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Strategies for Engaging with Your Customers Online

If you hope to have a relationship with a prospect that doesn’t come to you via a DRP referral, you need to somehow capture their attention. The answer is marketing and branding online.

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

As a business owner, I’m looking for a long-term relationship. I want to reach people, learn about their needs and then address those needs with ideas and solutions. I want to earn their respect and loyalty. But before that happens, we have to get engaged. Getting engaged before the relationship even starts seems backwards, but that’s how it works…at least online anyway.

If you hope to have a relationship with a prospect that doesn’t come to you via a DRP referral (in other words, someone you develop organically), you need to somehow capture their attention. Traditional adver-tising is still out there and may pay off for some, to a point. But today’s marketing and branding is done online.

First Impressions

When someone searches for what they need, or for you by name, and you’re lucky enough to be found, you have about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to make a positive first impression. That is your first opportunity to get engaged. In a split second, the visitor decides whether or not they’ll stay on your site or hit the back button. Your website needs to be visually appealing and pop off the screen. Factors include:

  • How the site is laid out
  • The color scheme
  • Spacing on the page
  • The symmetry of the site
  • The amount of written content
  • The fonts used
  • How mobile friendly the site is

Quality images, video and content are engaging on a site. Google preaches that quality content will get you the most visibility on local searches. We need to pay attention to what Google says. If we have any hope to get past the first-impression stage of engagement, we must rely on what we’re showing visually and saying textually. The bonus factor here is that Google will reward you with higher search ranking potential when you have high-quality video and written content, thus giving you a better chance of getting engaged.

To ensure you get engaged with your target audience, you need to have relevant, instructional content: “Your accident was stressful. Let us take it from here, we will handle everything so you don’t have to. We will even pick you up and get you in a comfortable rental car, handle the claim for you and much more.”

The same can be said about social media engagement. Quality content that engages your audience will help you get engaged and in a relationship. You’ve probably heard me say it before: Do not market or advertise all the time on your social media accounts. Your content needs to build on the relationship you have with your followers, and that’s achieved through engagement with them, Likes, shares and comments.

Measuring Your Success

If you receive Google Analytics reports on your website, look beyond the amount of traffic on your website. Consider the “bounce rate,” or the number of minutes or seconds visitors spend on your site and the pages they view. Your website’s bounce rate is the number of people who do not venture beyond the home page; they hit the back button and leave quickly. The lower the bounce rate, the better. The industry average bounce rate is 70 to 80 percent. The industry average time on a site is less than a minute. The pages viewed is about 1.7 pages. The higher these are, the more engaging the site is. Page loading time is also a factor. If it takes longer than two seconds to load, you’ll lose a percentage of prospects due to impatience. Test here: https://gtmetrix.com/.

For social media, you can look at your Facebook insights for the impressions and views you receive and see how many times people engaged with what you posted. Compare this month to month and look at the types of things people engage with. If you see a pattern of behavior by your target audience, feed quality content to them that is similar. Community service is one of the best things you can post for engagement. Video gets more engagement than all other types of posting combined.

Summary

Your goal should be to get engaged with your target audience, then form a long-term relationship by keeping them engaged. Do good work, gain followers and get engaged with them over and over again. Then, someday when they or a friend or family member needs a body shop, they will remember who they have been engaged with for weeks, months or years. It takes some work, but any relationship worth keeping does.

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