How to Boost Your Shop Revenue With Data-Driven, Multi-Channel Marketing
Data isn’t new, but how we use it and talk about it is. Automotive businesses of all sizes have been collecting and utilizing data in their operations for decades. With the advent of data science, marketing automation, and A.I., there are more exciting use cases than ever with data and business. What used to be available only to large enterprises with big budgets is now open to everyone, from the single-location owner to the multi-location franchise group.
In this article, we’ll go over the most important steps you need in your marketing efforts to collect data, enrich it, and use it to supercharge your shop’s growth.
This is a long post, but stick with us and you’ll get a ton of value!
Here’s a summary of what we’ll talk about:
- Data Points
- Improve Data Collection
- Prospecting New Customers
- All Roads Lead to Google
- Customer Retention
- Text Messaging
- Direct Mail
- Customer Value and Behavior Determine Marketing
- Multi-Channel Case Study
- Marketing Campaign Attribution
- Customer Feedback and Appreciation
1. Data Points
What data are you already collecting in your business?
If you’re like most shops, you aim to collect name, email, phone number, and physical address from every customer that comes through your shop. Of course, not every customer will give you every piece of information but it’s important you at least ask everyone. We’ll talk later about typical baseline collection rates for average shop and also give tips for how to increase them.
Do you know what types of data you could have?
Along with those initial customer data points, your POS is collecting its own data automatically with each customer transaction you process.
Some of the most useful data you get from your POS is vehicle information, like year, make, and model, service information, like services paid for, brand of tires purchased, type of oil used, type of brake pad purchased, and more. Not to mention all of the data you can associate to your customers from third party databases.
What are you currently doing with your customer data and what could you be doing?
Some shops don’t do anything with their customer data. They capture it and it sits in their POS, completely untapped. Others will use their customers mailing address to send a postcard reminder of an upcoming oil change, memorial day promotion, or black Friday deals.
As business get more savvy, they may send those same promotions via email, text, or other online ads. Even savvier businesses recognize the importance of online reviews so they send review requests after each service to establish online credibility and make themselves more attractive to new customers looking for a new auto shop.
Average Customer Data Capture
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These are the average customer data capture rates for some of the basic data points we discussed.
Phone Capture: 69%
Address Capture: 74%
What are your average data collection rates? If you’re not tracking it, start doing so now. Then implement the steps in the next section and continue tracking your improvement.
2. Improve Data Collection
The key to effective multi-channel marketing is clean and accurate customer data. In this section, we’ll go through what data to collect and how to make sure it’s clean and accurate.
There’s all sorts of data you could theoretically collect from your customers, here are the most important to focus on:
- Contact information (name, email, phone, address)
- Services provided or not provided (declined)
- Vehicle info (mileage, year, make, model)
- Customer feedback data (surveys and online reviews)
How can you capture more contact information? The easiest way is just to ask.
Train your CSAs or other customer-facing employees to ask every customer during every transaction.
You can also incentivize your employees to ask for it. Give them points for each piece of customer data they collect and then offer an incentive or reward for reaching a certain number of points.
If you do that, however, make sure you pay attention to the quality of the data they’re collecting. Some employees might try and game the system by entering fake contact info. Or they, might just enter in incorrectly by accident. Always best to check.
For immediate use in marketing, plug the data into your marketing software or provide it to the vendor who handles your marketing. Cinch makes this process even easier by connecting directly to your POS so all your customer data can easily be used in your marketing efforts.
You can also incentivize your customers with a coupon, giveaway entry, or something else in exchange for their email address. You can make it easy by providing a link to a form in your emails or digital ads or by adding a QR code to your mailers.
Ideally for every customer, you will collect their name, email, phone number, and address. If you can only get one of those, get a good email, and we’ll talk about why that’s the case later on.
Services Provided or Not Provided
The POS will capture services provided automatically but the not provided services aren’t as easily captured. Your CSAs need to enter those into your POS or marketing systems so you’re able to educate them on why they need to come back in and get those services.
Why collect both? Because then you’ll know exactly what to send them in your marketing. If they purchased an oil change, remind them to come back again at the appropriate time. If they purchased tires, remind them to come back for rotations or balancing.
If they declined certain services, you can send them educational content about why they should come back and complete those services. An educated customer is a more valuable customer.
