It might seem reasonable to assume that online marketing is only good for expanding nationally. While it’s true that the digital age makes the world a little smaller, online marketing can be just as effective in growing your business locally.
The average dealership relies heavily on its local market. While many dealerships are trying to find ways to expand their parts business from coast to coast, they don’t want to completely abandon their local customers either. However, digital marketing can be just as effective in growing your local business, depending on how you use it.
So how can digital marketing techniques typically used for rapidly expanding businesses be applied to the corner dealer looking to grab more of their local customers?
Here are five tactics you can use to grow your local parts business.
Use Local Segmentation For Your Ads
When advertising online, no matter what platform you use, segmenting your audience based on location is key to growing your local customer base. Look at your segmentation options, whether you’re running shopping, social media, or video ads on streaming services. If you can segment your audience based on location or, even better, zip code, you serve highly targeted ads to those customers and only those customers.
If your dealership is in Massachusetts, you won’t have to set up an ad campaign with blanket coverage for someone in California. This also helps you ensure that you’re only paying for customers that are actually going to convert, given their proximity to your dealership.
Then–Retarget Those Ads
Ad retargeting is one of the most effective marketing tactics online. Ad retargeting is exactly what it sounds like. You take ads you’ve already run and retarget them to get in front of certain people. If you advertise across multiple digital channels, this can help you set up a healthy marketing mix.
The great thing is you can set up these retargeting ads to capture local customers.
Here are a few ways you can set up retargeting ads:
- Retarget to users who didn’t engage with your ad.
- Retarget to users that clicked your ad but didn’t convert.
- Retarget to users that have items in their cart but have not purchased.
Ad retargeting with these approaches in mind gives you a few benefits. One, it helps you turn more leads into customers. Two, it helps reinforce your brand to online customers without additional work (redesigning ads or resetting campaigns). Three, it helps you determine what messaging resonates with certain types of customers and what doesn’t. It’s a great market research tool.
When developing your ad retargeting strategy, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
#1 – Break down your target audiences into different stages (i.e., abandoned cart audiences, engagement but no conversion audiences, etc.).
#2 – Test your ad campaigns before you run them. If your messaging isn’t strong enough from the beginning, odds are you’re going to have more trouble retargeting ads down the line.
#3 – Optimize your ads with the right CTA, ad budget, localization scope, and campaign length.
Brush Up Your SEO For “Near Me” Search
Another way to capture the attention of your local market is to optimize your website for the “near me” searches. You’ve probably seen this tactic used before.
A customer goes online and searches for the closest business to them. They type in “find a repair shop near me,” and in a millisecond, the search engine pulls up a list of businesses and sorts them by location. That person will then click on the business that’s closest to their area, and BAM! They’ve now got a lead.
Your dealership can capitalize on this commonly used practice. Implementing local SEO strategies can help your parts department get onto that list.
What strategies are best for your parts department to use for this approach?
Claim and Optimize Your “Google My Business” Listing
You’re already behind if your dealership doesn’t have a Google My Business Listing. Google My Business helps you establish your online presence. Without it, your customers won’t be able to find you online easily. With a Google My Business listing, you can easily optimize your listing to help you rank higher in a search engine.
Use Customer Reviews Wisely
One of the best ways to optimize your website and your Google My Business listing is to use customer reviews. The more positive customer reviews you have hosted on your site and your business account, the higher your chances of ranking on a search results page. Be sure to use and approve reviews with relevant keywords to your customer base.
Build and Use Local Backlinks on Your Website
Are there local businesses you support? You may have a long-standing relationship with the local mechanic shops in the area. You can utilize their web traffic to your advantage as well.
Use their website links on relevant pages and content hosted on your site to boost your local SEO. Not only does this increase your customer base, but it also acts as a kind of free advertising for your existing relationships with your wholesale customers.
Build Your Social Media Community
While social media can connect people from opposite ends of the globe in an instant, it can also be a great tool for growing your local customer base. Social media communities are some of the best ways to interact with your local market and grow your parts business in the process. It’s a great way to build brand awareness and get insights into your customers’ needs.
So how can you best use social media marketing to gain more local parts buyers?
Create Engaging Content
Test out different types of content on social media to measure what kind of engagement you get from it. Understanding what your customers are interested in requires you to put out different types of content in manageable quantities. It can range from sharing out blog posts to videos.
This type of content marketing can help you determine your brand messaging and help you increase your pool of potential customers through your following base.
Join Social Media Groups
Social media is a great way to build community online. It’s also a great way to glimpse what your competitors are up to. One way to accomplish both is to join social media groups. Social media groups can help you build your customer network, establish your brand image, and help you stay a step ahead of your competitors.
Let’s say you join one social media group or, better yet, three to four. What should you do once you join them?
- Post engaging content: Post any content that helps build your brand. It could be videos, articles, accomplishments, news, or whatever you think will establish your brand effectively.
- Comment, react, and share: Being part of an online community means being engaged. You’re not being a team player if you’re not commenting, reacting, or sharing posts you like.
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to be curious. Ask people questions. See if you can’t help them come up with some solutions to their problems. It gives you insight and helps you build relationships outside of the dealership.
Connect With Local Shops/Auto Experts/Enthusiasts
Another way to build relationships online is by using social media to connect with relevant industry professionals. This could be anyone from your wholesale customers at the local mechanic shop to car enthusiasts who love your brand!
Use social media to connect with and showcase their content. Not only does this help spread word-of-mouth for your dealership, but it also helps you determine what types of content resonate with your customers. It’s another way to better understand your customers’ needs and interests.
Building a social media affiliate marketing program is also a great opportunity. Connect with relevant influences in your industry to post sponsored content and ads for you. They collect a little money, and you get all the customers they send you. It’s a win-win.
Get The Most Out of Your Marketing
Online marketing is not only beneficial for national expansion but also for growing your local parts business. You can effectively target your local audience by using local segmentation for ads, retargeting those ads, optimizing your website for “near me” searches, claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, and utilizing local backlinks.
Furthermore, social media can be a powerful tool to engage with your community and connect with local shops, auto experts, and enthusiasts. Employing these strategies will help you create a strong digital presence, boost your local SEO, and ultimately drive growth in your local parts business.
Interested in more information on digital marketing tactics to grow your national audience? Download our free Parts eCommerce Marketing Toolkit.