Up Your Business - October - 2022

Winning the Website Battle – 10 Website Essentials

At last month’s ATRA Powertrain Expo, I presented my newest seminar, Only One Thing Matters in the Marketing War. Remember the movie City Slickers? The trail boss Curley, played by Jack Palance, told Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, that the secret of life is just one thing. When Mitch asked, “What’s the one thing?” Curley replied, “That’s what you gotta figure out.” That conversation between Curley and Mitch was the inspiration for my seminar title.

The one thing that matters in the Marketing War is Winning. It’s a war to occupy territory in the customers’ minds. That territory is called TOMA, an acronym for Top Of Mind Awareness. TOMA is like instant recall. When somebody needs your services, your company will come to the top of their mind if you have TOMA.

Wars are comprised of many battles often fought over many years, and the Marketing War is no exception. While my seminar dealt with several types of battles, this article is about just one. Since the invention of television, nothing in the history of marketing has had more impact on the Marketing War than the internet – digital marketing and websites. Winning the Website Battle is crucial in today’s marketplace.

To win, you need a battle plan. All battle plans begin with a clear mission – call it a purpose, goal, or objective if you prefer. Whatever you call it, it clearly defines the desired outcome. I believe a clear goal is missing from virtually all marketing plans and from most shop websites.

The type of website you’ll need depends on your battle plan. This might surprise you, but there are primarily just two types of websites – those that tell and those that sell. Under these two types, there are wide varieties and an endless list of functions and features.

The primary purpose of a tell website is to showcase a company as an authority in a business category. Whereas sell websites are designed to get customers to take desired, predetermined actions like making purchases, booking appointments, or contacting the company. When customers take any of these actions, it’s called a conversion.

Most shop owners I’ve talked to about internet marketing have expressed disappointment in the quantity and quality of the internet inquiries they’re getting – too many tire kickers, know-it-alls, and price shoppers. In short, their expectations aren’t being met. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting, it could be that you don’t understand the primary purpose of an automotive/ transmission repair website.

Additionally, many shop owners are disappointed because they believe their website can do the sales job for them. They load up the site with information about the shop that only the shop owner and the competition understand and care about. They anticipate and attempt to answer every conceivable question or concern customers might have that would prevent them from booking and buying the necessary repairs. Some sites even have interactive tools that calculate whether customers should fix their car or buy another one. These websites are tell websites – a call-to-action is unclear, weak, or nonexistent.

All these “widgets and gadgets” are overwhelming when designing a website, but they’re also overwhelming for website visitors. Website users have short attention spans and dislike feeling confused or overwhelmed. You have less than 8 seconds to capture the prospect’s attention, or they’ll move on to the next website. Dennis Madden states, “Everything of meaning can be put in the form of a pamphlet.” He adds, “The point being that so much is so detailed that people don’t read it.”

The truth is that websites are nothing more than digital pamphlets, brochures, or flyers. Auto repair websites aren’t hangouts like social and gaming sites. Over half of all inquiry searches are verbal. “Hey, Google! Best auto repair shops near me” is today’s equivalent of “Let your fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages.” You could say that websites are the Yellow Pages of the digital age. (I know that many of you don’t even know what the Yellow Pages are or think they’re just a door stop, but most of you will get it. Those of you who get it, please explain to the younger folks.)

For repair shop websites, leads and inquiries are the currency of conversion. This is no different from any other form of advertising shops have done for decades. The purpose of all advertising, including your website, is to create leads, whether by phone, text, email, in person, or even smoke signals. The key to making your website and advertising payoff is for you and your team to become great at handling the leads and inquiries.

Great automotive/transmission repair websites maintain a good conversion rate while also positioning you as an authority. An authoritative website is Google compliant, raises brand awareness, and positions your shop as authentic and trustworthy. Think of it as a form of digital validation. When you have a good website, you’re perceived as legitimate. However, in today’s marketplace if you don’t have a website, people wonder, “Why?”

Less is more. Consider a KISS website. Think about reducing the number of steps and pages, displaying only what’s necessary, trimming away the excess, and leaving a clean and simple website that does the job. This will deliver higher conversion ratios.

Here are 10 website essentials. They’re not arranged in any order of importance because they’re all essential.

