Vehicle hire is a growth industry with some exciting upward trends on the horizon. It’s estimated that the global passenger vehicle rental market will reach almost $190 billion USD by 2026.
As we lean more towards a sharing economy, it’s becoming apparent that more and more drivers prefer to rent vehicles on a flexible basis rather than committing to owning their own. This is especially true in major urban centres where keeping and parking a vehicle safely and securely can be expensive and logistically challenging.
But wherever there’s opportunity, it stands to reason that competition will follow. Smaller car hire companies need to contend with big multinational brands with huge marketing budgets as well as other savvy local companies vying for the attention of your customers.
Here are some useful ways in which you can promote your brand and build value for the customer in an age where they know they can afford to be fickle...
1. Use content marketing to position yourself as an expert specialist
Trust is an extremely important commodity for any brand, but especially in the automotive industry. It doesn’t take a great feat of memory to recall the debacle that was the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015 and the huge efforts the brand (and the industry in general) needed to undertake to regain the trust of its consumers.
If you can establish yourself as a specialist with greater expert knowledge than your competitors, this can provide you with a greater selling proposition. And when it comes to showcasing your knowledge, expertise and specialism, there’s no greater promotional vehicle than content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the use of regularly published blog posts, videos (vlogs), infographics, tutorials and other useful content which benefits your business in a number of ways. First of all, it gives prospective customers a reason to visit your website and makes your website bigger, encouraging users to move around through it. And this can result in a nice boost to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and give your brand an edge over your competitors in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Perhaps more importantly for the car rental industry, however, content marketing allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and specialism. Use a blog post to showcase your knowledge of particular vehicles that certain devoted customers take a special interest in. Demonstrate how you can help customers to stay protected when renting your vehicles by creating infographics that show how your breakdown cover works. Write posts that directly answer questions that your customers ask you either online or in person to show that they can trust you to cater to their needs.
Your content can go a long way towards establishing your specialism and authority to build value in your brand.
2. Use your platform to gamify deals
We all love a good deal. And in an ever-competitive market, it’s safe to say that many customers expect them. But through your platform, whether it’s your website, your mobile app or both, you can gamify deals and encourage customer loyalty.
For example, you can give email subscribers special limited time offers which decrease in value the longer they drag their feet. Or they can collect points or tokens every time they use your service which helps them work their way to tangible rewards like free extras, free upgrades to more prestige vehicles or even free rentals.
Gamification not only makes it easier for customers to take advantage of great deals, it also adds value by creating a more enjoyable customer experience. This ensures that your loyal customers will be less inclined to see what your competitors have to offer.
3. Use retargeting to ensure that users don’t slip through your fingers
Your analytics show that while your website attracts a healthy amount of traffic, you’re not getting the kinds of conversion rates that you expect to see. Don’t panic, however. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re underperforming. In fact, only 2% of all online traffic converts on the first visit. One effective Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) strategy worth considering is retargeting.
When used in conjunction with traffic driving efforts like content marketing, it can make for a great promotional tool to ensure your brand is not forgotten.
- Use local SEO tactics to leverage “micro-moments”
Almost 50% of all Google searches are from users trying to find local information. Promoting your brand under these circumstances is all about positioning yourself in front of prospects in the intent-rich “micro-moments” where users will instinctively reach for their phones. If they search for “car hire near me”, you’ll want to be one of the top entries on the SERP they see.
This means embracing local SEO strategies like ensuring that your business is listed in all appropriate local directories and keeping your Name, Address and Phone number (NAP data) up to date for all of them. It’s also important to build outbound links with trusted, high authority local sources.
Partnering with car rental price comparison sites is also a great way to get yourself noticed by prospective customers at intent-rich moments. You can even give comparison sites their own special promotional code to ensure that their visitors get a great deal from you. Which brings us to...
5. Use unique single-use promotional codes to incentivise rentals without risk
Promotional code campaigns can be extremely valuable in high-competition fields like car rental. But the problem with many promotional codes is that they can be prone to misuse, increasing your sales but decimating your profit margins.
Investing in the software to create unique single-use promotional codes creates value for the customer while also insulating you from the risks traditionally associated with creating promotional codes. You can even use strategies that will motivate your customers — for example, promo gamification strategies. Codes can also be personalised to bring more value to the individual customer.
You can also take a page from the Uber playbook by giving existing customers their own promo codes to incentivise them to refer their friends, family and colleagues to your service. Both parties get a discount and you get a new customer. Everyone wins!
What’s more, the software that allows you to create these unique single-use codes also has sophisticated analytics tools. These allow you to see which types of promotions resonate with your customers, which customers are getting the most referrals and which price comparison sites are sending the most traffic your way. This can ensure you’re doing everything you can to improve your marketing strategy.
Implement these tips within your car-hire company and you’ll see the number of customers you have and your profits increasing!