Amplify Your Automotive eCommerce Store With a User-Driven Community

Amplify Your Automotive eCommerce Store With a User-Driven Community

Increase Your Sales, Customer Retention, SEO, and Brand Loyalty with On-Site Social Platforming.

Bringing shoppers through the virtual doors of your automotive web store is one thing; turning your traffic into paying, repeat customers is far more than half the battle.

Creating an actively engaged community within and around your web store ensures that you have a steady base of users signing on to browse your products month after month. More importantly, an active digital community holistically optimizes your website for eCommerce by improving your brand authority, customer loyalty, SEO, and social networking outreach.

The Importance of User Engagment 

In the world of eCommerce, increased user engagement translates to increased sales conversions. Essentially, every second that a user spends browsing your website is another opportunity to convert them into a paying customer.

Populate your site with unique content to engage with, integrate some social media features so users can socialize while they browse, then sit back and watch your time-on-site stats climb.

Just as important as the increase in average user on-site time are, the branding benefits you’ll enjoy when you integrate engaging content with social platforming. Quality content makes your site an authority figure on a given automotive niche, while social platforming makes your store the virtual garage in which all your gearhead customers hang out and talk shop.

Establishing a Dialogue with Your Shoppers

Content is meant to be commented on, and social platforming was intended to be a two-way street. 

Take an active role in responding to user comments, questions, and reviews. When users write comments on your blogs and social media posts, jump into the conversation. When they post pictures of their cars and components, comment back and compliment their rides. Doing so personifies your store as an active member of the car enthusiast community, which will do wonders for your branding efforts.

Most importantly, when users post product questions or unsatisfactory reviews, respond professionally with an informative post that addresses all of their concerns. If one user has a product question or negative experience, chances are that other users are concerned with the same issues.

Public comments from your store not only address the specific shopper you’re responding to, they address the unwritten concerns of every shopper who lands on that product page.

How to Build a Community Around Your Automotive Aftermarket Shop

  • Comments and Commentary Everywhere 

Bring your product pages to life with prominent sections for user comments, product questions, and reviews. You want to separate yourself from the myriad of aftermarket shops that feature generic car parts with only a spec listing and stock photo.

Your product pages will become authoritative, with written posts addressing the most common product questions and concerns. All of that quality content will be supplemented by an abundance of user-generated content related to the product.

Google will reward your efforts with improved SEO rankings. Shoppers who land on the page will be more likely to stay on-site and convert into sales.

  • Create a Blog and Integrate It

A site blog can be the centerpiece of your brand and webstore. It’s a hub where all of the best content you post across the web is aggregated. For your shoppers, it’s the water cooler they gather around whenever they sign on to shop for car parts.

An effective eCommerce blog will have a mix of content. Tech articles related to the automotive niches you serve are a great way to showcase your products while adding to your on-site SEO. Insider updates about your shop are a great way to establish a more personal connection between your brand and customers.

Recurring content series such as a shop project car, real-world automotive event coverage, or a product comparison series are all great ways to keep your shoppers tuning back in.

  • Tune Your Shoppers in on YouTube 

YouTube is an especially useful marketing tool when it comes to automotive aftermarket retailers. Whether you’re selling ceramic wax spray or performance exhaust headers, shoppers want to see (and often hear) their aftermarket accessories in action, ideally showcased on the same make and model of vehicle that they drive.

Whether you build a full-blown channel to make your automotive shop famous or you simply use YouTube as a glorified hosting platform, it’s an invaluable tool for creating product videos to showcase on your blog and landing pages. After all, 72% of shoppers prefer learning about products through videos as opposed to written content.

  • Use Social Media as a Megaphone 

Cross-post your content to all of your social media channels. A steady stream of posts will significantly increase your social media outreach over time, and every post is essentially free advertising for your store. Additionally, every social media post is an opportunity to interact with your shoppers in the comment threads. Doing so consistently will further improve your brand awareness and authority.

  • Engage and Interact 

As mentioned above, meaningful customer engagement and interaction are paramount. From the little questions that shoppers post on low-traffic product pages to the headline content you showcase on your blog and social media pages, be pervasive with your user engagement. Treat every comment or reply that you write like a unique piece of professional content capable of adding to your overall branding and marketing strategy – because it is.

Conclusion

Creating a user-driven community around your website won’t happen over night. You have to integrate the framework into your overall content strategy, then grow your on-site community over time alongside your blog and social media channels.

However, once you do have a vital community integrated around your web store, you’ll have a long-term sustainable platform to amp up your marketing ROI. You’ll also have a reliable customer base clicking through your content (and checkout lanes) every day.

Of course, if you ever need help turbocharging any stage of the automotive eCommerce process, get in touch with InteractOne and let’s talk shop.

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Build a YouTube “How To” Channel to Turbocharge Traffic to Your Automotive Webstore

Build a YouTube “How To” Channel to Turbocharge Traffic to Your Automotive Webstore

Traditionally, home DIY mechanics and weekend garage warriors always kept a trusty shop manual on their workbenches. Even today, Haynes and Chilton still publish comprehensive maintenance books for virtually every make and model.

However, most gearheads have long left their printed shop manuals by the wayside. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find a smartphone or tablet lying on the shop manual’s former garage pedestal, with the screen open to a YouTube playlist of vehicle maintenance and aftermarket installation videos. 

