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Thursday, 01 December 2016 22:05

The Best Body Shops' Blog: How to Connect with Today’s Connected Consumer

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Many collision repair businesses are worried about getting cars in and out of their production areas and having better cycle time.

During a recent Guild 21 webinar, Frank Terlep said to never lose site of how important the customer is to your business.

 

“If individual businesses are not focusing on the consumer, there is a very good chance of them going somewhere else,” said Terlep, founder of eMarketing Sherpas.

 

In 2014, a study conducted by Accenture asked consumers how likely they were to stop doing business with their auto/home insurance provider and switch to another one in the next 12 months. About 42.5 percent of those surveyed said they were likely or somewhat likely to switch insurance providers. The following year, a survey conducted by JD Power found 29 percent of people switched insurance companies in 2015. According to CCC statistics, as of 2015 less than 45 percent vehicles were repaired through a DRP.

 

Part of really knowing and connecting with your customers includes finding out how they are currently using technology. A.T. Kearney found that more than 50 percent of the 10,000 consumers they surveyed said they are “connected” every hour and research has shown that the average adult spends nearly six hours a day in front of digital media, of which 19 percent is on social media.

 

“Mobile is the way they want to be connected with the rest of the world,” said Terlep. The number one thing they look at on these devices is email (78%). “If you are utilizing an email system and sending email to your customers, you need to make sure the emails you send are easily read on a mobile device,” said Terlep. The other most popular activities on smartphones include web browsing (73%), Facebook (70%), maps/directions (64%) and games (60%). “The typical person who interacts with their smartphone interacts with their smartphone 150 times a day,” said Terlep.

 

He recommended that shops figure out the percentage of their customers who are connected and then determine what the percentage of sales and marketing budget and activities are focused on for that connected consumer. He said most likely, there will be a gap between the two numbers.

 

Nine ways to sell, market to, and service today’s connected consumer:

 

Web presence: Terlep said a business’s website is really an online lobby. “Your business will get more visitors to your online lobby than you’ll ever get into your physical lobby,” said Terlep. “The number one reason to have a website is to drive business to your door.” He said some of the important components include a call to action, welcome and educational videos, a blog, appointment options, and ratings and reviews.

 

Online/mobile search: Terlep stressed the importance of ensuring your website is mobile compatible and consider SEO (search engine optimization). All businesses that have a physical location have a Google My Business, which is tied to Google reviews. “You must make sure you claim it and you must drive people to give you reviews,” he said. He also recommended categorizing the business and integrating with social media sites.

 

Social media: “From a business perspective, it’s our belief that every business needs to have a position on Facebook, Google My Business, LinkedIn and YouTube,” said Terlep. Other social media, such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, are options a business can look into after the first four are in place. All social media sites should be an extension of the company website and be complete and professional.

 

Online reviews: Terlep said online reviews are critical to every business. They will increase sales, help you better understand your customers, create customer engagement and improve your website ranking. “If you don’t have an active/formal process set up in your business to request and capture online reviews, it’s one of the most important things you should do,” said Terlep. “Online reviews are trusted more than any other marketing and advertising medium available today.” He said it’s simple to do and can give businesses the highest ROI (return on investment) from a marketing perspective.

 

Email: In 2013, there were 3.9 billion email accounts around the world. By 2017, Terlep said that number is expected to rise to 4.9 billion. “Email is growing and growing,” said Terlep. “Most companies use email today and feel it is much better for marketing communication and retention than any other marketing tool.” Some of the emails he recommended sending include thank you emails with surveys and/or requests for online reviews, informational emails, new service offerings, event invites, and 30-day follow ups.

 

SMS/Text: The average voicemail callback takes over an hour, while an average text response takes 15 minutes. Terlep said 97% of adults use texts daily and 98% of texts are read in five seconds or less! Types of texts businesses can send include unsold estimates/proposals, repair status information, special offers, review requests and recalls.

 

Mobile Apps: Terlep said that 86% of what is done on smart phones is through an app. “It gives the business an opportunity to own a piece of real estate on that consumer’s phone,” said Terlep. In addition, it helps build brand recognition, helps you stand out from the competition and cultivates customer loyalty. He said if shops can convince consumers that an app delivers enough value for them, they will have a distinct advantage over the competition.

 

Video: Some compelling reasons businesses should consider video marketing include: it helps shops end up on page one of the searches; it increases email open rates; it’s the fastest growing communication; YouTube is the second largest search engine; 59% of senior executives prefer video and they will watch for longer; and 95% of people are more likely to purchase. In addition to welcome videos and shop tours, other video suggestions include repair stories and cool cars. “I believe video is going to replace photos as the best way to document damage and other things in regard to repair,” said Terlep.

 

Customer Relation Management System: “If the consumer is important to your business, you must consider a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM),” said Terlep. There are multiple benefits when shops make it a priority to put their customers first, according to Terlep. Not only does it improve sales and employee productivity, it also helps with branding, customer service and improves social media presence and performance.

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