On Thursday, July 27, ALLDATA partnered with Google’s Automotive Marketing team to provide a free one-hour webinar on “Best Online Marketing Practices” for automotive shops, presented by Google Product Specialist Matt Krystofik.
The material, relevant for both collision and mechanical shops, was very informative, and the interactive webinar attracted more than 200 automotive industry professionals.
“Best Online Marketing Practices” discussed changing consumer and technology trends that shops need to know about, three ways to grow a business with Google tools, and resources to help shops keep up with changing digital behavior. Krystofik began by sharing his intent to help shops make their advertising “accountable, actionable and impactful using myriad tools.”
After explaining Google’s goal of connecting users with information they care about, Krystofik indicated that consumer behavior is changing constantly with technological advances. With smartphones readily providing the ability to research and consider their options, customers’ expectations are steadily increasing. Consumers have limited time, expect transparency that builds trust, and are guided by technology’s ability to easily connect them with a business.
Krystofik stressed, “Customers value interactions with little friction and where they can easily access the information they’re seeking at the moment they want it. Customers have more choices than ever, and if you don’t commit to speed, you’re losing customers.”
It is imperative for businesses to be present whenever, however and wherever the customer chooses to shop. Google projects that 80 percent of the $49 billion automotive parts sales industry in 2017 will be digitally influenced, compared to 78 percent in 2016.
Krystofik asked, “What are you doing today to future-proof your business? There’s never been a more important time to ensure you have a great digital storefront.”
Over the past five years, there has been a 57 percent decline in visits to brick and mortar stores, but each visit yields higher value because customers do their homework online and enter with a strong intent to make a purchase.
“Google My Business lets you take charge of what people see when they do a local search for your shop, plus it allows you to update your listing and engage with customers from a phone, tablet or desktop,” Krystofik stated. “Just as important, it’s free to use.”
Shop owners can update their Google My Business listing to adjust holiday hours, add a phone number or upload photos. These updates are made in real time, and the listing increases reach when customers search for that shop.
Krystofik advised, “Ask happy customers to post a review on your listing, because 70 percent of people trust online reviews from other customers.”
Google My Business also contains an Insights dashboard that reveals how customers interact with the shop’s listing, allowing the business to better target customers and attract new ones. Offering deals and providing updates on a listing is another key means of generating more sales and repeat customers.
Because everyone constantly uses their smartphones to research information, it’s important for businesses to build a great mobile experience. Shops can also generate and personalize a website from the listing.
According to Krystofik, “There are many powerful features available to drive business. Promote potential customers with a call to action, or employ the option for people to submit their contact information so you can call them at your convenience. Booking appointments online is not currently available, but will be coming soon.”
Krystofik then emphasized the importance of ensuring company websites load at an appropriate rate of speed.
Krystofik shared, “Fifty percent of people will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, but on Insights, you can test your speed, see the number of customers being lost due to the slow load, and compare your site to industry competitors.
“Google’s free tools help you understand what’s on your customers’ minds – think of Google as a data source for intent. Google Trends shows what people research, allowing you to see shifts in customer behavior and determine how to best meet their needs or desires. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in ‘near me’ searches.”
Discussing how to recognize customers with a high intent to purchase, Krystofik recommended using Google Adwords, which includes a keyword planner to expand a shop’s reach, explore how keywords will perform, or help users choose optimal words for their Google advertising campaigns. Additionally, businesses only pay for the service when it results in people reaching out to them. The conversion tracking tool offers additional benefits by providing data on the results of ad clicks.
Krystofik stated, “Google offers great free resources to make the digital ecosystem much less daunting,” and encouraged his audience to register their Google My Business listing, compare their site to others, and utilize Google’s free data trend tools.
“Don’t lose potential customers before they walk in your door!” he said.