Wednesday, 26 August 2015 19:06

Body Shops Nationwide are Joining the Blog Party

One of the items on my marketing to-do list for 2015 (January 2015 ABN) was entitled Get a Blog and I can’t take credit for it, but there are more body shop blogs out there now than ever in the collision industry. Four years ago, there were 156 million blogs in existence and today there are more than 180 million worldwide. Shops that didn’t even have web sites now have them complete with blogs that contain weekly posts, sometimes more. Blogs are no longer a fad or even a trend—no, they’re here to stay and gaining traction more and more as they stampede into the World Wide Web.

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A decade ago, people didn’t really take blogs seriously. They thought a blog was for amateur poets, soccer moms or quilting clubs, but those days are long gone. Blogs are an ideal way to enhance your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts because Google indexes blog articles and will move your company’s name up their rankings by regularly sending its search spiders through your blog. And with more players now in the SEO game, blogs are all about getting companies to that desirable first page of Google.

It’s inexpensive to create a blog (using Word Press, for example) and linking it to your web site. In a busy shop, there are a lot of things going on to blog about, including employee birthdays, holiday events (such as a company costume contest for Halloween); new babies, I-CAR certifications, community mixers and so much more. Once you start searching out topics for blog articles, you’ll see that there is a wealth of great things for you to write about.

With blogs now the norm rather than the exception, it’s hard to believe that many body shop owners still don’t know exactly what they are, so here is a rather brief description. A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order. Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual or occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject. More recently "multi-author blogs" (MABs) have developed, with posts written by large numbers of authors and professionally edited. The rise of Twitter and other "microblogging" systems helps integrate MABs and single-author blogs into societal newstreams.

Rich Pannazzo is the Chief Operating Officer at AutoBody-Review.com in Chino Hills, CA, a company that was created to increase capture ratios and instill confidence in consumers when referred to a body shop by DRP partners, dealers and previous customers. They help their shops find local shops nearby, tour their facilities and schedule an appointment quickly and easily using AutoBody-Review.com. In addition, the company also assists body shop clients with marketing efforts—including blogs.

“The collision industry is changing on multiple levels,” Pannazzo said. “Not only is their rampant consolidation happening at an unprecedented rate, there is also a significant change in the demographics of the typical collision repair customer. Cross-generation communication skills are essential to any marketing initiative in our industry. Blogging, for instance, has become an effective way of getting your brand in front of consumers as well as helping your Search Engine Optimization efforts. In order to be effective however, your Blog must be relevant, routinely updated and well-scripted.”

“Collision repairers are not, by nature, good marketing professionals,” Pannazzo said. “And even a vast majority of marketing professionals are not good collision repair marketers. Collision repair customers are unique because 95% of a shop’s business comes from insurance, dealer and customer referrals. Marketing to get 2% of the 5% that are left just isn’t a logical course of action, nor is it economically efficient. Companies such as AutoBody-Review.com have figured this out. Everything done to promote the brands represented by AutoBody-Review.com is specifically targeted at increasing the capture rate of the referral business being sent to those locations. Even down to the unique blogs posted for their thousands of customers each month.  No two blogs are identical and each blog is tailored to the specific body shop that it is being written for.”

Eric Gouldsberry is a Silicon Valley-based media consultant and owns EGAD, a company that designs web sites and adjoining blogs for body shops and large automotive companies that end up at the top of search results on a consistent basis. He has seen the incredible growth of the blog universe and the recent popularity of blogs among body shops large and small.

“The Hummingbird algorithm went into effect during the summer of 2013 when Google announced the change on the eve of the company's 15th anniversary,” Gouldsberry explained. “It was their first major update to their search algorithm since 2010.  At that time, people didn’t realize that it would lead to the explosion of blogs. Hummingbird is all about content and what they call ‘semantic search.’  Google now focuses more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query—the entire sentence or conversation or meaning—is taken into account rather than just a handful of keywords or word streams.”

So, why are so many body shops finally coming to the blog party?

“Body shops talk a lot to each other and they’re always looking at the shop down the street,” Gouldsberry said. “Look at all of the body shops that are gearing up to work on aluminum vehicles, for example? The shops that started doing blogs three to four years ago are in a prime position, because they’ve already established a top position. It won’t be easy to unseat those shops, but it’s never too late to improve your spot by blogging. If you’re thinking about a blog, I would tell you start today, because right now the stragglers are getting ready to enter the fray!”

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