- With a well-planned marketing plan, you can avoid high costs and still gain new customers
- Your blog, emails, online reviews, and social media posts are low-cost marketing options that can help grow your automotive business
- The most impactful marketing tactics create word-of-mouth buzz about your business and encourage customer referrals
When you have an auto repair shop, you can’t just wait around for customers to walk in the door if you want to have a thriving business. But the cost of marketing your auto shop can quickly go through the roof if you’re not strategic about where you invest your dollars.
While many auto repair businesses turn to television commercials, public signage, or online marketing tools like pay-per-click (PPC) ads to attract new customers, these marketing ideas are often too expensive for local business owners.
Fortunately, there are some auto repair marketing ideas that will keep your costs down while growing your customer base. In this guide, you’ll discover the best low-cost auto repair marketing strategies to promote your business without draining your budget.
1. Create a blog that drives results
A strategically created blog can establish your business as an expert in auto repair. It also has the potential to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and attract potential customers to your website. Here’s how to make it happen:
Establish a plan
Your blog content should focus on useful and relevant information that your target audience is seeking. But how do you know what potential customers are interested in? It starts by conducting keyword research and establishing an organized content plan.
Consider what auto service customers research on search engines. It could be topics like “cheap oil change in Chicago” or “how often should I buy new tires?” Use one of these free keyword research tools to figure out precisely what people in your area are searching for and then create content that speaks to those topics.
Set a schedule
Create a content schedule once you’ve chosen keywords that have the most potential to bring traffic to your website. Then, you must consistently write content to see results from your blog.
Writing a post once a week may seem like a lot of work, but it has the potential to significantly affect your search engine rankings. If you don’t have enough time to write, there are marketing agencies you can hire to create blog posts. A freelance content agency could cost anywhere from $34 to $135 per blog post (although costs can be higher depending on who you contract).
Promote your content
Writing your blog posts is just the start. After that, you must promote your content to increase its visibility in the areas you serve. That’s where your social media channels and email marketing come into play.
Post your auto repair articles on your social channels to engage your followers. You can also include links to your articles when you email your customers. Sharing useful and relevant content shows that you care about helping your customers and that you’re not always trying to sell them something.
2. Plan your email marketing program
Email marketing is an affordable way to maintain relationships with your previous happy customers and keep them up to date with current promotions. It’s also an effective way to provide valuable and practical automotive service content that will make your customers’ lives easier. Here’s how to get started:
Build your email list
You’ll need to build an email list before you start an email marketing program. There are a few different strategies you can use to collect emails.
One way is by collecting contact information every time a customer comes in for a service. You should always ask customers for their permission before signing them up for your email newsletter. You can incentivize them to sign up by offering a discount on their next service or an entry into a promotional contest.
Your website is another lead collection outlet. Your website should have a clear call to action that encourages visitors to sign up for your email newsletter. Similar to in-store email collection, you can offer discounts or promotions for signing up for email communications.
Segment your list
As you collect customer information, segment your email list by different categories. For example, you can segment your list by vehicle model, type of service, or customer demographics. Personalized and targeted emails are much more effective than generic, canned emails that everyone receives. Studies have shown that emails with personalized subject lines are opened 26% more often.
For example, you can send a follow-up email after a customer comes in for a service to thank them for their business and build a stronger connection.
Send regular emails
Sending periodic emails keeps you top of mind with your customers. However, do not bombard people with emails.
Discounts and promotions—such as a free tire rotation with every oil change or 25% off a tune-up or auto parts—are always appreciated by customers. Just make sure your emails maintain a balance between promotional content and useful information.
For example, avoid sending emails that only focus on selling or promoting your products. This can come off as pushy and annoying. Instead, include helpful information like how to prepare your vehicle for winter, when you should recharge your A/C system, or how to change a flat tire. This type of useful information can create more loyal customers who will start to see you as a true expert in the field.
It’s worth noting that your website blog content can also support these types of emails.
3. Engage with your online reviews
Online reviews and testimonials significantly influence customers’ purchase decisions. Reports show that 93% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product or paying for a service. Having positive online reviews can set your auto shop apart from your local competitors.
Online user reviews offer a huge opportunity for your business. Not only can you increase your online reach with potential customers, but you can also open a line of communication with customers who have already visited your business. You can gain insights about what customers experienced at your business, identify areas for improvement, and reply to customer reviews—both positive and negative.
One of the most popular review sites for small businesses is Yelp. You can claim your Yelp Business Page for free and add business listing details such as your shop hours, phone number, photos, and more. It’s an excellent way to instantly connect with current and potential customers.
4. Start posting on social media
Your social media channels are a gateway to your local community and a way for you to maintain a connection with previous customers. Encourage engagement with your followers and feature helpful content beyond promotional posts.
There are opportunities to engage with previous or potential customers like rewarding them for checking into your store, liking your Facebook page, or sharing your content.
Posting unique and useful content will also differentiate your auto shop from your competitors. For example, you might increase engagement by giving car maintenance advice, posting daily traffic updates, or safe traveling tips.
Another creative social media marketing tip is to post “before” and “after” pictures of vehicles you service. This can help build trust with potential customers who may take their vehicle into your shop when the time comes.
5. Implement in-store auto repair marketing ideas
Membership and referral programs are an effective way to build customer loyalty and repeat business.
A membership program can ensure customers will continue to come back to your shop for all of their automotive needs. Once a customer is a member, you can offer repair service packages—like multiple oil changes throughout the year. You can even create a payment plan so they can spread out their payments over time for more extensive (and expensive) repairs.
A referral program puts marketing into the hands of your current customers. Offer incentives like discounted oil changes for every word-of-mouth referral they send your way. You should also give the person they refer an incentive like 20% off their first service with your business.
Plan ahead for the best results
When it comes to auto repair marketing, it all starts with a plan. Whether it’s in-person or digital marketing, always be strategic and plan out your marketing efforts beforehand. Otherwise, you risk wasting your time and limited marketing budget if you dive into marketing ideas without clearly defined goals for each campaign.
Once you implement some of these ideas—like growing your blog, building an email marketing program, and claiming your Yelp Business Page—you’ll start to see a genuine return on investment.