Word of mouth has always been important for growing any business, especially in the automotive industry. But as technology has evolved, the internet and social media have easily become the biggest mouths out there. As a transmission shop owner, you can harness these powerful media to control your business’s online reputation.
In web marketing, this practice is known as Online Reputation Management (ORM). It uses a mix of web content, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and branding. Today’s savviest transmission shop owners are taking advantage of these ORM strategies to increase business.
ORM Strategies in Action
Mario Jauregui is the owner of Ralph’s Transmission in Modesto, Calif. He took over the shop in 2015 and completely rebranded it with an aggressive marketing plan that includes multiple ORM strategies.
In the months since opening, he’s been able to steadily build his revenue to numbers well beyond his initial projections. As of April 2016, Mario attributes over 40% of his business to online sources. Some of the resources used by Ralph’s Transmission are a weekly blog on their web site, monthly online press releases, a Yelp!-integrated marketing package, Google AdWords, and thorough SEO implemented by his web provider.
“The results have been simply incredible,” says Mario. “We get so many new customers as a result of the in-depth content, and that has enabled us to control our online reputation.”
As Mario has learned, there are several components to building a strong online reputation. It also takes time to move up the rankings in search engines. Following some key steps can help your shop move in the right direction.
Building an Online Presence
It all starts by having a good online presence. The mistake many business owners of all types make is thinking that all they have to do is put up a web site and the business will come. This approach never works.
First, make sure your site is integrated with search keywords and meta tags. These are the foundations for effective SEO.
Today’s web sites need to be mobile-friendly, as well. This means the site needs to be easily viewable on different mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) along with traditional computer web browsers.
In addition, quality branding goes a long way toward building a strong reputation. In other words, you want your site to look good.
Dynamic Web Content
Even the best-looking web sites with excellent keyword integration will only get you so far. You can’t simply put up a web site that never changes and expect to get business from it. One of the best ways to improve your search engine rankings is by adding new content as often as possible. This is known as dynamic web content.
One of the best ways to add dynamic content is by having a blog. Make an effort to post as often as you can, ideally at least once a week. Too many business owners start a blog with the best intentions, only to post a couple of times and then forget about it.
You can post about anything relating to your business: shop news, training events, product reviews, employee profiles, service features, deals, warranty information, and customer stories/testimonials are just a few good ideas to consider. They can be as long or as short as you want, but generally try to keep them around 300-500 words.
Social Media Integration
Share a link to every blog post you make on any social media sites where you have accounts. This creates inbound and outbound links that also help with SEO.
And, just like having dynamic web content regularly added to your web site, keep posting as often as you can on your social media pages. Ideally, you should be sharing something at least once a day. Social media sites are generally free marketing resources, so why not get the absolute most out of them?
Monitor Your Feedback
Several times a week, if not daily, you should be checking everyplace where reviews of your business are posted online. It’s easy to look on Yelp! , YP.com , your social media pages, and even your own web site if customers can post reviews there.
Every single person who posts a review should get a personal follow-up from your shop. Whether it’s a letter, an email, or a phone call, you’ll want to touch base with your customers who took time out of their days to write something about your shop.
This means positive and negative reviews: For those posting positive testimonials, you’ll want to provide a simple “thank you,” check in on how their car is doing, and ask for their referral business.
For negative reviewers, it’s even more important that you follow up personally. You might be able to dig deeper into the problem, resolve their concerns, or at least learn from the experience. If there’s something they didn’t like about the way you did business, use that knowledge to implement different service strategies in the future.
Put ORM to Work for You
Because the internet and social media are so widespread, there’s no way to control everything that ever gets said about you or your shop online. But if you put out a lot of positive content, it can help drown out any negativity.
Just remember to follow some of these simple Online Reputation Management techniques. You’ll be able to build a more positive reputation in your marketplace and grow your business in the process.
Keith Lindsey is the marketing coordinator for Ralph’s Transmissions in Modesto, CA. He’s always happy to help shop owners evaluate their online reputation management techniques. To speak with Keith, call 714-348-0642 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.