YouTube is ubiquitous in today’s aftermarket automotive world. Car enthusiasts constantly tune into the platform for everything from customized car showcases to racing coverage to basic aftermarket installation and repair guides.

The latter can be a goldmine for your automotive eCommerce store.

Why Your Store Needs a YouTube Channel

One glance at the stats should convince you: video consumption accounts for over 80% of all Internet traffic, and users spend an average of 2.6 times as long on pages with embedded videos versus those without. 

YouTube is essentially a second incarnation of the Google search engine at this point – the majority of users looking for any type of video content search for it on YouTube, mostly by default. If your automotive store isn’t on the platform, your site is essentially invisible to a huge swath of the market.

Going beyond the surface, there are a myriad of additional benefits. Properly embedded, relevant videos can add a ton of SEO juice to your product pages. That’s doubly true when you’re posting unique video content and Google begins to categorize your site not just as another generic web store, but as an authority in the automotive aftermarket world with a library of quality videos to back up your products.

How to Build an Automotive YouTube Channel 101

  • Brainstorm a Personality for Your Channel

Whether you’re writing content for your store’s blog, product pages, social media channels, or video scripts, your content should maintain an effective and consistent voice. Obviously, what that entails will heavily depend on your unique brand and personality.

For example, you could create a series of purely technical how-to videos with straightforward narration and easy-to-reference tips like tool lists and torque specs. Jegs does a great job of this style in their installation and product videos.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could create a lifestyle-focused channel that showcases products and how-to guides with a lot more flair and personality. American Muscle is a good example of this style with their videos showcasing custom car builds, exhaust sound clips, and generally more creative content.

  • Handpick Your Hot-Ticket Products

Obviously it’s not practical to produce a video for every single aftermarket product you offer. You have to carefully choose the products that will benefit the most from a video showcase to maximize the return on your investment of time and money.

One way to do that is with some good old keyword research. Identify which products receive a large volume of searches alongside related DIY terms like “how-to”, “installation”, “guide”, et cetera. You should also research your competition to see which product videos of theirs receive the most traffic, then capture some of their thunder by publishing your own video highlighting the same product.

A third method of research is to engage directly with your customers. Read their reviews and product feedback, search Google and automotive forums for direct information on the aftermarket brands and products they’re most interested in. Use that research to choose which products to highlight, then use your video to address the most common questions and issues that shoppers bring up.

  • Get Your Videos Seen

The biggest barrier of entry to the YouTube spotlight is the sheer number of videos that are out there. Over 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute! That’s a lot of competition for attention.
However, if you take it one step at a time – consistently publish quality videos with relevant formatting, SEO, and meta content – your channel will begin to naturally climb up the ranks to the top-tier of YouTube. Of course, you can always throw in some paid advertising or clever viral marketing to shift your channel into a higher gear.

Examples of Automotive Sites That Are Doing It RightWhy Brands Partner with Nano and Influencers

We already mentioned American Muscle and Jegs for the quality of their YouTube channels. Now let’s take a look at how those companies integrate their channels with their product pages.

American Muscle makes their product videos immediately visible by placing them directly in their product image galleries.

A shopper who is interested in the product has instant access to a product review, showcase, and/or installation guide. That keeps them from leaving the store to seek out the content elsewhere, which makes them far more likely to refrain from cross-shopping or changing their mind.

American Muscle does another clever thing with the videos on their product pages by including transcripts. Below the fold of the page they embed the full-sized video so shoppers can watch it straight on the page without a popup or external link. Beneath that is a transcript of the video which provides ample opportunities for additional keyword targeting.

Jegs does something similar with their product pages. They don’t go so far as to post full transcripts, but when available they always include a full-sized video embedded at the top of their product specifications. As mentioned, that keeps shoppers on-site and far more likely to complete a purchase.

It’s a Long Road to the Top

If you want your automotive store to compete with the aforementioned big dogs, you’ll have to use every wrench in the digital toolbox to get your site to the front pages of the Internet. Whether it’s YouTube, Google, product aggregators, or social networks, there are a lot of web shops all clamoring for their spot in the limelight.

Building a quality YouTube channel for your aftermarket eCommerce store is one of many major steps in the right direction. If you need help navigating the rest of the way to the top, InteractOne can help you turbocharge the marketing engine of your website so you reach the summit ahead of your competition.

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How to Diagnose and Solve Bounce Rate Issues on Your Automotive Aftermarket Site

How to Diagnose and Solve Bounce Rate Issues on Your Automotive Aftermarket Site

Traditionally, bounce rates in the automotive aftermarket world may have referred to hydraulic suspension kits on low-rider cars, or the spring rate curves on a set of coil-overs. Nowadays, automotive web stores have a different bounce rate to consider: the rate at which users “bounce” off of your page immediately. 

Put simply, high bounce rates are bad: every bounced user is a potential customer that is lost back into cyberspace, likely to search engine page results (SERPs) that link to your biggest competitors. You also get hit with SEO penalties that lower your page ranking.

Use this guide to identify the issues causing your automotive web store to have a high bounce rate, fix the problems, and keep your traffic from flowing straight down the road of Google to your competitors’ sites. If you need more of a primer on bounce rates in general, check out our Bounce Rates 101 blog

 

Solving the Most Common Bounce Rate Issues in Automotive Ecommerce

Naturally, aftermarket automotive sites are subject to all of the usual bounce rate rules as discussed in our aforementioned 101 blog. However, there are also some common issues that tend to plague automotive shops specifically.

