So, you own a carwash … now what? It is time to elevate your digital marketing game, reach your customers and build a brand that motivates customers to take time out of their day and choose your carwash over all your competitors.

Digital marketing gives you more options than ever before to attract new customers as well as keep current customers coming back again and again. With so many options, it is critical to discern which tactics and strategies are the most cost effective and bring the quickest results to get your digital marketing momentum rolling.

Micro-moments

Your digital marketing game must focus on mobile first. According to the Nielsen Audience Report, 81 percent of adults in the U.S. have smartphones that they use about one hour and 39 minutes daily to consume media. Other reports note that adults spend five hours a day consuming media with 40 percent of that time being spent on mobile.

Before we get too far ahead, let’s take a moment to learn about what Google calls “micro-moments.” Micro-moments are those minutes in the day when consumers automatically turn to a device, typically their smartphones, to do something like check the time, glance at Facebook or send a text. These fragmented interactions are constantly happening, and they lead to the “I want-to-know moments, I want-to-go moments, I want-to-do moments and the I want-to-buy moments.” Google says these micro-moments are “game changers for both consumers and brands.”

According to the website www.thinkwithgoogle.com, “Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

Carwash owners and operators would be wise to learn more about micro-moments at www.thinkwithgoogle.com.

The better you understand these human behaviors, the more equipped you will be to craft a digital marketing strategy that will grab attention and convert people into loyal customers.

So, where do you begin? Here are the five things you can focus on to start building your brand and driving business.

Text it

Marketing is all about communication. You may have the best services, but if you are not communicating these services to your customers, it is hard to see the reward. SMS marketing — or more simply put, texting — allows you to have a convenient, two-way conversation with your potential customers using a device they almost always have right in their hands.

Think about it: How many times a day do you look at your smartphone? Well,  research shows that the average person turns to his or her phone approximately 150 times per day. This goes back to micro-moments — fragmented moments of time that influence people.

SMS marketing can play a huge role in developing your brand identity. You are telling your customers that you are tech-savvy and current with the trends. You show them that you are willing to make things more convenient for them by putting specials and other communications right at their fingertips.

Other benefits to SMS marketing include affordability, convenience and high conversion rates. Just like email addresses used to be, having a customer’s cellphone number can be a little pot of gold, giving you immediate and direct access to deliver your message.

  • Affordability. Depending on where you live, SMS messages cost around $0.015 to $0.095 each. Check providers in your area and see what options are available for you. If you are skeptical about SMS marketing, try a test run. Create a VIP list of 50 to 100 customers. Sending an SMS campaign to a small list like this can cost you as little as $10.
  • Convenience. SMS marketing is not only fast for you, the business owner, but it is convenient and easy for your potential customer. A text message is usually around 140 characters and is perfectly suited for promotions, quick updates and time-sensitive offers.
  • High conversion rates. Statistics show that text messages will usually be opened within the first three minutes of being received. Our email boxes fill up with communications that go straight to the trash without review, but text messages get seen. Conversion rates average 8.22 percent for SMS marketing while email conversion rates are closer to 1.73 percent.

The affordability, convenience and high conversion rates make SMS marketing a powerful tool in your digital marketing game.

Get reviews

Customer reviews are some of the first things people see when they search a business category on Google or Google Maps. Reviews are critical for two main reasons. First, people trust reviews, so good reviews boost your conversion rate; second, your SEO and local rankings will greatly benefit from them.

Customers have a lot of choices, and those choices are just a Google search away, so who they trust matters. Ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews, and 87 percent of consumers won’t even consider a business with a low rating, according to research conducted by Podium. That same research also found that even a one-star increase in online rating can lead to a five to nine percent increase in revenue.

There are many places customers can leave reviews, but ones left on Google and Facebook not only bring the benefits of social proof, but they can also give a little boost to your organic rankings.

Knowing that reviews are important and knowing how to get reviews are two different things. It’s frustrating when customers who love you and promise to leave a stellar five-star review never actually follow through and do it, while that one angry customer who no one can please is quick to post rants about your business.

Your strategy for getting reviews needs to include consistency and convenience. Don’t be the guy who gets a bunch of reviews one month and then there is nothing new for months … or even years. Show that people continue to be happy with your services by always adding new reviews. It is better to add a couple of new reviews every month than to get 20 and stop.

How successful you are at getting reviews will really come down to how easy and convenient you can make the process for your customers. Just adding a link on your website and telling them to go there and leave a review probably will not get you the results you are looking for. Increase your odds of getting that rave review by sending them a text and providing the link right there.

There are a lot of third-party providers to help with reviews, and some are better than others. But at the end of the day, if you make it easy and convenient, your great service will be rewarded with reviews that give you an edge.

Verify your map listing

When doing a typical Google search, the first thing to show up are paid ads (pay-per-click), followed by the three-pack. The three-pack is the first three map listings that Google chooses to show. This is prime online real estate for your carwash business, and you want to be here. This is where people can get directions to your business, check out your website, see the hours of operation, click to call and read your Google reviews.

Google will give preference to local businesses in these rankings, and reviews will help determine your position. The first step is to make sure you have a verified listing and then begin to optimize that listing with photos, reviews and current and relevant information. Go to www.google.com/business to claim and verify your listing if you have not already done so.

Be social

When it comes to social media, there are a couple of things to focus on. You do not need to do everything. Find out where your customers are and be there. Facebook is a big winner with over one billion active users.

Related: Wash Wisdom: How to use Facebook for business

You need a plan to stay consistent. Social media is where people get to know, like and trust you. Be fun and informative, but mostly, just be there. Consistency pays when it comes to social media.

Mobile optimize your website

Ironically, one of the first things you need is the last one we will talk about. Your website is your foundation and you need it to be fast, user-friendly and, of course, mobile responsive. People will be looking at your website on their mobile devices, so your site must be easy to maneuver on all device sizes.

Use your website to reinforce who you are and why you are different and to highlight special offers. Consider using videos to give potential customers a look behind the scenes, show them what you have to offer and let them get a feel for who you are. You also want your website to be a tool that makes things convenient for customers. This may include things like scheduling detailing appointments, buying gift cards and checking out pricing.

Business owners who pay attention to these five digital marketing strategies can dramatically improve their online presences, and they can not only put themselves in front of potential customers, but they can also benefit from the micro-moments when a customer thinks they just might want a nice, clean car today.


Katie Harris is a founding partner at Spot On Solutions. Spot On Solutions specializes in digital marketing for the cleaning and restoration industry. Harris has a degree in advertising and public relations and worked as an award-winning journalist. However, she found her true passion in working directly with business owners to grow their companies. She can be reached by email at katie@spotonsolutions.com.