By Beth Walter, Senior Product Manager, Solera

We are a phone-addicted society. People are constantly looking at their phones at work, at home, and while out with friends and family. So, why do so many dealerships rely solely on direct mail and email for their service marketing campaigns? To be clear, direct mail and email are very effective; they will always reach a segment of customers who are open to receiving communications that way.

But what about the customers who need extra reminders, never open emails, or quickly forget about them? If you are serious about increasing your dealership’s service market share and retention rates, you need to reach more customers where they are at. Today, that’s on their phones.

Fortunately, this is possible with highly-targeted digital campaigns. Adding channels such as display ads and Facebook is a cost-effective strategy to increase marketing reach and frequency, which leads to a better marketing ROI and ultimately, more business!

Three effective digital marketing strategies to increase service retention include curbing service defection rates, service PPC, and routine maintenance reminders.

Bring Back Defectors
One problem that dealers have is they don’t really know when a service customer has defected, or why. Today, technology can be used to find people who own a particular make and model of vehicle, that live in your dealership’s PMA and are currently servicing with an aftermarket location, such as a Jiffy Lube.

Facebook and display ads are the ideal channels to target these customers with offers designed to entice them back to your store. Remind them how at other places, they can’t get factory-trained technicians or genuine OEM parts. Let them know that you appreciate them and miss their business. Promote how clean your customer lounge is, as well as all the amenities you offer. Make them a relevant offer they can’t refuse.

This strategy works well with your own service customers who have defected, but it can also be used to conquest new service customers in your PMA.

The key to success for this strategy is to use multi-sourced data that is consistently cross-checked for accuracy, cleansed and updated.

Service PPC
According to Google, 40 percent of auto service shoppers need reactive versus routine maintenance. That means they search for a service center right after they have experienced an issue with their vehicle, whether a light has come on, or a breakdown.

Google also tells us that 70 percent of all service-related keyword search impression share is owned by independent and aftermarket businesses. How can your dealership compete?

Use an agency experienced with the complexities involved in automotive- and service-specific PPC terms. A good marketing partner will ensure that your service PPC efforts don’t clash with your sales PPC efforts, and will keep the cost per click reasonable with strategies such as negative keywords and the use of city names in ad groups.

Another tip is to make sure that search results include a visible phone number as well as links directly to your online scheduling solution, or to the service page on your website.

Routine Maintenance Reminders
Repeat service customers are your low-hanging fruit, but no matter what your strategy is now, there is always room for improvement. The ability to leverage your data to make specific offers creates a better customer experience. For example, there is a big difference between receiving a message that says “It’s time to get your vehicle serviced,” and one that says “It’s time to bring your Toyota Camry in for its 7,500-mile service.”

Leveraging data also allows you to better target vehicle owners who are at defection points; the ones who need new tires, brakes, or batteries. These points are where people get introduced to the aftermarket, so making competitive offers for these products at the right time can help build long-term loyalty.

Do your service marketing campaigns reach your customers where they are at? Adding digital marketing strategies into the mix is an effective method for increasing service retention and market share.

About the Author

Beth Walter is the Senior Product Manager for Digital Marketing, at AutoPoint, a Solera company. Prior to joining Solera, Beth worked at several companies in the automotive digital space, including L2T, Affinitiv/AutoLoop and C-4 Analytics.

Author: Christine Corkran

Digital Dealer