  1. Incorrect Part Numbers

The Problem

Many shoppers find parts numbers on OEM and aftermarket manufacturer websites, then copy-paste those numbers into Google. (It’s way more convenient than trying to search by the name of the part and navigating a myriad of filter options.) If your product listing doesn’t match the part number anchoring your page, all of those users are going to click their “back” buttons immediately with a bad taste in their mouths.

The Solution

You’ll have to open up the hood of your website and get the correct part numbers posted. Double-check the parts numbers with the ones listed directly on the manufacturers’ sites. If you pull your product information automatically from a database, you should probably look into using a different database before inaccurate product info drags your site down in the SERPs even further.

  1. Inaccurate Product Images

The Problem

An even more common issue is using inaccurate or generic product images. If a user is shopping for a cold-air intake and they see a picture of a catalytic converter pop up, they’re most likely going to bounce regardless of whether or not the rest of the product listing features accurate, quality information.

The Solution

It’s not feasible to post a specific image of every single aftermarket component you sell – that would practically be a full-time job just keeping up with a single make and model. Tiny, inexpensive components such as connectors, fasteners, and gaskets are bound to be given generic images.

However, that’s not the case with your big-ticket items. When a user is shopping for a $1,000 exhaust system or a $2,000 set of wheels, they definitely want to see multiple unique, high-quality images of the product before they make a purchase. They certainly don’t want to see a generic press image of their vehicle, much less an image of a completely different component.

Update the pictures with high-resolution images straight from the manufacturer’s website, or if you have the product on hand, snap a few unique photos of it yourself. That’ll go a long way to keeping users on the product page, as well as improving the overall quality and authority of your website.

  1. Sold Out or Discontinued Parts

The Problem

Online shoppers are generally an impatient bunch. If they’re searching Google for a specific aftermarket car part, it’s probably because they’re ready to make a purchase. If the product in your listing is sold out or discontinued, those shoppers are likely going to bounce in frustration.

The Solution

There are a few things you can do if you can’t get a product stocked. One option is to update the listing to prominently feature related products from other brands that fit the same make and model – that will potentially keep the user shopping on your page and encourage them to look into other products.

If it’s a highly searched product that has a lot of traffic bouncing off your site, you can try addressing those users directly with a short written post at the top of the product page. Explain the reason for the out-of-stock status – put it in the manufacturer’s court by saying you’re actively working with them to get the product restocked.

For discontinued products, apologize to shoppers and explain when and why the product was discontinued – the idea is that you want them to realize the product will be unavailable to buy from your competitors before they click their “back” buttons. Then, put together a curated list of related products with images that link directly to the product pages.

Putting a Damper on Bounce Rates

Chasing down the source of bounce rate issues can feel like a game of Whack-A-Mole – you resolve one page, get the traffic flowing, then out of nowhere another page is repelling search users like a trampoline.

If you want a more comprehensive and permanent solution, or you simply need help exorcising a particularly stubborn bounce rate demon, let the experts at InteractOne take a look under the hood of your website. We’ll resolve any issues and optimize your content along the way so your site has the horsepower advantage in the race against your competitors.

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Chassis Codes 101: An Integral Spec for Automotive Aftermarket Web Stores

Chassis Codes 101: An Integral Spec for Automotive Aftermarket Web Stores

The organizational structure of your product catalog is the backbone of your eCommerce store. After all, it’s pretty difficult to sell products if your customers can’t search for and/or find them. What that means for your store is that you need to categorize your product listings in every relevant way possible to ensure that your shoppers don’t come up empty-handed when they’re browsing for a component.

Every competent aftermarket automotive shop has that functionality built in with products categorized by vehicle year, make, and model. However, one very important (and potentially lucrative) spec is missing from most automotive product listings: the chassis codes of compatible vehicles. In this guide we’ll break down the need for Chassis Codes and how to incorporate them into your automotive aftermarket website.

What Are Chassis Codes?

Essentially, a chassis code is like a meta description of a vehicle. It designates what chassis a car is built upon, which is often shared across numerous models and makes. For example, the LX chassis platform owned by Chrysler was used by the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and Dodge Charger produced from 2005 to 2010 – two brands and three models built for five years, but only a single chassis code.

If you want a more in-depth crash course on chassis codes, Speedhunters has a great write-up including a lot of the most common models that car enthusiasts will be shopping for by chassis.

Why Do Customers Shop By Chassis Code?

The main reason customers search for aftermarket parts by chassis code is simply that it’s easier. Instead of repeatedly typing in the year, make, model, and trim of their vehicles – keywords which often aren’t even featured on product listings – shoppers simply type a two- to four-digit chassis number.

Another reason shoppers turn to chassis codes is that product listings often don’t include every model of compatible vehicle. In many cases that would be impossible – some components would have to feature sprawling lists of dozens of models to include every compatible year and trim level.

On the other hand, a single chassis code keyword can give shoppers all of that same compatibility information without having to scroll through endless lists.

