We don’t always focus on digital marketing here on the car wash marketing roundup, but we often do. Part of the reason is that it’s a roundup — we talk about what other people are talking about. We’ll start with some statistics showing where businesses have found the most marketing results.

  • These are the interesting findings of a 2013 BrightLocal survey that sought to determine how small businesses gained new leads and customers. (Full disclosure: BrightLocal makes its money from SEO, but the results are interesting nonetheless.) The highest percentage of leads and customers came from word of mouth. But all the various online marketing tools still accounted for a higher portion than offline marketing (by about 8 percentage points). Here are some of the findings. PPC stands for pay per click advertising.

– Word of Mouth was most effective at generating leads – 26%
– SEO was the 2nd most effective marketing channel – 19%
– Online Local Directories were the most 3rd effective – 15%
– PPC was not considered effective – 7th with just 3%
– PPC is only just considered more effective than local TV advertising (1%) & local radio advertising (2%)
– Online marketing (54%) is more effective than Offline marketing (46%)

So what does that mean? Well, a few things. It means your offline reputation still matters. That means running a great car wash with great customer service and good prices. Good product is still the bedrock of good marketing; it encourages people to talk about you and not just tweet about you. Meanwhile, SEO, pay per click and online directories were still very effective. The problem is each of these cost money, which can be difficult for car wash businesses just starting out. And the effectiveness of old-school search engine optimization is definitely being questioned these days.

  • The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania recently put out a Q&A with one of its Internet commerce experts, Kartik Hosanagar. Hosanagar says a lot of things you might expect. Pay per click advertising is great. Business owners can measure results way more precisely than they could with non-Web-based ads. And once they click, sales are more likely when the message is personalized based on browsing history or past purchases (stuff that doesn’t always apply to car washes). But when it comes to content marketing, Hosanagar has research that may be useful when trying to decide on the right tone and message.

In a recent study, we analyzed over 100,000 unique Facebook messages posted on nearly 800 company Facebook pages. Using state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques, we content-coded each post into a set of constituent advertising attributes, including product informative (mentions of prices, availability, and product features) as well as persuasive content attributes (e.g., emotional and philanthropic content).

We found that inclusion of persuasive content — like emotional and philanthropic content — increases engagement with a message. We also found that informative content — like mentions of prices, availability, and product features — reduces engagement when included in messages in isolation, but increases engagement when provided in combination with persuasive attributes. Persuasive content thus seems to be the key to effective engagement.