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How Auto Parts & Service Marketers Can Optimize for the Consumer Experience Online — and Drive More Calls

Kayla Hammersmith Senior Content Marketing Manager, DialogTech

The phone call is a key component of the auto parts and service consumer’s journey. For auto parts shoppers, many consumers turn to the phone to ask questions about the parts they’re interested in before making a purchase online. For auto service consumers, they call to ask questions and decide if they’d like to visit a repair center or service shop in person. 

Ultimately, the phone call isn’t a transactional moment — instead, it’s a time to provide more information and encourage the caller to take the next step in their journey, whether that’s buying a part online or scheduling a service appointment. But before this initial phone call takes place, the auto parts and service consumer’s journey begins online.

Auto parts and service shoppers call businesses

While the journey begins online, most auto service consumers actually schedule visits over the phone, and many auto parts customers ask questions over the phone before making a purchase online or in a store. The auto parts and service consumer journey often bridges the gap between online and offline, the initial online search and the phone call. After all, the majority of auto parts and service consumers contact a business from calling after a search — and then 69% of consumers schedule an auto service visit over the phone.

Auto consumer phone habits

It’s important to keep in mind that the auto parts and service consumer’s experience begins even before a person calls to ask about an auto part, schedules a service visit, or enters a brick-and-mortar auto parts or service location. In fact, consumer experience includes how easy it is for a person to find an auto parts or service location online. 

Since most auto parts and service consumers go online to find and research options before making a purchase or scheduling a visit, it’s important to craft a strong online presence. You can optimize the consumer experience from the very beginning by making it easy for potential consumers to find your company online, evaluate online reviews, call and ask questions, and then decide to make a purchase online or schedule an in-person visit.

Read on to discover actionable strategies auto parts and service marketers can use to improve their organic search presence and online reputations, and ultimately promote more calls, sales, and visits.

Maximize Your SEO Efforts… 

Vying for the top spot on the SERP? You should be. After all, the #1 organic result is ten times more likely to get a click compared to a result in the #10 spot. Even if you don’t get the coveted #1 spot, getting on page one is important for visibility. According to a Backlinko study, just 0.78% of people clicked a result on the second page.   

Since most consumers are beginning their search for auto parts and service companies online, these stats illustrate how these consumers are only going to be looking at the providers on page one — so SEO is key. 

At its core, a comprehensive SEO strategy includes optimizing for technical health and solid content. The basic ranking factors to focus on include crawlability, content, keyword targeting, page speed, backlinks, and a mobile-first site. 

When you’re working on SEO, it’s easy to get swept up in rankings and site traffic. But remember: this visibility isn’t just to say you’re #1 — it’s also to help drive phone leads from SEO. (P.S: If you’re looking to drive auto parts and service calls from paid search, check out this post.)

A call tracking and analytics platform can help you connect the dots between your organic listings and phone calls. For example, you can attribute call conversions from organic search, get analytics on the actual phone conversations to determine lead quality and conversion outcome, connect those insights to the caller’s phone number for audience segmentation, and even optimize your website content for the questions and keywords callers are using. Plus, you can tie your SEO insights to your digital advertising strategy by retargeting quality callers from SEO who didn’t convert yet with the right messaging. 

….Especially for Local and “Near Me” Searches

For auto parts and service marketers, your SEO strategy needs to be closely aligned with local search and “near me” searches. 

According to Think With Google, mobile searches for “on sale” + “near me” (like “tires on sale near me”) have increased by 250% YoY and mobile searches that contain “repair near me” have grown 110%

Consider the search behavior of a potential consumer. Long-tail keywords like “auto service near me” or location-based searches signify greater intent. They’re not just looking up informational queries like “what kind of tires last a long time.” Instead, searches like “tires for sale near me” or “auto repair near me” means that they’re close to taking action.  

When consumers actually perform these “near me” and local searches, Google shows the local pack — illustrated below — above of the standard organic listings. 

To show up in this local pack, you don’t just stuff “near me” keywords all over your site. Instead, optimizing for local searches means optimizing your Google My Business profile. This brings us to our next strategy.