How to Incorporate Chassis Codes into Your Web Store

Here’s where things can get a bit tricky. Most likely, all of the meta data for the products featured on your store is scraped from supplier databases. That means you’ll have to wade into the back end of your website to automatically update your listings and include chassis codes Magento or BigCommerce product attributes are useful when mapping chassis codes and vehicle qualifiers to products because you can set specific attributes to display on the product pages, be searchable in the site search and filterable from category pages. However, that’s just the first step – you still need to create content to help rank for those searched chassis terms and show customers you’re relevant and reputable in the industry. 

Luckily, there’s an easy way to take advantage of this marketing solution with some hands-on content:

1.  Identify a number of vehicles and compatible chassis codes that you want to target with your marketing.

2. Create a separate page or blog post dedicated to each chassis code.

3. Make the pages SEO-friendly and include a relevant H1 title. For example, “A List of Upgrades Compatible with the Chrysler LX Platform”.

4. Write some brief, keyword-rich content that is relevant to the chassis code. Mention vehicle years, makes, models, and trim levels that fall under the chassis code to make your content even more searchable.

5. Include a list of compatible components that you sell arranged by category. You don’t have to include every part you offer, but be sure to highlight your best sellers and highest margin products.

A. Mapping chassis codes to products can make this a breeze, and automate lists as you update product data.

6. Share those pages via social media, email them to target segments of customers you know have those vehicles and try distributing those links to suppliers or enthusiasts to link back to your site now that you’ve created a valuable reference resource.

7.  Repeat the process for every chassis code you want to target.

Conclusion

When you’re finished, you’ll have a repository of relevant, SEO-friendly pages for shoppers to land on for years to come whenever they type their vehicle chassis codes into Google. That should help you scoop up a ton of new customers even without making back-end changes to your product categories and databases.

Of course, if you do want to go all-out and optimize your product listings to increase sales volume and user experience – or if you merely need help creating quality chassis code content and marketing it properly – Interact One has your back.

The Future Is Electric – What the Electric Car Revolution Means for Automotive Aftermarket Websites

The Future Is Electric – What the Electric Car Revolution Means for Automotive Aftermarket Websites

Edgy analysts have been heralding the death of the internal combustion engine for decades, yet gasoline cars keep chugging along with ever more efficiency. Nevertheless, all good rides must come to an end, and it seems like the conventional internal combustion car is finally being overtaken on the highway by the almighty electric vehicle (EV).

Millions of electric cars are already on the road, and sales are predicted to surpass 220 million by 2030. The good news for automotive ecommerce stores is that EVs still burn through a lot of consumable components, and they accept many of the same aftermarket upgrades that your store probably already sells to so-called petrol heads. All you have to do is shake up your inventory and marketing strategies a bit to cater to EV drivers.

Maintenance Parts: Say Goodbye to Engine Oil and Ignition Coils

Oil changes are undoubtedly the most common car maintenance procedure. As such, engine oil and oil filters are among the best sellers for a lot of aftermarket shops. Unfortunately, electric cars require neither of those consumables.

In fact, electric cars run without a lot of the maintenance items that you’re probably used to selling. Air intake filters, spark plugs and ignition components, transmission and differential fluids, manifold gaskets, catalytic converters…powering a vehicle with electricity makes all of those components obsolete.

While EVs may drive differently than internal combustion engines they still need to stop. EVs do require brake maintenance components like pads, rotors, and brake fluid, though maintenance will be less frequent than their gasoline counterparts due to regenerative braking technology. Tires, cabin air filters, and car cleaning accessories will all still be fair game also.

As for the powertrain – electric motors and batteries require very little maintenance unless they’re damaged or worn out from extremely high mileage. When either of those things happen, the cost and complexity of the repairs generally necessitate a specialized technician.

In other words, driveway mechanics purchasing maintenance parts to install at home will be a much smaller demographic.

Powertrain Upgrades: Out with Hardware, In with Software

Unfortunately, pretty much all of the traditional aftermarket engine upgrades are off the table as well. Cold-air intakes, performance exhaust systems, turbo system components…any upgrade that bolts onto the engine will be incompatible with electric powertrains.

Some new potential mods are entering the market though in the form of software packages. Tesla already offers different software tunes to suit different performance targets, including their famous “Ludicrous” mode that temporarily amps up the Model S’s power output for straight-line sprints and drag races. Aftermarket tuners are already getting in the game too, such as Genovation with their custom electric power train swaps and tuning products. Less extensive software modifications are also possible, such as artificial engine notes that play through the car’s audio system as the driver accelerates.

No matter how complex electric cars and their computer systems become, there will always be an aftermarket engineer somewhere finding ways to squeeze more power and sportiness out of them. Whether they do so using a wrench or keyboard, you’ll still have a performance product to add to your digital shelves.

Electric Cars Can Still Dance with Handling Upgrades

Automotive technology may continuously evolve, but physics stays the same. If you want to modify a car to go around a turn faster, you lower the center of gravity, stiffen the chassis and suspension, then wrap the wheels in sticky tires. Electric motors don’t prohibit any of those upgrades.

Performance driving enthusiasts and weekend racers will still be in the market for mods that improve driving dynamics and handling. In fact, the market for chassis and suspension upgrades may even grow as enthusiasts have less options to inject performance and personality into their engines and transmissions.

Good Looks Never Go Away

When it comes to aftermarket suspension upgrades, handling improvements are only half the story. There are just as many enthusiasts who purchase performance lowering springs and shocks simply for the low-profile stance of the upgraded suspension. 

