Mobile Service Marketing Closes the Customer Life Cycle Loop

Use post-purchase messaging to build long-lasting relationships

Mobile service marketing offers an opportunity to build lasting relationships with buyers.

The days of a painted billboard on the side of a service shop are long gone, and even if nostalgia makes the idea seem quaint, digital and mobile marketing have surpassed the billboard by leaps and bounds.

Automotive service occupies a unique space within the industry far from the “every five years” vehicle purchase. Customers take advantage of service departments multiple times a year for oil changes, tire rotations, brake replacements, and countless other needs.

The frequency of these visits presents an excellent opportunity to build strong, lasting relationships with consumers, and to cement customer loyalty. And as mobile tools become more sophisticated, automotive service marketing stands to gain a lot.


Consumers spend an average of four hours per day on their smartphones, and mobile has become the most popular device for searches. Geofencing is a strategic way to hone in on new customers who are searching for “auto shop near me.”

Setting up parameters based on a user’s location (e.g., within five miles of the shop) allows marketers to send targeted display and search ads via mobile that increase the likelihood of an in-store visit.

In a broader sense, geofencing can also be used to target consumers with seasonal messaging. For example, a service shop in Buffalo, New York, could set up targeting based on users within the greater metro area to send deals and creative about snow tires or brake checks when snow or rain is forecast.

The hyper-relevance of this type of messaging lends itself to the ultimate goal of digital marketing: anticipating the needs of consumers and delivering before they have to ask or search.

Predictive and personalized contact

With customers’ more frequent store visits, service departments have far more opportunities to develop personal relationships. Although the opportunities are there, it’s up to marketers to take advantage of them.

Mobile offers convenient ways to personalize messaging and lead a consumer to a desired course of action (i.e., clicking through to a coupon or offer) without requiring multiple steps.

Personalized emails based on past activity and predictive analytics are key for service marketers. Everyone has had the experience of making a purchase of a product or service, only to receive an offer for that very service shortly after.

Not only is this frustrating, it drives a wedge between the dealership and customers, who feel as though the former doesn’t understand their needs.

The lesson to be learned? Pay close attention to a customer’s past activity.

For example, after customers have received an oil change, set up a campaign that sends them a personalized email when it’s time for another. Include a coupon or offer that they can click on and download directly to their mobile device for their next service.

This incentivizes return visits in a customer-conscious way. Most consumers don’t leave home without their smartphones, so a downloadable coupon directly from their email eliminates cross-device steps and the inconvenience of printing.

Marketers can also create campaigns specific to customers who have not taken advantage of certain services, or who are candidates for a particular offer based on vehicle type.

Perpetuate the life cycle

Although the tools used in marketing are changing, the ultimate follow-through still happens when customers walk into the shop. The in-store experience should be cohesive with the personal, intuitive experience they’ve had on their mobile device.

Service department marketers should close the loop of the customer life cycle, and encourage it to begin again with post-purchase messaging. This messaging should highlight the specific nature of the customers’ visit and, if applicable, give them an incentive to return again.

As president of IgnitionOne, Roger Barnette oversees the company’s aggressive growth and technology strategy. He has extensive experience managing and growing emerging technology businesses, and is a veteran of the online marketing industry.

Roger Barnette


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