10 tips for online marketing of driving schools


1. Get a website and offer online transactions.  If your driving school business doesn’t already have a website, this is priority number one, and if you do have a website the next step is to offer online sale transactions to your customers.  In t[his day and age people expect to be able to find out about your services and to conveniently book online 24/7. 
Research by online payment gateway Paypal has shown Australia’s booming eCommerce market was worth $26.86 billion in 2010.  What’s more, it’s predicted to grow by more than 10% each year to be worth $A36.8 billion in 2011 with 80% of Australia’s online spending predicted to be on local websites.  With more people searching for more products online, it is crucial that your business has a website that allows online transactions. 

2.  Talk to your customers through an e-newsletter.  Many driving school businesses keep a file of their customers records, but never use this information to regularly communicate with them.  There are a range of benefits in developing a regular e-newsletter program, including building brand awareness, driving sales, reducing drop outs and generating word of mouth.  Topics that could be included in a regular monthly e-newsletter include advising current customers of latest products and services, special offers and promotions, driving tips and instructor profiles. There are a range of easy to use e-newsletter systems available with predesigned templates that allow you could use to easily introduce this activity in your business.

3.  Get found with Google Places.  Ever notice the map listings for businesses which come up when you do a Google search?  This is Google Places, a free tool to help customers find your driving school business online.  More than just a list or directory, Google Places lets you add information about what you do as well as images and contact details.  It’s as easy as signing up for a Google account and following the prompts.  You will be asked to enter a valid phone number, Google will call this number which you will need to answer to confirm and verify the listing.     

4. Get out there with Google Adwords.  Next time you do a search in Google, take a look at the text ads that pop up at the top of the page in a shaded box or down the right hand side. These ads are generated through Google’s online advertising program Adwords.  This program allows you to set a daily budget for advertising your driving school and you only pay when people click on your ad.  You can limit your target area by location and advertisers are ranked based on how much they bid for particular keywords such as as ‘driving school’. You can easily setup your own online advertising or can use an Adwords Qualified Professional to give you a hand setting up a campaign.

5.  Help customers search for you with Google webmaster.   It’s in Google’s best interest to display search results for websites that are relevant to people’s search terms.  As a result, they have provided yet another tool to help you develop a website for your driving school business that is search friendly.  And once again it’s completely free!  Jump onto Google Webmaster and sign up for an account to see what you need to improve on your website, you can then work with your website developer to make the necessary changes so your customers find you first time every time.  

6.  Get listed on other websites.  A really easy way to generate traffic to your website and customer enquiries is to get your driving school business listed on relevant websites.  A good first step is to identify all the organisations and businesses you work with or know, and offer them the opportunity to list their business on your website in exchange for a listing on theirs.  This could include your mechanic/service station, road safety bodies, schools and community groups.   

7.  Pay to be found with online listings and advertising.  Some websites feature paid opportunities which you could use to get your driving school business in front of your customers. This includes business directories, news and media sites, local community sites and others.  When assessing an online advertising opportunity, consider the amount of visits the website receives, if it’s relevant to your target market and the advertising format.  This could include banner ads, text listings or e-newsletter inclusions.  Identify the top ten websites in your area, investigate the opportunities and prices, and keep track to see what works best.
8. Become a great read for your customers through article marketing.  An effective way to achieve exposure online is to develop articles that are relevant to your driving school business such as driving tips and road safety. You can then and provide them to relevant websites including online news outlets and add them on your own website.  Articles need to be focussed on useful information and not just a sales pitch.  Make sure your business information and contact details are included with the article and develop relationships with websites that show interested in your articles. 

9.  Don’t forget offline is important for online.  Driving school businesses can sometimes fall into the trap of considering online marketing as a separate area to their other forms of marketing.  It’s important that at every opportunity you let people know where they can find more information about your business.  Be sure to list your website URL on all of your offline material including brochures, letters, registration forms, car signage, ads and anywhere else you can think of.  When you get sick of the sight of your website URL, that’s when your customers are just starting to notice it!

10. Measure your success with Google Analytics.  Google to the rescue again!  Google Analytics is another free tool you can embed on your website to help you track how visitors are finding you, what they’re looking at on your site and how long they spend there.  It’s a great way to measure the impact of all your marketing activities and get insight into the development of your website.  Sign up for a Google Analytics account and follow the prompts.  Note:  All the free Google tools mentioned in this document can be set up under the same account.

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Tony Commisso FCA, BA (Accounting) Tony is a an experienced business adviser and chartered accountant and former a partner with Deloitte. He has operated a successful driving school in Canberra, Australia and through application of his professional skills and passion for excellence has developed a range of specialist skills in the successful operation and growth of driving school businesses. He has co-founded Elpo Technology Pty Ltd a developer of a comprehensive online business solution for driving schools which includes a customer ecommerce interface and leverages modern cloud technology for managing a mobile workforce of driving instructors.

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