This article is co-authored by Jon Butts.
From your social media newsfeed to your office elevator, it seems that advertising is everywhere. Even the NBA is starting to sell advertising space on players’ jerseys. We tell our clients that in this increasingly competitive marketing environment, they have to promote their shops in a variety of channels. And that often means adding digital media to the print marketing they’ve traditionally done.
Shop owners need to be where their customers are, and their customers are spending more time on their mobile phones, tablets and laptops. If they don’t have a good, balanced online and offline presence — if they’re just relying on the mailbox or digital strategies — they’re losing out.
The shop owners we work with gain different benefits from different types of marketing. With direct mail, for instance, the whole idea — whether it’s going to an existing customer or a new one — is getting into someone’s home in a way that isn’t possible with email or texts, which can be easily deleted. Historically, it has been a simple one-way communication: people get a postcard and it hopefully prompts a call to the number listed on the mailer or a visit to the auto repair shop.
With digital, it’s different. For starters, it’s a more interactive medium. Consumers can visit a website, fill out a form and trigger a call from the shop. Digital also allows for campaign retargeting, which means that you can basically follow a customer electronically once they’ve visited your site and serve them ads based on what they’ve viewed. Retargeting provides another opportunity to re-engage with website visitors even after they’ve left your site.
Digital + print = Maximum exposure
While digital marketing and print marketing each offer their own advantages, the best way to maximize your advertising spend is to combine both methods. By leveraging both approaches, you’ll be able to increase your exposure and hopefully, your response rate.
Digital and traditional marketing can work effectively in concert. Your direct mail campaigns, for example, can help drive customers to your digital channels. Our strategy when developing mailers for our clients is to include promotions that prospects can access by following a link that takes them to dedicated landing pages. Those links are trackable, so we can not only use them to figure out if our direct mail campaigns are working, but we can also gather customer information based on who clicks on them and then use that data in our retargeting efforts. We can also design mailers to send prospects to the main website, the testimonials page (to build credibility) or a scheduling page. The key is to direct the customer to the page that will offer the best chance of conversion.
In the same vein, we can use mailers to encourage mobile communication between our clients and potential customers. For instance, we might design a postcard that offers customers a special bonus or gift if they text a code to a certain number. Once they take that action, they receive a text back with information on how to claim the promotion and also become opted-in for future promotional texts.
Even social media can help reinforce the messages you’re promoting through a postcard campaign. A consumer could be scanning through their Facebook newsfeed and see an image of check engine light, accompanied by a message stressing the importance of addressing warning lights in their car. Meanwhile, a postcard from your shop advertising a free warning light scan might be sitting on their coffee table. The multi-channel approach will ensure that your shop is front of mind the next time that customer requires any repair services.
In the long-term, you might find that print media is a great tool for acquisition, while digital media is a good strategy for retention since it’s less expensive on a per-impression basis. Once a customer is in your database, social media, email marketing and text messaging will help you maintain brand awareness.
Targeting is key
One thing to remember with both types of marketing is to be targeted. Auto repair shops don’t want to blast everyone in their database with an email reminding them to get an oil change. There will be some customers who need an oil change and will get one, but there will be others who were in last week for their oil change, so that message is irrelevant to them. And if the new offer is cheaper than a previous one, a customer who may already have used a previous offer can get upset about the lower new offer and possibly unsubscribe to your emails. It’s important to segment your customers and send them relevant messages at the relevant time in the most relevant way.
With direct mail, shop owners can use demographic research to target the best potential customers located closest to their business. On the digital side, geofencing allows shop owners to target customers in the spaces where they spend their time. You can send ads to a customer’s mobile device based on their current location (say the area surrounding your shop) or a location (a competitor’s shop) they recently visited. You can also take a direct mail list of addresses and add mobile ads to those same households. Another approach is to send a few mobile ads to a customer before they get a direct mailer, so you’re planting the seed for the postcard that will eventually land in their mailbox.
New digital technologies worth a closer look
Marketers are still unlocking the power of mobile technology, so it pays to stay abreast of advertising trends on this platform.
The mobile wallet, for instance, takes mail-to-mobile marketing to a whole new level. Most mobile wallets allow users to save coupons and promotions conveniently on their phone. With this in mind, you could send an ad to someone physically near your location reminding them to use a coupon stored in their wallet. You could also offer special promotions for customers who pay for service with their mobile wallet.
The challenges of running an integrated campaign
Figuring out how to allocate budget for a combined marketing program can be a tough task. A marketing partner can help with that, evaluating your current advertising spend and how it can be effectively split between digital and traditional marketing. What’s most important is committing to an adequate marketing budget. That’s not to say that you need a massive budget, but you will need to spend a certain amount each month to stay in the game. If you can’t do that, it’s tough to have an integrated marketing approach — to do both digital and traditional marketing. If you don’t have a big marketing budget, you don’t have to do both digital and traditional in the same month - you can alternate. It is more effective however, to have both types of marketing running concurrently.
It’s also important to stay consistent. A new marketing strategy may not yield immediate dividends but could deliver strong returns over the long term. It’s crucial to give your campaigns time to work. You can always make adjustments if you’re not reaching your anticipated goals.
Ultimately, it’s important to avoid viewing marketing as a commodity. Direct mail isn’t just putting ink on paper, and digital marketing isn’t just putting a jpeg together and posting it wherever. You need experience and strategy to make sure marketing is done the right way. If it’s not hitting the right people at the right time in the right way, it’s not going to be effective.