The basic info to collect here is the mileage, year, make, and model of every vehicle you see. Again, it’s just more information you can use to bring customers back for more services.
Cinch even has an oil change calculator feature. It takes the vehicle mileage, then uses data science to predict exactly when that customer needs to return for an oil change. This is an essential, must-have feature if you run a quick lube that will increase your customer return rate.
It can also be an effective tool for full service shops that use oil change services as a loss-leader or marketing promotion to get more vehicles in bays.
Customer Feedback Data
Surveys and online reviews are some of the most important data points to capture.
It’s the simplest way to get direct feedback from your customers about their experience. You learn what they like and don’t like about taking their vehicle to your shop. You’ll be able to reinforce and reward your team based on the positive feedback and coach or train them on the areas of improvement.
You already know that online reviews awareness help you build in local search, but they also provide useful feedback similar to surveys. You get tons of valuable data points from reviews and surveys from both of these channels.
3. Prospecting New Customers
There a multiple ways to attract new customers and no shortage of blogs, books, or experts who are preaching what works the best. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to keep it simple and only talk about channels and strategies that have proven to be effective for our auto shop customers. Later in the article, we’ll share the results of a multi-channel marketing test we ran for one of our customers. Keep reading for more.
To do that, we’ll break it down into three important sections:
- Strategic Use of Data
- What Channels to Use
- What Channels to Avoid
Strategic Use of Data
If you’ve been following the steps so far, you’ve collected key customer information, you have it stored in your marketing software or somewhere else that’s easily accessible, and you have good incentives in place so the data your employees collect and your customers provide is as accurate as possible.
Then next thing you need to do is understand your ideal customer profile (ICP).
What is an Ideal Customer Profile? It’s a document that summarizes things like age, gender, location, hobbies, purchase habits, and other demographic information about your customers. It’s information that helps you determine the best channels, messages, and promotions to use to market to your customers.
If you want to use data in your marketing and be as effective as possible, you want to know who you’re trying to target. This is true whether you’re doing your own marketing or hiring a vendor to help you. And it’s especially effective if you’re trying to bring in new customers.
The easiest place to start for most shops is with your existing customer data. What types of vehicles are coming in, imports or domestic?
Your store managers and CSAs will also have qualitative data that’s just as valuable. Who are they seeing come into the shop? Teenagers that are coming in to get their oil changed in their parents car?
Maybe your shop is near a 55+ community in Florida and you want to attract more customers from that demographic. They might want to replace their wipers, filters, more regularly etc.
With Cinch, we have data enrichment capabilities built right into our software. You’ll get data like age, income, education level, number of vehicles they have in their home versus the number they’ve brought into you, and more. That way, you can easily implement the new data immediately in your marketing campaigns. For example, you can run a search for current customers with children who will turn 16 this year. Then you can run a unique “new driver” special to bring them in for a service.
That’s just one of many use cases. Once you have the enriched data, you can decide the best products or services to market to your customers. We talked about this above. It changes based on the demographic you’re marketing to, based on data points like age, geographic area, and year, make, and model of the vehicle.
Use the Right Channels
1. Paid Ads (Google, Facebook, Audio Streaming, etc.)
The details you put on paper from your ICP exercise help a lot here because you’ll know exactly what to include in order to target the right customers. It’s even more important to connect your POS so all your customer data passes through to the various ad platforms so you can display ads to them.
You can even segment based on customer value so you can spend more money to get those customers to come back and less money on low value or lower frequency customers.
To take your customer data one step further, you can use it to create lookalike audiences in the ad platforms. That’s where the platform, like Facebook or Google, will use their data points and will find more people that are similar to your customers that may not have heard about you yet. That can be a prime audience for new customer acquisition.
Programmatic advertising becomes pretty effective here as well because you can run commercials to drivers in your area on Spotify, YouTube, Podcasts, Pandora, iHeart Radio, and more. That means showing up where your customers are listening or watching content, often at a much lower CPM than you get with traditional local radio.
2. Local Marketing
There are a lot of opportunities here. If you have a lot of high school aged kids coming in, you can sponsor high school athletics or fundraisers so you’re staying in front of them and getting good brand recognition. You do the same with professional or semi-professional sports teams in your area.
3. Organic Social
Posting content that is relevant to your local community, things that resonate with them and connect with them at that local level. Continuing the example about high school athletics, you can post pictures and updates about the scores or results of games, awards the students win, or anything like that.
