“The path to more service center appointments requires understanding customers. The quick lube industry is competitive, so owners need to evaluate their marketing efforts and effectively use their existing customer data,” said Dustin Harris, major accounts manager at PureCars.
Harris recently presented a webinar to Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) members, during which he described what owners and managers need to know about the digital landscape and how it can drive service center appointments.
In short, he talked about how appointments are won during ‘micro-moments,’ a term coined by Google to describe the short bursts of activity on mobile devices that characterize consumer behavior.
“Mobile has changed how consumers interact with brands and companies,” Harris said.
Customers use their mobile devices more than ever to research and evaluate potential purchases, including where to have their oil changed.
Because phones have fractured the customer journey, the information you publish must be interesting, relevant and easy to access by people who use their phones to find what they’re looking for.
“Make it so they can get what they need as quickly as possible,” he said.
Customers are so bombarded with messages that getting and holding their attention is not easy. It takes a concerted effort to be available at the right time and to give the right information and incentives in a seamless manner.
Take Advantage of These Tactics
Harris highlighted some tactics to improve overall retention, including ad retargeting. Retargeting helps build on the branding you’ve done with display ads. If someone searches and lands on your site, an ad will follow them as they browse to other sites.
“This is a way to reach people who have already been to your site,” Harris said.
The idea is they expressed some interest in your service, but weren’t ready to purchase at that moment. By staying top-of-mind, the ads reinforce your brand, so prospects will remember you when they are ready to act. It puts your ad in front of people when they’re not searching, because most time spent online is not spent searching. It’s spent consuming.
Harris also asked listeners to think about the interaction customers have when they visit their site. He mentioned customers are looking for images (that can reassure customers the facility exists and is credible) or they’re looking for the nearest location or best price.
Another key to winning customers in a mobile phone environment is to make the experience seamless. If a customer searches for you from a mobile phone, they won’t want to fill out on online form. You should consider a click-to-call phone extension. This way, it’s easy for the customer to reach out, and you can track who calls as a result of seeing your ad.
Driving Sales and Appointments
“In the end, sales and appointments are what matter most,” Harris said. “Because shoppers aren’t as loyal as they used to be, they consider what’s convenient or a good deal.”
Because paid ads on Google can be expensive, a strategic way to address this challenge is to choose the right keywords. In other words, if you show up in search engines for “cheapest oil change,” you face a lot of competition and probably won’t make any money on the sale. So Harris suggests using the negative keyword tool to deselect search terms. So, for example, if you don’t compete on price, you can opt not to show up for searches that include the word “cheap.”
“When someone clicks on an ad, it should take them to a relevant landing page,” Harris mentioned. “If someone searches for tires, for example, the link should send them to a page with rebates for tires, not to the home page where there’s no follow-up to what they’re looking for.”
Your landing pages should anticipate needs. For example, use incentives around wiper blades in the spring, air conditioning services in the summer and heater and defroster services in the winter.
You can also think of incentives as a long-term means of building loyalty by offering something like “buy five oil changes, get the sixth free.”
“When you’re reaching people, you want to build retention and loyalty through incentives — give them a real offer,” Harris said.
The Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) is a non-profit trade organization representing the convenient automotive service industry. For questions, contact AOCA headquarters at [email protected].