Aftermarket wheel sets go hand in hand with lowered suspension setups. From there, the sky’s the limit when it comes to aftermarket aesthetic modifications. Sporty bumpers and ground effects, custom hoods and headlights, along with the increasingly-popular trend of custom vinyl graphics and full exterior vinyl wraps are what enthusiasts will use to make their electric cars scream rather than a set of unmuffled exhaust pipes.

Hot-Rodding Is Forever

People have been modifying their rides since the invention of the wheel. Speed addicts in the 19th century were figuring out ways to cram more heat into their steam engines, wealthy ancient Egyptians and Europeans rode around in tricked-out chariots – it’s absurd to think that driving enthusiasts will suddenly lose the itch to tinker with their cars once they’re powered by electrons instead of gasoline.

Conclusion

The challenge is simply keeping yourself and your automotive store up to date with the aftermarket trends that will lead the way into the future of electric hot-rodding. For assistance with keeping your auto webstore tuned to the changing marketplace, please feel free to reach out to us.

Three Susceptible Demos to Target with Your Auto Aftermarket Campaign

Three Susceptible Demos to Target with Your Auto Aftermarket Campaign

Whether you run an international OEM parts store or a boutique automotive lifestyle brand, chances are you could use a few more customers. We’ve identified and researched some potentially lucrative demographics that, while not necessarily automotive-focused, are quite susceptible to purchasing car parts and accessories if properly motivated and marketed to effectively.

While there are a number of ways to determine which unique demographics to target (stay tuned for an in-depth guide on that subject in the coming weeks), we’re focusing on three niches that are underdeveloped and, with the right marketing focus, could provide your ecommerce brand with an influx of new and loyal customers.

DIY Enthusiasts

DIY activities of all shapes and sizes are on the rise for a number of reasons. For one, building and maintaining things by hand saves money and reduces waste – both of which are economically in fashion these days. DIY car maintenance is no exception

Add in the economic uncertainty due to the  Coronavirus event, and now you have a ton of new consumers who are invested in gear and workspaces for home DIY projects. If those consumers aren’t already doing maintenance on their cars at home, they’re definitely susceptible to the idea. Maybe it’s your automotive store’s next digital campaign that gets them turning the wrenches.

Why Market Your Automotive Store to DIY Enthusiasts?  

It’s right there in the title: “do it yourself.” DIY Enthusiasts are folks who generally enjoy working with their hands, figuring things out, and being self-sufficient. Compared to the average driver, they’ll be much more likely to read or watch a how-to guide, then buy maintenance items for their cars and install them at home.

How to Market to DIYers

Focus on a specific benefit of DIYing with each separate campaign you run.

  • For the environmentally-minded DIY demographic, highlight stats and sentiments about reducing their carbon footprint by maintaining their vehicle and keeping it out of the junkyard. Some routes to consider: stats on increased engine life and efficiency due to quality synthetic oil and filters; the most current stats on the total tonnage of automotive waste in landfills; guides to highlight upgrades that make cars more fuel efficient, or “hypermiling”.

  • For the budget-minded buyer, focus on “lifetime” stats that highlight the amount of money saved over years of home maintenance as opposed to paying for dealership maintenance. Compare the average price of a new car with the much lower cost of average yearly maintenance, highlighting the amount of money customers are saving in the long run by purchasing your aftermarket parts.

  • For buyers who pride themselves on self-sufficiency and handiwork, capture the spirit of craftsmanship. Show images of proud enthusiasts working on their own cars at home with car parts and tools featured prominently. Juxtapose car maintenance with home maintenance, lawn care, and common household tasks so that the customer sees automotive work as another everyday chore to take pride in rather than an intimidating job that requires a mechanic.

Man Cave Dweller

The Man Cave movement is alive and well. A passive search of Instagram alone for #mancave and you’ll literally find millions of tagged results. Not to mention the myriad of blogs dedicated to brainstorming “man cave” ideas and showcasing unique setups.

Why Market Your Automotive Store to the Man Cave Crowd?

Most people build their man caves in the garage. Even if not, the whole spirit of the hobby has its roots in old school facets of masculinity, which individuals in this market tend to value: handiwork, home repair, and car maintenance go hand in hand with the man cave persona. 

There’s also bound to be a lot of crossover in the demographic that enjoys building customized home garage setups for entertainment purposes and the demographic that enjoys customizing and upgrading their cars.

The other niche you find lurking in man caves is the tech enthusiast. These folks are more likely to have a custom-built gaming PC lying around than a custom-built engine block. Nevertheless, being tech-minded, DIY capable, and having a home “laboratory” in the garage means they’re much more likely to handle car maintenance at home – even if they have to  load up a YouTube tutorial on their phone while tinkering under the hood.

How to market to Man Cave Dwellers

The obvious route is to target the inherently masculine sentiment and bravado of man caves. Feature images of tricked-out home garages stocked to the brim with engine fluids, filters, car detailing gear, etc.

  • For the techy dweller of man caves, show off some cool garage gadgets in your campaign too – digital torque wrenches and calipers, multimeters and ECU tuners wired into engine harnesses, etc. 

  • Another zeitgeist to capture in your campaign is the social nature of man caves. Almost all man caves are designed as cool places in which to hang out – car maintenance is sometimes more or less just the excuse to get together in the garage. Show groups of buddies chatting, laughing, drinking beers, eating burgers, all while gathered around a car on jackstands with your products in full view.