Use the understanding of your ICP to send mail to the customers or prospects that are exactly who you want to attract to your business.
5. What Channels NOT To Use
Do not use purchased lists of emails and phone numbers in your marketing. You run the risk of getting your promotional email going to the spam folder and your email domain getting blocked from sending all together, even internally to the employees in your office. That’s the case even if you only purchase a list that aligns with your ICP.
Worse yet, if you send text messages to people who didn’t ask for them, the FCC can fine you up to $1200 per violation. To avoid this, but still get all the benefits of email and text marketing, follow the tips we shared earlier for asking customers for their contact info and permission to send them marketing messages about your business. If you do that right, you’ll have thousands of happy customers continually coming back for more and more services.
4. Google: Your prospect’s last stop (all roads lead back to Google!)
This stat alone should be enough to convince you that Google deserves your full attention: 78% of US consumers say they check Google reviews before they patronize a new business.
If you’re doing local marketing with billboards for example, an interested person might see the billboard while they’re driving, then type the keyword from it that they remember later on into their phone. They might even use a voice command like, “hey, Google” and then say the keyword. Google will then serve them the first listings that are connected to those keywords in their area, so it’s important that you have your Google My Business profile properly created and optimized to rank you first in those search results.
Those reviews are the first thing the person will consider when they see your listing. Anything lower than 4 stars is going to make consumers suspect of coming in. If yours is lower than that, the best way to increase it is to start sending review requests to every customer you service. By the law of averages, you’ll automatically start getting more reviews and bolstering your ranking.
When ranking you in search, Google also looks at how frequently reviews are being left. So the more consistently you can send review requests, the more consistent your reviews will be. That’s why sending it after each service makes the most sense.
Something Else Not to Do: Review Gating
What is review gating? It’s where you send the customer a pre-survey before inviting them to leave a Google review to find out what rating they plan to give you before they actually write their review.
You might do it with a pre-survey that asks the customer to rate you on a scale of 1-5. If they say 4-5, you send them a Google review link to leave a Google review, if they say 1-3, you send them a link to an internal form so you can resolve the issue yourself. While in theory, this sounds like a reasonable approach, Google frowns upon it because you’re gaming the system to only feature positive customer experiences on your reviews instead of showing your true colors.
It’s right there in Google’s Terms of Service. If you get caught, they may pause your listing and even wipe out all your past reviews. Just like you want clean and accurate data about your customers, Google wants clean and accurate data about their experiences at your shop so they can be a trusted source of information for future customers.
The ironic part is that review gating actually decreases the number of overall positive reviews people will leave since you’re essentially asking them to rate you twice, once with your initial internal survey and again when you ask them to leave their “real” review on Google. Most of your customers will leave you a 4 or 5 star review by default.
Make sure you respond to reviews as well. It helps with SEO and shows prospective customers that you care, especially negative reviews. Most consumers say they care more about a company’s response to a negative review than they do about the negative review itself. It helps to build trust and confidence that if something goes wrong with their future service, they’ll take care of you just like you did with other customers.
5. Customer Retention
Is customer retention part of your marketing strategy? If not, here are three reasons it should be:
- Return customers spend significantly more money than new customers
- It costs 7x less to retain a customer vs acquiring new customers
- Repeat customers spend 67% more
Customer Retention Value
Return customers spend significantly more than first time customers.
Customer retention ultimately comes down to building a relationship and trust. When you recommend services that are actually needed and don’t try to upsell them on unnecessary items, they’ll trust you more. For example, let’s say a customer comes in on their second or third visit and you recommend they change their wiper blades because they really need it, but you didn’t recommend that before. They’ll realize you didn’t mention that before and might not trust that it’s something they actually need.
Customer Retention Marketing
Email and Text are the two most important channels to for customer retention.
Our CEO, Justin Rae, recently went to one of our customer locations to get his oil changed. He wanted to see if the tech would ask him for any contact info or try to upsell him on anything. He was shocked that when it came time to ask for his contact info, they tech said, “Yeah they want me to ask you for your email and phone number but I don’t really know why.”
Luckily, he was able to send a note to the shop owner about the experience. It just goes to show that telling your CSAs and techs why they’re asking for customer contact info is crucial to getting them on board to do it.