Ensure Your Google My Business Profile Is Optimized 

Google My Business is more than just a way to generate reviews (though this is still important — more on this later!). It’s a centralized way for you to provide Google with all your relevant business information, so Google can accurately pull this information and use it in the local pack, the knowledge graph, and Google Maps. A solid Google My Business profile means that you’re even more visible to consumers, which makes it easier for them to find and contact you.

When Google is determining which providers to display in the local pack, three factors are taken into consideration: relevance, distance, and prominence. In order for Google to know this information and be more likely to show your listing to searchers, you need to optimize your Google My Business profile and ensure it’s always accurate. 

Relevance means fleshing out your profile so it’s clear what your business does, distance means that Google will display listings that are near the searcher’s location — so make sure your address is right! — and prominence depends on your reviews and overall web presence. To optimize your listing, you need to add your complete business name and address, hours, and photos, as well as choose the most accurate, relevant category for your business available. 

Also, you should make sure that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is consistent across your Google My Business profile, your website, and social profiles, so you’re not sending mixed signals to the algorithm. Our dynamic number insertion (DNI) technology provides website call attribution that never violates Google’s NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency. This means that you get all the benefits of tracking calls without any negative impact on SEO ranking.

If you’ve never added a call tracking number in a Google My Business profile, never fear: it’s actually very simple. When you go to your Google My Business dashboard and edit the “Info” section, you can add multiple phone numbers. Just add your call tracking number to the “Primary Phone Number” field and add your regular business number to the “Additional” field. 

The call tracking number is now the only number that consumers can use to call your business, so you can connect these calls to insights. The regular business number within the “Additional” field isn’t publicly visible on your Google My Business profile, but it’s still recommended to include it in this field. That’s because this tells Google that this listing is connected to all other business listings within Google My Business with this main line and prevents any citation consistency issues. 

Overall, the above principles of updating your Google My Business profile also apply to other sites like Yelp and Facebook. Since consumers can be using a variety of platforms to search for providers, it’s important to display consistent, comprehensive information on all of these sites. Yext, a listing management platform, makes this simple. If you’re already a Yext user, you should know that DialogTech’s Yext integration enables marketers to track, analyze, and optimize calls to your business locations.

Invest in a Strong Review and Reputation Management Strategy

Building a solid consumer experience online isn’t just about being easy to find — it should also be easy for searchers to see that you’re well-reviewed. Whether consumers are looking for new tires or an oil change, they want to feel confident that they’re calling a trustworthy and well-regarded business. (Also, your Google review count and score play a role in local search rankings. In other words, positive Google reviews can help you rank higher on the SERP!)

According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Survey, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling trust for a business and positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use a business.

And yet this doesn’t mean that only 5-star reviews are desirable. In fact, a recent survey found that 72% of respondents believe that 5-star ratings are not entirely credible or not credible at all and that 67% of respondents survey said that they would rather buy from a company “that seems to have made a small mistake and responded quickly” rather than one that has “never made a mistake.”

There are two components of a successful reputation management strategy: 1) increasing your positive reviews helps consumers trust your brand and take the next step and 2) responding to any negative reviews in a timely manner proves your authenticity. 

To increase your reviews, make sure your staff members are trained on how to ask for positive reviews and ensure that you’re linking to review sites on your website. As for responding to reviews, set up a clear, uniform approach for dealing with both positive and negative reviews. 

What Next?

The consumer experience doesn’t just start when a person places an order or walks into a brick-and-mortar location — or even when they pick up the phone. It begins when consumers find you online. For auto parts and service marketers, establishing a strong SEO, local search, directory management, and reputation management strategy is how you create this positive consumer experience. 

Of course, this is just the beginning of the experience. Once consumers find you online and pick up the phone, there’s so much more to consider. Are consumers being routed to the right call center or location? Are staff members handling calls well? Are calls going unanswered? How many service appointments or parts orders are actually made over the phone? Are you identifying when CX issues take place over the phone? Are your agents following up on these CX calls to promote a positive experience and prevent negative online reviews? 

That’s where a call tracking and analytics platform for auto parts and services comes in. DialogTech is a PCI DSS-compliant conversation intelligence solution that can help you use analytics on calls to optimize for consumer experience throughout the entire consumer journey. 

Download this ebook to learn more about how auto parts and service marketers can use data from calls to make marketing optimizations and drive revenue.

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