How to Leverage Digital Marketing

May 13, 2024
 It can be the most effective tool to stay on top of your customer’s mind. 

You’ve probably heard the phrase “targeted digital marketing” before — but what does it mean? And how can it help keep your shop at the forefront of potential customers’ minds? 

Targeted digital marketing is essentially a way to make sure that the people most likely to visit your shop see your ads online. People are “targeted” using data they’re putting out into the world — perhaps the wording they choose to perform a search, or the location they perform that search from. Google Adwords, for example, can be targeted to appear to people carrying out Google searches in certain geographic locations — near your shop, or even people in your competitor’s lobby — when they’re searching for certain keywords or phrases, things like “collision shop near me” or “collision shop in [your ZIP code or city].” 

Instead of relying on someone remembering your shop from something they may have seen a long time ago — like an ad on TV or the radio — you’re actively meeting people in their moment of need, when they’re searching for your service. 

For this reason, Megan Fulkerson, partner and digital strategist at 3P Marketing, believes targeted digital marketing is the most effective tool a collision shop owner can utilize to stay top-of-mind and bring new customers through the door. 

Here’s why. 

As told to Lindsey Gainer 

Precision Matters

The newest way we are utilizing data to keep a shop top-of-mind is by targeting specific brand owners. For instance, if a shop is certified to repair BMW, Honda and Nissan, we build out campaigns to target owners of those specific brands in a radius around the body shop. By only targeting brand owners, we can tailor the ads to reflect the type of vehicle they drive and inform them that your body shop is certified to repair their vehicle. We can then track if that person ever steps foot in a client’s shop by utilizing cell phone location data (this data is anonymous, so we can’t ever provide a name, only a ZIP code that someone came from). 

We utilize software to build out the best possible campaign to ensure we are showing up online regardless of where a potential customer may be – Googling, browsing online, using social media, streaming television, or visiting your website. Your website is the employee that is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep your shop at the forefront of people’s minds. 

Capitalize on Your Value-Adds

The most important things to highlight in your ads (or on your social media accounts) are your value propositions — what do you offer that sets you apart from the competition? Do you offer pick up or delivery, online estimates, a free detail with repair? Highlighting what will make the customer’s inconvenient situation a little easier goes a long way. Equally important is highlighting any brand-specific training your shop has. If a BMW owner learns that you are BMW-certified and why that is so important, it can help ensure you get the repair. 

Staying active on social media channels — like Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube — is another important way to keep your shop top-of-mind with potential customers. It lets you show the world who you are, and why you can be trusted. It’s a great tool to highlight employees, give a “behind-the-scenes” look into what’s going on in the shop, and showcase cool, fun or unique repairs. 

Social media isn’t the best way to get new customers in the door — that’s the job of targeted digital ads…but it certainly can help you build brand awareness and develop a following of potential customers. Social media is also free — so for shops who may not have the budget right now for ads, it’s a great way to put your value-adds out into the world so people can get a feel for your offerings. 

Having your customer service reps push customers to fill out a review is also a great thing to do, because many people will take reviews into account if they are unsure of which shop to go to.  

There’s Still An (Important) Place for Community Involvement

Community involvement is not only a great way to support your neighbors and build awareness for your business; it’s also a great team-bonding activity. During my time at Lefler Collision, we put a large emphasis on community involvement. We did everything from car care clinics for women, to “little lady” days for Girl Scouts, grilling hot dogs at the public pools on Saturdays, passing out water at races, and more! I always had our crew wearing a logoed t-shirt, and it was always fun to give back to the community. Working out in the community provides great content for social media as well and can also be an important factor when someone is looking at your organization as a potential employer.

Should You Manage Advertising In-House or Outsource?

While social media is best managed by someone within the shop, a professional within the marketing agency world is typically needed to place digital ads or streaming commercial spots. 

Many tools are not available to the public and have large minimums, which is why it is necessary to use an agency. The biggest positive to using a marketing expert is that you get access to an entire team managing and optimizing the campaign for you, to ensure it’s targeted exactly as it needs to be. 

Rome was not built in a day, however, and it’s important to keep that in mind when starting any type of advertising campaign. Utilize data to show what type of traction you are getting. If you do not have Google Analytics set up already, that is a great free tool to help see where traffic is coming from. 

The Bottom Line

People are spending more time than ever online — on their phones, laptops, tablets, and other smart devices — and they’re utilizing search engines to find services in their moment of need. Ensuring they see an ad for your shop at that precise moment is the most effective way to bring new customers into your shop, and ensure you remain top-of-mind with the people who need your services most. Utilizing social media channels and getting involved in your community will further compound your brand recognition and build a strong foundation upon which your digital marketing can stand. 

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