Once you have the email and phone number, it also opens up digital ad audiences like Facebook, Google, Spotify, YouTube, Podcasts, and more. You can run different ads to high vs. low-value customers, customers with services coming due, lapsed services, etc. You can also show educational or entertaining content that helps establish trust and a need for your services.
If you’re using the right marketing software, like Cinch, you don’t have to use “spray and pray” tactics for your messages where you send the same weekly coupon/offer to everyone in your database. You can send targeted messages to customers based on when their service is coming due, specific services they declined the last time they came in, services unique to their vehicle year, make, or model, or based on any other data point you have about them.
That’s why it’s crucial to have your POS data connected to your marketing software. It instantly makes your marketing easier to do and more effective.
Three campaign ideas you can try for immediate ROI
1 – Price Sensitivity Campaigns – Send dynamic coupon values based on customer need. Some of your customers only need a reminder to come back, they don’t need a coupon to incentivize them, others might need a reminder and a $5 coupon, while others might need a $10 coupon. Software like Cinch helps you track that and sends the perfect reminder to each customer to maximize your ROI.
2 – Vehicle Specific Education – Send information about the needs of their vehicle specific to the year, make, and model. The extra time and effort this might take will pay off when your customers are receiving information that’s specific to what they need.
3 – General Customer Education – A great example here is a serpentine belt. It’s a funny name, important for every vehicle, but most customer don’t know anything about them. If they decline that service, you can send them follow-up marketing with a blog or video that explains why a serpentine belt is important to the health and safety of their vehicle, then they’ll be more likely to come in and get that service.
It’s still one of the most valuable channels, especially when you build trust, don’t spam your customers, and only send relevant content.
An email is a customer’s digital fingerprint. It allows you to show them ads all across the internet. It’s the key to digital ad platforms, even if they unsubscribe from your emails, you’ll still be able to serve them ads. It just becomes feedback that you can use to improve your marketing and send them different offers or educational content. For most companies, their digital ad spend is their number one marketing expense, so make it count!
You can even suppress spend on the bad fit customers or the customers that just aren’t coming back.
You also need to make sure you monitor your email domain reputation. Here are three crucial factors to watch out for:
- Use your own domain (not Google, Yahoo, etc.) it increases your deliverability and credibility. It’s worth the investment. Etc.
- Have a steady sending habit. Building trust takes time and you have to be consistent. It helps with the email servers you’re sending to and helps customers get used to seeing your messages.
- Create engaging content. Reference other things we’ve already talked about. You can also include things like directions to your store, AR engagement, click to text or call, valuable information, etc.
If you’re serious about getting an ROI from your email marketing, make sure you follow all of The 10 Commandments of Email Marketing.
It’s the only channel that essentially has 100% open rate but it’s important you don’t abuse it. There’s strict legal compliance with opt-in and opt-out protocols. We’ve all received spam texts from people pretending to be companies like Amazone or FedEx and tricking you into giving them money.
That’s exactly the type of thing the FCC wants to avoid. So make sure the vendor you’re working with uses a double opt-in process to keep your shop compliant.
Even if a customer gave you a verbal confirmation that you can text them, always send the “start” message for a double opt-in.
If you find out that yours doesn’t follow a double opt-in protocol, check out how Cinch can help.
Another crucial thing is to use a tool that will let you send text, images, gifs, and files (SMS and MMS). It makes your texts more engaging and valuable to your subscribers.
8. Direct Mail
A lot of marketers will say direct mail is dead. We have the numbers to prove that it can still be incredibly effective but only if you do it correctly so you don’t waste your budget.
Make sure you only send direct mail to your customers who need it. There are only two cases where this makes sense:
- Customers you only have a physical address for
- Customers who received a text and/or email but didn’t respond
That’s another reason you should be getting an email and phone number from every customer, it’s a more cost effective way to bring them back.
Also, use things like QR codes for more engagement. They can link to your website, surveys, coupons, or anything else. They can also be super effective for prospecting, etc.
9. Customer Value and Behavior Determine Marketing
Follow the chart above for the most ROI on your marketing efforts.
Keep reading for a breakdown of what’s in the chart.