  • A final niche to target is man cave dads who build their garage hangouts as a place to bond with their kids. Obviously the sentiment to go for here is fatherhood – an image showing a proud father helping his son turn a lug wrench, a dad scrambling to get out of the way as his kids wildly spray car wash foam out of a flailing hose, or anything of that nature.

Car Enthusiast Forums

Car enthusiasts love their niche forums. Virtually every different vehicle platform has its own dedicated forum where owners post in-depth discussions on maintenance, modifications, and common reliability issues. What better place could there be to advertise your platform-specific aftermarket parts?

 

Why Market to Users on Car Enthusiast Forums?

This one’s pretty self-evident. They own the cars that your parts fit, they’re enthusiastic about said cars to the point that they join social circles based on them, and they’re much more likely to buy aftermarket upgrades and DIY maintenance parts than the average driver.

 

How to Market on Car Enthusiast Forums

Most car forums allow sponsored vendors to market products to their users. You go through a vetting process, pay an advertising fee, then you get to post your products and promotions directly on the forums.

Making your store a sponsored vendor can be a boon to selling aftermarket upgrade components. Users will be salivating for their upgrades while reading installation guides and browsing pictures of other users’ vehicles on the forum, so you want your products to be easily within their digital reach. Alternatively, you can use Google Ads and grassroots methods to target these shoppers less directly.

Conclusion

Users on car enthusiast forums have turned their vehicles into a hobby and passion, so they’ll be more susceptible to lifestyle marketing that connects with their love for their cars. Due to the cost and complexity of performing extensive aftermarket modifications, enthusiasts also tend to plan out their upgrade purchases weeks or months in advance. That means they’re likely to cross shop and be very price sensitive, but also susceptible to discount campaigns and promo codes.

To learn more about how your automotive brand can begin to target susceptible markets to grow your business, contact us today.

Image Search Engine Optimization 101 for the Automotive Aftermarket

Image Search Engine Optimization 101 for the Automotive Aftermarket

What’s the first thing that shoppers look for when considering a new aftermarket upgrade for their cars? Pictures, usually. More specifically, pictures featured on platforms like Google Images, Instagram, and Pinterest. 

Whether it’s aftermarket modifications or DIY maintenance components, modern automotive shoppers generally do their research online. As noted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in a meta analysis, automotive aftermarket “shopping starts with an inspiration, which for this generation begins online.” Browsing images of cars similar to their own is what “stirs their emotions and encourages them to formulate dreams.” In other words, they want to see their car “trying on” the component before they make a purchase.

There’s no doubting that unique, quality images are integral to your automotive web store. The challenge is getting your images in front of the eyes of potential customers when all of your competitors are trying to do the same thing.

In that regard, the journey to maximizing the visibility of your images across platforms – and using that visibility to boost traffic to your website – begins with some proper SEO and image optimization:

Compress to Conserve Data

Google doesn’t like it when you waste users’ bandwidth – especially mobile users, who are often restricted by monthly data caps from their ISPs. Taking a large image and simply shrinking it down via HTML tags only changes the appearance of the image. The same unnecessarily large file is still loaded on users’ devices, it’s simply displayed smaller on their screens.

That creates a couple of problems. For one, Google’s algorithm notices those oversized image files wasting data and dings your site for not being optimized. Secondly, larger files equal longer load times, which Google also penalizes. Having your website populated with unnecessarily large image files can even make it hang up or freeze on some users’ devices, hitting you with the third and final blow of an increased bounce rate.

Create Relevant File Names

It’s only a small bump in SEO friendliness, but every bump counts. Edit the image file names on your server to something unique and relevant. For example, you might name an image of a chrome wheel something like “20_inch_mag_wheel_chrome.jpg” instead of the random string of characters that it’s named by default.

Those relevant keywords in the file name give search engines another opportunity to properly categorize and rank your images. Furthermore, it makes them more user-friendly: users who open your images in new browser tabs or download them will be met with a nice, descriptive file name.

Write Unique and Descriptive ALT Tags

ALT tags give you yet another opportunity to sprinkle your images with some SEO- and user-friendliness. Essentially, the whole purpose of an ALT tag is to describe the content of an image for algorithms as well as visually-impaired users. Make sure all of your images have brief, relevant ALT tags peppered with some of the keywords your page is targeting.

Combining the descriptive file name and ALT tag, you’re left with a nice SEO-friendly image tag that looks like this:

Surround the Images with Relevant Text

Of course, in the end it all comes down to content. No amount of optimization will propel your site and web images to the top of search results if the written content isn’t unique, relevant, and well-executed.

When it comes to images, the page text will further help search algorithms categorize and rank you by subject and quality. For example, an image of a chrome wheel could appear on an automotive aftermarket web store, a bicycle shop, a page offering Google Chrome icon packs, etc. It’s the text on the page in the vicinity of the image – most notably the caption – that tells algorithms what they’re looking at.

Conclusion

Once you get all of your web images compressed, optimized, and placed correctly for SEO purposes, you’ll have a solid foundation from which to build platform-specific image marketing strategies. Create unique, high-quality images, tag and market them effectively on Google and social media, then you’ll really have a leg up on your competitors’ stores when shoppers go browsing on their favorite image platforms for some automotive inspiration. Reach out to us today and let’s discuss how to make this magic happen on your own automotive eCommerce site.

