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- Ask the Experts
With all of the attention being given to social media forums lately, it's important to also pay attention to the platform that was the original and probably only online presence for your business: Your website.
I recently spoke with Kyle Doyle, president of Blue Sky Image Group, a full-service marketing firm dedicated to the carwash industry. Kyle has been in the carwash industry for 15 years, and he also serves as producer of CarwashTV.com. Below Doyle shares with us what he believes are the biggest opportunities and mistakes you can make with your website.
Debra Gorgos: How have things changed since a year ago in terms of what people need to be doing with their websites?
Kyle Doyle: While not much has changed, the web presence of a small business has continued to become more and more important. According to Google, the term "car wash" is searched a little over 2 million times per month in the U.S. Of that, 25 percent is coming from mobile devices. These figures have grown significantly over the past two years. In addition to simply looking for carwashes in a specific area, those consumers are looking at those websites and judging the value and professionalism of each carwash.
Debra Gorgos: What are the top 5 tips you have to really maximize your website presence?
- Make sure you show some personality. Ask yourself, "Why should someone visit your carwash instead of the competition?" Then make sure you answer that question throughout the site.
- Hire a professional photographer. Nothing speaks louder on a website than pictures. Find a local pro and spend the money. If you're looking for a deal, search on www.craigslist.com. Inversely, avoid stock photos (generic photos found online). It makes you seem fake.
- Make sure you are listed everywhere. This includes obvious places like Google Maps, Bing Maps, Yelp, etc., but also make sure you're on any local listing sites. Also, most of the listing sites let the owner post pictures, add descriptions and provide content.
- If you are in a crowded market, invest in search engine optimization (SEO). If you don't want to spend money on an outside firm, spend your time reading books or blogs about how to do it yourself. For example, make sure everything is displayed as text, not an image. I have seen many carwash websites simply use the graphics from a brochure and within those graphics is the menu, about us copy, etc. However, the search engines can only read text.
- Add some type of coupon on your website. The term "carwash coupons" is one of the top phrases searched regarding carwashing in the last 12 months. It doesn't have to be a deep discount. Just something to get picked up by the searches.
Debra Gorgos: What are the biggest mistakes people make with their websites?
Kyle Doyle: The biggest mistake I see is having an outdated website. I think operators allow this to happen because they see their website as a glorified Yellow Page listing. However, in today's market it is much more than that. Consumers are judging you based on your site so it has to be highly professional and it has to clearly explain your value proposition.
Debra Gorgos: What's new with Internet and website marketing?
Kyle Doyle: The biggest trends continue to be social media and mobile. However for most carwashes, there are more important and impactful things that they should focus on regarding their marketing. Daily deal sites are getting more and more plentiful and the value is a bit watered down. However, it also allows you to find a company that is more willing to structure a deal that works. A lot will depend on your market.
Debra Gorgos: For anyone out there who does not have a website, what would you like to say to them?
Kyle Doyle: This is about more than just a website. It is about evolving carwashing as a business. No one buys clothes anymore at a mom and pop. Fewer and fewer people are eating at mom and pop restaurants. The trend in all retail is towards brands with personality and companies that base those brands on their target customer. You can still be a mom and pop, but consumers need to think you look and act like a big brand. This all starts with things like your website.