Value Segment – How valuable to the customers is to your business
Reminder – How aggressive you should be with sending reminders to customers with upcoming service dates
Reactivation – How aggressive you should be to reactivate a lost or lapsed customer
Goal – The ultimate goal for each value segment
Top 20% – These are the customers you want to pull out all the stops for. They represent the highest value to your business. You want to send them a reminder for services for sure. If they lapse, get aggressive with the follow-up to bring them back in: email, text, digital ads, mailers, etc. If you don’t do that, you run the risk of losing them to a competitor. Defend them from going to your competitors.
21-40% – Your goal with these customers is to move them into the higher value range. So get a little more aggressive with them than the previous level. The ROI will be well worth it.
Mid 41-60% – You’ll want to be most aggressive with this level because it represents the biggest opportunities for upsells and converting them into a higher value customer. They’re already coming to your shop but they’re only getting the bare minimum services.
61-80% – We can be less aggressive with these customers. No need to spend excessively on digital ads or mailers. The ROI just doesn’t make sense so it’s better to try and control the cost.
Bottom 81-100% – These last level customers are the ones that cause the most problems and lead to the lowest ROI. These are the customers we’re willing to lose. It’s sad to say it but these are the customers you’re happy to lose! They cost you more money, suck your energy and steal time away from your higher value customers.
10. Multi-Channel Marketing Case Study
These are the results of a case study we did with a handful of our auto shop customers in 2021. We wanted to see the difference in return rate based on whether a customer was uncontacted, contacted on one channel, or contacted on multiple channels.
Oil change reminders were sent across three separate companies from April 5th to June 13th, 2021.
Some customers were uncontacted, others were contacted via email, mail, and text. Some customers were contacted via multiple channels.
Return Rates by Company
Every company saw at least a 42% increased return rate for the contacted customer compared to the uncontacted customers.
Return Rates by Contact Method
Contacting a customer by sending both mail and email showed a 28% return rate, higher than any single channel.
However a single channel was still more effective than no communication at all.
Average Spend on Return Rates
Contacted customers spent more than uncontacted customers.
The average spend on a return visit did not vary greatly between the contacted and the uncontacted customers but the contacted customers spent slightly more.
In the first column, you can see that there was a $6 lift in average ticket value in the customers who were contacted vs those who weren’t. If you add that up over the course of a month, that can mean hundreds to thousands more dollars in revenue. So there’s a clear correlation between multi-channel marketing and increased revenue for your shop.
11. Marketing Attribution with Multiple Channels
We’ve established that effective marketing requires having clean data. It also requires the ability to send your message out through multiple channels and prioritize what channels you use for each customer value segment.
The last challenge this process presents is understanding how to attribute the success of each channel. The tendency is to count 100% of the transactions that got a mailer, text, and email. But if you apply 100% attribution to three channels, you’ll get 300%, which clearly isn’t correct.
That’s why your marketing software needs to give a weighted attribution to each of the different channels. That would be 33% to email, 33% to mail, 33% to text, or however it lines up in your unique situation. If your marketing software or vendor doesn’t do that, Cinch can help.
12. Customer Feedback and Appreciation
Up until now, we’ve mostly touched on quantitative data. As crucial as that is, some of the best data you can get from your customers is more qualitative.
Here are some ways to collect qualitative data and things to consider with the information:
- Ask for a review after every transaction
- Catalog all your reviews and learn from them
- Use this data to improve customer experience
- Take what you learn and apply it for better marketing
Doing these things will help you know what your customer’s experience was like, how you can improve anything that went wrong or improve your shop in general, and getting reviews on Google.
This is where you can really go the extra mile and stand out about your competition. Gift your highest value customers with special items to show your appreciation and keep them loyal to your brand. Send things like a thank you card, brownies, cookies, a gift card or anything else you think they’d like. It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way.
Cinch: The Ultimate Multi-Channel, Data-Driven Marketing Tool For Auto Shops
The Cinch team has a combined 15+ years of experience analyzing data in the automotive industry.
That’s why we built Cinch, a tool that collects customer data directly from your POS, enriches it with third-party data, and uses it to automatically send email, two-way texts, review requests, direct mail, ad audiences, and more.
Then there’s the data science layer that analyzes your unique customer data and organizes them into value segments. That way, you can market to them more effectively, know where and how to focus your marketing spend, and ultimately drive more growth for your shop.
If this seems like a lot of work for you to execute on your own, you’re right, and Cinch is here to help.
To learn more about pricing, how it works, and what it can do your business, click here to schedule a personalized demo.