accomplishments. Your business and your employees need the occasional “atta boy”! Maybe this week, you find an hour to set up a social media page or profile for your company. Maybe it’s an hour updating your web site. Maybe you can schedule a sit down with an expert to make that proverbial “pit stop”. These are all bringing you one step close to winning your “local race”
Jay Vics is the founder and Owner of Jay Vics Inc., a local mobile marketing consulting and development firm in Virginia and North Carolina. Their flagship services, JVI Mobile and JVI Social have been utilized by dozens of “Mom & Pop” businesses for the last three years. It is a great way to market your local, hometown business. For more information visit JVI Mobile and JVI Social,