Auto Service Marketing in 2021: Why a Mix of Traditional and Digital Is Key

Auto Service Marketing Tactics

Besides a few essential errands, people pretty much stayed home during the pandemic. In fact, one survey found that every metro area in the U.S. saw a traffic decline of at least 53% since the beginning of March 2020 — with some areas experiencing declines upward of 75%. But all that's about to change. Over three-quarters of people say they plan to travel more this year than the last, and most will be taking to the road, as fewer than 21% have plans to travel by plane.

This presents a huge opportunity for the auto service industry. Because cars mostly sat idle for the last 12+ months, a lot of people put off regular maintenance. And if 2021 is truly the year of the road trip, and we're now rolling into the warmer months, consumers will be ready to service their cars. Don't wait to start thinking through your auto service marketing ideas. Get a plan in place now to win market share from your competitors.

The Auto Service Marketing Mix Balancing Act

Arriving at the right auto service marketing mix can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. So many options are now available that you could devote a lifetime to testing channels to determine which ones drive the best results. But seeing that the majority of consumers spend a great deal of time online, most of your attention should be paid to digital marketing efforts — with a focus on three in particular:

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM), as you well know, is one of the most effective ways to increase the visibility of an auto service center on search engine results pages (SERPs) — that is, of course, with the right long-tail keywords. Naturally, thorough keyword research is necessary to enhance the targeting capabilities of your paid ads, as is a retargeting strategy to increase your conversion rates.

Display Advertising

Like SEM, display is another form of paid advertising. The real benefit of this channel for an auto repair service marketing plan is its capability of getting into every nook and cranny on the internet to drive awareness. Websites, social media, apps — you name it, and you can slap a display on it. Besides, display has a lot more creative flexibility than SEM, using everything from text and images to video and audio.

Over-the-Top Advertising

With all the cord-cutting going on these days, any auto repair service marketing plan should include over-the-top (OTT) advertising. It's much like traditional TV advertising, just with many more targeting capabilities. With OTT, you're able to deliver an ad to specific audiences as they consume media over the internet. What's more, 7 in 10 internet users report watching OTT video spots, most of which occur on YouTube.

Though the main components of your auto service marketing mix will be digital, traditional channels still have their place, especially when it comes to building brand awareness. You just can't compete with the reach of television, radio, and other stalwarts of the advertising industry. Radio, in particular, should top the list of auto service marketing ideas, as people tend to tune into their favorite FM channel while behind the wheel — and let's not forget, you'll be talking to potential customers in your area.

Let CMG Local Solutions Take the Wheel of Your Car Service Marketing

While you can certainly develop a marketing mix on your own, it's often more cost-effective and timelier to bring in a third party with auto marketing services already available — like CMG Local Solutions. Our team can manage your marketing budget for the biggest ROI by optimizing your campaign with multitouch attribution.

Robertson Tire in Tulsa came to us a few years back wanting to improve tire sales while also increasing its additional services, such as AC repair, oil change, alignment, and so on. We met with their team to discuss the options and arrived at a mix of SEM, OTT, display, radio, and coupon, where we would promote the center's price match guarantee.

The strategy worked, not only driving revenue at the individual location level but helping to support the center's expansion efforts. Over the last five years, Robertson Tire has opened up eight new locations, and the campaign continues to deliver even in light of the pandemic, as 2020 was set to be a record-breaking year. As Shane Robertson puts it, "Using digital advertising to target people more directly, while focusing on broad reach and branding with traditional media, has been a winning combination."

If you'd like to learn more about our auto marketing services and how our ROI dashboard provides real-time access to all your data, allowing you to track the performance of each marketing campaign, let us know. A member of our team would be more than happy to discuss your options and help develop an auto service marketing mix suited to your exact need.


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