Generate More Traffic by Optimizing Your Web Images Cross-Platform

Generate More Traffic by Optimizing Your Web Images Cross-Platform

Whether you’re selling flashy sets of custom racing wheels or plain plastic clips for interior trim panels, images are absolutely integral to your automotive e-commerce store. They make your website design approachable, they lend reputability to your product listings, and they give all those online shoppers who are visual learners a way to browse your digital shelves without having to read every tedious description and spec.

Your web images can be very effective off-site tools as well. From improved SEO, to ranking at the top of Google Images, to building your brand and audience via social media – sprucing up your web images and sharing them around can help bring a whole lot of new shoppers to your aftermarket automotive web store.

In this guide you’ll learn how to optimize and share your product images to drive more traffic to your automotive aftermarket website.

 

Being Unique Goes a Long Way

Whenever possible, it’s always better to use a unique image instead of a stock one. Search engines will count it as unique, relevant content, which lends a hand to your on-site SEO. It will also make your product listings stand out from your competitors – customers will see your product pages as tailored, refined, and reputable rather than yet another auto-generated product directory from an anonymous third party. 

  • What If I Have a Huge Product Catalog or Drop-Shipping Program? If you have thousands of components listed for sale or a large drop-shipping program, taking unique photos of every product you have listed isn’t feasible. Still, you should take the time to snap quality, unique pictures of your top selling products (with multiple perspectives and vantage points whenever possible). Include those on the product pages along with quality product descriptions instead of copy-pasted manufacturer specs. This will make your pages really stand out from the competition.

 

  • What About eCommerce Stores that Sell Premium Aftermarket Parts and Upgrades?  On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re an automotive aftermarket store offering custom car parts and performance components, it’s practically imperative that you focus your product listings around unique imagery. Whether it’s racing wheels or performance exhaust systems, selling premium aftermarket components is all about getting the viewer to picture the product installed on their own car. To accomplish this, you need to showcase quality images of the components installed on each specific vehicle that the component is compatible with. If a user is shopping for a custom muffler kit to install on their 2010 Ford Mustang, they’ll be much more enticed into buying it if they’re greeted with a picture of the kit installed on a 2010 Ford Mustang when they click the page. A manufacturer’s image of the uninstalled muffler kit or a stock image of it installed on a Honda Civic will come across as impersonal and generic to the shopper.

Turn Your Product Pictures into Billboards on Google Images

All of the usual SEO rules apply when it comes to ranking your store’s product shots on Google Images. Obviously, due to ample competition, domain authority is going to be the biggest factor when it comes to ranking stock images that you host on your server.

For smaller stores, the way to outrank the big dogs is to post unique product photos that are of equal or better quality than their stock counterparts. Google will rank those unique images within the top results of copy-pasted stock images that larger stores use on their product pages – as discussed above, using unique content makes you stand out from the crowd, literally in this case.

To make sure your unique images are properly scraped and categorized on Google Images.(Check back next week for our  “Image Optimization 101” guide.) For now, you can start by surrounding the images with a quality product description, fact-checked specs, and organic keywords that focus on the vehicle make and model which Google users will be searching for.

Reach Some Niches on Social Media

You can turbocharge the outreach of your web images by sprinkling them across social media. Pinterest is a great platform for this because it easily lets you cross-post images straight from your site, copy-paste a relevant portion of your product description, tag some relevant keywords, then set your pictures loose into the wild. Google Images automatically scrapes Pinterest too, so the images you post there and on your web store should pop up side by side in user searches.

Instagram is another great repository for your web images. Stock photos won’t play very well there when it comes to audience reach – they’ll come across as spammy and generic. Instagram is a platform where your unique images can really shine though. Simply cross-post them, throw on a cool filter if you want, and tag them with a dozen or so relevant keywords, such as the name and type of the component, the make and model of vehicle, and colloquial hashtags used by demographics likely to shop at your web store.

For example, you could target pictures of aftermarket wheel sets, lowering springs, and other suspension components at the “#stance” hashtag; or you could target images of customer vehicles equipped with aftermarket off-road suspension components at the “#4x4life” hashtag.

Finding the niche tags that are followed by the demographics you want to target with your products takes a bit of research up front, but it’s a great way to get your brand in front of the right users and potentially build a reliable network of social media followers that you can easily market to.

Image SEO Is One Integral Piece of the Larger Puzzle

Optimizing your images for search engines and cross-posting them isn’t a magic bullet that will suddenly flood your site with millions of viewers – unless by chance you post an image that goes absolutely viral. Nevertheless, it’s an integral part of the overall SEO picture that will give your web store a better foothold on the climb up the ladder of SERPs.

In the end – as always – content is king. Publish great content, supplement it with quality images, make sure everything is search engine optimized along the way, and your automotive aftermarket e-commerce store will have a great foundation from which to build.

If you would like to discuss or explore these techniques or any other site optimization or digital marketing issues for your auto aftermarket site, please drop us a line.

