Q&A: Why Shops are Ditching Traditional Media

July 13, 2018
A recent independent shop marketing survey found that 46 percent of shops are no longer spending money on traditional media, like television, radio, newspapers and billboards. A market research analyst explains why.
July 13, 2018—Shops are rapidly shifting away from advertising on traditional media, says Jeremy Spivey, a market research analyst with Repair Shop Websites, and a recent survey sent out to shop owners around the country confirms his findings.

Spivey and Repair Shop Websites sent the 2018 National Independent Auto Repair Shop Marketing Survey out to a few thousand shops and had 218 responses. Through its own clients and through partnerships with ACDelco and Parts Plus, Repair Shop Websites got its responses. It asked questions regarding shop’s basic KPIs, along with how they have been spending money on marketing or will spend money on marketing in the coming years.

“With our backbone being in marketing, we felt it would be a great place for us to start, to learn more about what is and what isn’t working for shops,” Spivey says.

Spivey details what he found with the study, and what it means for the automotive industry going forward.

Your survey found that 46 percent of shops aren’t spending any money on traditional media. Are shops just shifting more of their resources to online marketing, websites and review platforms?

Traditional media is falling back on the list on the great places for people spend a lot of money. It is difficult to track, compared to online search. For online marketing you can see where the clicks are coming from for individual campaigns. If customer calls in, if you have someone taking great, perfect notes you can figure out to some extent where a person heard about you, but that’s really difficult to do in a shop. It’s better to have the data handled where people can see true results.

When you look at how happy people are with the online search category compared to a lot of things, it’s easy to see why they’re shifting resources.

If you have call recording, and it’s showing that someone called from the website, you can listen to the call and hear how much money that call is bringing in, track it to a specific customer. That’s harder to do from traditional media.

If a shop is making this investment, what are the keys to boosting a company’s online search results?

It’s really about creating compelling content for their sites. We tell people you can have a site that looks great, that has a very nice front page, explains what you’re doing, but if it doesn’t have enough content for Google to look at it, then you’re not going to search as well as other shops. If customers are reading this content, it needs to be educational and well-written.

Businesses that focus heavily on a specific industry (like automotive repair shops) are going to have an easier time with SEO (search engine optimization).  That's true for any industry, if you had a company that was heavily focused on serving ice cream shops, they can dedicate the time and resources to understand how to search well for that particular category, and spread that cost over many different customers, as opposed to having to do a bunch of resources for SEO, and charging customers for it.

When it comes to bringing in new customers and getting an immediate ROI, it looks like customer programs gave customers the best return on their investment. Twenty-four percent said it offered the best return on investment for bringing existing customers back to shop. Why is that?

We had two things in that category. The first was loyalty programs—maintenance programs or that type of thing. Second was a referral program. Either the person being referred, or the customer would get a benefit in exchange for a referral. Those were the single most effective return on investment in terms of bringing customers into a shop. Not surprising, because unlike so many of these other things, like direct mailings, or advertising, you don’t pay for it until it happens. You don’t provide the referral bonus until that customer shows up. As long as you have it set up correctly, you’re almost guaranteed to get an ROI.

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