  1. Mobile-friendly – Make it look good, and function well on cell phones, tablets, and computers. Nearly 70% of customers initiate searches on their smartphones. Remember, it’s often an emergency or urgent when customers need you.
  2. Google-friendly – Note that 95% use Google Search. So, your website must be Google compliant.
  3. Brand identity – Within moments of landing on your site, the visitor must know…
    • Who you are – Business name and, if appropriate, a flattering street-view picture that they might recognize as a shop they’ve driven by and seen before.
    • What you do – Your company name might be sufficient if you’re a transmission-only shop with transmission in your name. But if you do more, be concise and not too detailed. Don’t list everything you work on when “bumper-to-bumper” will do.
    • Where you are – Make it easy for them to find you. Use a wide-scope description like “Serving the Quad Cities” and zero in with the city name and address. Include a 1-click or verbal-command interactive map.
    • How to contact you – Make contacting you as easy as possible. Clearly display your phone number, website, email, and link-to-text. Make it click-to-call or verbal command – don’t make them copy & paste or type your number to call you. Simplify your Contact Form.
  4. Tell them why you’re their best choice – “Where friends send their friends.” Include three or four short customer praise reviews to prove your claim. Include the customer’s first name and city where they live to improve geo-specific search engine results. In just a few words, tell them what makes your shop unique and how it benefits them.
  5. KISS – Keep it simple and easy, with just 1 or 2 pages and 1-click navigation.
  6. Include any compelling customer benefits you offer, such as
    • Free towing
    • Free loan car
    • Shuttle service
    • Same-day appointments
    • One-day service
    • ATRA Coast-to-Coast Warranty
    • Display Credit Card Symbols
    • Car Shield, extended warranties, and insurance accepted
    • RV parking and hookups
  7. Use concise, clearly written, relevant content. Avoid clever, fancy, and gimmicky wording. Update content frequently – Google likes this.
  8. Use various keywords and phrases. Do not practice “keyword stuffing.” Google hates this and will penalize you for doing it.
  9. Liberally use nearby location references. Including nearby city names, zip codes, and local landmarks like Old Town will help drive geo-specific search results.
  10. You’re just creating leads. Your website is a live marketing flyer – a 7-second elevator speech. You’re not selling repairs on your website.

When you evaluate your website, answer these four questions.

  1. Is my website a tell or sell website? If there’s no clear and obvious call-to-action, change it. It’s essential to tell the customer what to do next.
  2. Is my website accessible, easy to use, and easy to read? Compared to complicated websites with flashy features and unnecessary pages, accessibility means eliminating hurdles and making it user-friendly. Have I left enough white space, chosen a legible font, and been concise in my narratives? Is all the essential information at my customers’ fingertips, and are the call-to-action buttons clearly displayed?
  3. Is my website loading quickly and looking great on mobile? Don’t risk having people abandon your website because it loads slowly. Loading time should be under three seconds. With nearly 70% of customers using mobile devices to access websites, you must design it for a small-screen environment.
  4. Is my website messaging aligned with my FIMS? FIMS stands for Fully Integrated Marketing System. FIMS aligns and integrates all aspects of your marketing system, assuring consistent messaging inside your company and externally in your market. (For more about FIMS, don’t miss next month’s article.)

You’ll never know if your marketing works if you don’t track the results. Dig for and track lead sources. One management axiom says, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Unless you track results, you won’t know what to keep doing, what to adjust, or what to stop doing, resulting in wasting money on nonproductive advertising.

Always ask, “Who referred you to us?” This is an excellent question because it implies that you get a lot of referrals, and customers feel good about that. It also requires them to think rather than give a dismissive response. But don’t be dismissive with your listening. Let them talk. If they were referred, get the details, and send a thank you note to the referring person or business. If they found you through an ad or via the internet, get the details and record the lead source in your lead tracking system.

Good sales techniques are essential. We’re living in a digital world, but we’re still people and people skills are essential for your success. Effective telephone skills are the key to turning inquiries into appointments. You can’t diagnose or fix the car without having it in the shop. The most successful shops do a great job with car care and a remarkable job with customer care.

Is your website working in your company’s best interest? Think of it as an employee that’s on call 24/7 – capable of answering customer questions and compelling them to act. If you don’t know the answer to this question, contact us.

Want some help? I’m accepting a limited number of coaching clients who want better marketing results. My FIMS marketing system coordinates Inside-Out sales and marketing principles with Outside-In advertising methods, creating a Fully Integrated Marketing System. I’ll coach you on using FIMS in your company. If this interests you, text or call me at 480-773-3131 or send an email to coachthom@gmail.com.