Q&A: Marketing in Modern Times
Fix Auto USA is receiving recognition from the collision repair industry for its marketing efforts.
Recently, the company was named a “Landy Award” finalist in Search Engine Land’s annual awards search. The company was awarded for its digital marketing initiatives on behalf of its franchise locations as best-in-class.
“Being named a finalist is honestly enough,” says Dennis O’Mahoney, vice president of business development for Fix Auto. “It’s important to us in anything that we do, that we’re able to drive business to our franchise partners.”
Through its campaign, Fix Auto says it increased online appointments by 54 percent and achieved 47 percent new user growth in under one year.
Jonathan Hererra, Fix Auto’s marketing manager, says that being recognized for a “Landy Award” is validating for the company.
FenderBender recently spoke with O’Mahoney and Herrera to ask them more about the consolidator’s successful marketing initiatives, and what other MSOs can learn from them.
How would you describe the marketing landscape for MSOs today?
Herrera: The landscape is changing so much, so it’s important to be aware of those changes. For one thing, sites like Instagram were not as big five years ago as they are today. There are new players in the stage, so it’s important for a body shop to figure out where it best fits.
An MSO might assume it is best to market its shop on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Yet, they’re ignoring other platforms for that 800-pound gorilla in the room. They’re not on LinkedIn, whereas we are using that platform more. We’re working to understand how LinkedIn plays into the corporate customer side of the business.
Shops should start posting once a week, then twice a week, until the shop is finding valuable content to post on a routine basis on LinkedIn. Even if the content proves to not be valuable, it will provide analytics on what followers are consuming in terms of content. To find out what time to post, try posting at 8 a.m. versus 8 p.m. and see what engagement metrics look like. Then, adjust from there.
Remember that LinkedIn is a professional network so the content and conversation needs to be professional. Post involvement in networking groups, about new hires, awards the shop receives, involvement in charitable events like Recycled Rides, business anniversaries or documenting continuous improvement of the business. Before you post, ask yourself, “If I saw this post, would I engage?”
O’Mahoney: Marketing in specific to digital strategy is changing dramatically. Now, within that environment, you have aspects like retargeting. So, you have the cookie that follows you around as you shop online for a pair of shoes and continuously shows you as the consumer that pair of shoes. We do that as well.
We show our customers the Fix Auto brand as we use retargeting to market to them or geofencing so that as they drive by a billboard, an advertisement will populate on their mobile phone.
If you go back five years ago, web-based SEO was the name of the game, but in the last two years or so, mobile has been a major drive or marketing activity.
What marketing techniques do you think have led you to where you are now?
O’Mahoney: We’ve taken all the traditional marketing tactics you’d expect to find in the web world and changed it around to focus on how it affects our stores.
When we first started marketing in the digital era, we would keep track of metrics like how many users visited our website and that sort of thing. Now, after focusing with partners, we track metrics like how many people are filing outside assignment forms, and how many customers are making calls to the shop.
We’re changing that mindset and driving all our efforts to get to those metrics of how the customer is interacting with the body shops instead of finding the generic, website statistics that don’t tell you how your business is performing.
Hererra: When it comes to increasing new user growth, content and marketing moves the needle. Having a content strategy to address the variety of questions and scenarios people find themselves in is very helpful. A blog is a great way to start.
By doing this, we’re offering value and position ourselves as experts and thought leaders. We build trust and credibility.
The other avenue to attract new customers is to leverage things like display advertising, AdWords, Facebook ads and Instagram ads.
What tips can you share for shops wanting to increase online appointments?
Hererra: Let’s use Nordstrom as an example. You can navigate their stores very easily, they have associates ready and willing to help, and they’re not going to rush you but make it easy to complete the final sale.
Make your customer journey match a similar path, which makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for, give them avenues to seek help like phone numbers, chat widgets, FAQs, content forms and collect enough information to keep the process moving.