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5 Strategies to Improve Your Automotive Aftermarket Webstore Today

5 Strategies to Improve Your Automotive Aftermarket Webstore Today

Spring time has officially sprung and with it brings a boom in business  for the automotive aftermarket industry. Thanks in large part to the combination of tax return season and DIY’ers getting outside from the winter months. To meet this increased demand and traffic merchants are continually trying to make the webstore more appealing and accessible while adding product lines to spur growth and satisfy shoppers’ requirements. This can be labor intensive with the vast amount of data and content involved. With this being such a vital time of year and resources limited its important to focus on webstore improvements that will be the most impactful. In this blog, we’ll be covering five techniques to improve your automotive aftermarket website and improve traffic and sales. 

Update Your Images

Don’t just settle for stock images. You’re better than that! (At least you should be.) Using just stock imagery makes your site bland, and doesn’t inspire any sort of emotion or urgency on the part of site visitors. Invest in original imagery, and perhaps video if you have the resources, especially for your primary galleries and marketing material. Shooting your own images and videos will provide your site with unique lifestyle-driven content that will connect with customers and give your brand more identity and personality than stock images. Use stock imagery is ideal for part number-specific images. There’s no need to spend time and money shooting your own images of specific SKUs, lug nuts, windshield wipers and other items – focus your efforts on primary gallery and lifestyle content.

Improve Search Functions to Include Fitment Data

If you are selling auto or truck parts, you should already have search functionality with fitment data, but it’s important to also ensure your keyword site search delivers the same vehicle filters and product results as your year/make/model or categorization lookup. For many automotive sites it does not. It is imperative that you make it as easy as possible for customers to find the parts they need for their specific vehicle as quickly and easily as possible. One way to ensure this is to program your fitment data into your on site Search functions for those more specific site searches, such as “year model product line” or even “year model brand product name”. This will give customers another, more direct way to find the parts they’re looking for,which will lead to more time on your site and more sales. 

Update Your Homepage and Messaging and Be Consistent with Your Branding

It may seem like a very basic task but it’s one that many companies, not just those in the automotive aftermarket industry, often overlook. We see many teams focusing on onboarding new products, while letting the homepage and general marketing graphics go stale. This next suggested technique is more popular in the apparel industry, but update your promos and hero banners regularly to entice repeat visitors and stay on top of your competition. In a somewhat related topic, all of your graphics used in site banners, remarketing, even product images, should be consistent in their theme and style for consistent branding. Your name and logo must be prominently displayed on your header, social media channels and official communications. A great example is the page header for Tonneau Covers, which you can see below:

Include your contact information on your site  footer and on the social media channels as well, as customers continually reach out on channels most convenient for them. And don’t make them search all over the site for your phone number or location. We also recommend adding a Chat option to your site, like Zendesk, to give customers another way to interact with your brand and have their questions answered. These may seem like basic items, but you’d be surprised how many companies overlook them, and it’s the small details that differentiate your brand and site from the noise. 

Invest in Content that Adds Value

It’s not just your product catalog and UX/UI that will keep customers coming back and attract the attention of new customers. It’s your expertise as well. Luckily, there are a number of ways to showcase your automotive expertise and reach an audience that both needs your help and your products. Installation videos, which can be created for auto enthusiasts of all skill levels. These can be embedded on your site.

These installation and comparison videos can also be posted to YouTube, where they can be viewed by car owners who are searching that platform for guidance. Make sure to brand the videos with your logo and include links to your webstore and any relevant products in the video description. That way, viewers searching YouTube for product comparisons or tutorials who view your content can easily click over to purchase the product(s) you’re working with or explore your webstore. Adding video content to YouTube can also boost your Google search ranking as well.

Buyer’s Guides are another great form of original content that will attract auto owners to your site. Creating a guide around a series of products or components of a vehicle (Brakes, Cooling, etc) will showcase your expertise and, just like tutorial videos, these guides will bring customers to your site who were searching the web for these sort of information already.

Merchandise Upselling & Cross Selling That Follows Fitment

Another aspect that many sites or modules get wrong is that their upsell and cross sell products don’t fit the customers’ vehicle. This inattention to detail reflects poorly on your brand, and your automotive knowledge. Plus, it could lead to more abandoned carts,  canceled orders and returns. Simply put, you must have your fitment data programmed into your cross/upselling functionality. Not only will it help prevent these fitment issues, but by recommending merchandise that is relevant and fits your customers’ vehicles, you can actually sell more products and create long-term customer loyalty. Which is what this is really all about.

Conclusion

There may be a no better time than the present to update your automotive aftermarket webstore with some of the techniques we’ve described in this blog. If you would like help with any or our recommended ideas,  contact us today to speak with an automotive eCommerce expert and start your trip down the road to more sales.

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Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

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People Skills – Who You Need to Make an e-Commerce Initiative Work with CEO Brian Dwyer

People Skills – Who You Need to Make an e-Commerce Initiative Work with CEO Brian Dwyer

Creating a successful eCommerce company starts with the people. It’s vital that you have a cohesive team that can work together and grow together. In this presentation from the 2019 AASA Technology Conference , Brian Dwyer showed attendees how to staff an eCommerce team that will accomplish their goals, short and long term.

Download the entire powerpoint here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1htpOMvlD2OqmRlGCnpA3xsA8Vh2yxsv9/view?usp=sharing

To learn more about how to optimize your new website, or if you’re in the market for a new eCommerce site, contact us today. In business for over 20 years, our certified Magento developers and marketers know the eCommerce site art and science front-to-back and can help you make the absolute most of your site and your brand.