Over the past several years, we have seen traditional marketing methods decline in effectiveness and increase the cost of acquiring new customers. In the past we were able to send out a direct mail piece or run an ad in the Yellow Pages and customers would come calling. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.
Because of this trend, Maid Brigade has made the shift toward using technology-based marketing to reach prospects in the market for maid service. Most notably, we use SEO and SEM to drive customers to our website to request service. As competition increases--from other national companies, as well as from local companies--it is crucial that we remain top of mind by maintaining a strong presence in both the paid and organic areas of the search engines.
We have also run both site and search retargeting campaigns to target consumers who are searching online for maid service or who have visited our website. Once a customer is on our site, we use live chat to communicate with prospects and drive them through the conversion funnel. In addition, we have experimented with a variety of online lead aggregators and online service directories. These technology-driven companies match prospects looking for service with companies able to meet their needs.
Regarding social media, we have recently started using a software platform that allows our franchisees to more efficiently and effectively manage their local social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. We want our franchisees to be able to connect and engage with their local audiences, and this tool allows them to do that. Maid Brigade has also developed customer relationship management software designed to facilitate communication with prospects during the purchasing cycle. The software automates many functions that contribute to booking prospects, which increases booking percentages and helps lower the cost of acquisition.
While we still believe strongly that a multimedia marketing mix is important, more and more we are relying on technology and the Internet to market effectively and efficiently to our potential customers.
Valvoline Instant Oil Change relies on two principles in developing our marketing programs: 1) leverage our extensive customer database to gain insights and target our activities; and 2) can we clearly measure the impact so we are confident that we are delivering long-term value to the business?
The reality is that we operate a business that handles a chore consumers have to do, but don't want to do (a lot like the dentist, my apologies to the dental profession). As such, there is a very limited window when a consumer will be in the market for an oil change. While this makes acquisition challenging, it remains the lifeblood of a thriving business. The good news is that consumer adoption of technology is opening a myriad of better ways to reach new consumers when they're due for that oil change.
Not surprisingly, we have found search (organic and paid) to be the best starting point to leverage the impact of technology on consumer behavior. However, doing this well is much more complicated than buying an ad in the old paper Yellow Pages. Leveraging indicators that a consumer is a new customer allows us to be more aggressive in our offer strategy to drive trial among consumers who don't know us.
We're also taking advantage of technology to customize what a consumer sees when they click on the ad and reach our landing pages based on what we know about them, ensuring that the content is more relevant. We have seen both of these drive increases in effectiveness and new customers.
We also are expending a lot of energy to ensure our stores appear in the organic search results. Not only does this drive its own additional store traffic, it makes our paid search efforts more effective.
Another opportunity is leveraging the first- and third-party data that is available and the related programs that use this data in real time. We have found sources that help us not only find consumers who have not been to our locations, but also at the time they are probably due for an oil change. This enables us to reduce waste in the communication and offer distribution, and ensure that we are not subsidizing existing users with trial-level offers.
Finally, we are only now beginning to explore the potential of mobile. Given the changing behavior of younger consumers, we believe this will eventually be the primary method of reaching our consumers in the years ahead.
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