More and more businesses — auto repair shops included — are trying to crack the code of how to market to millennials.

You’ve probably heard countless times that the way to a millennial’s heart is through their phone. While that’s true to a large degree, focusing solely on millennials’ digital habits fails to account for the fact that many still watch television, listen to the radio, and embrace other traditional forms of media.

If you’re targeting younger customers, the best strategy is an integrated approach that blends the latest digital trends with more conventional marketing techniques. That’s why we recommend using a mix of direct mail and digital platforms to reach millennials. Both forms of advertising can be tracked, which is key in determining which efforts are generating results.

The goal is to maximize your impressions and increase your brand awareness in the channels where millennials are most likely to see your messages. With that in mind, here’s a look at some auto repair marketing strategies to consider if you’re hoping to expand your millennial customer base.

Using postcards to build trust

You might be skeptical about using direct mail to reach an audience that seems to be constantly “plugged in.”

But the truth is, millennials view mail as a novelty, and actually spend more time reading the material that ends up in their physical mailbox vs. their email inbox — the direct marketing firm U.S. Presort found that 84% of millennials look through their mail on a regular basis. That’s the very definition of a captive audience, so capitalize on that habit by developing direct mail pieces that help you build trust with younger audiences.

The first step is to ensure that everything on your postcards matches the look and feel of your website and your physical store. Consistency breeds comfort, and lets potential millennial customers know what to expect when they visit. It also helps create clear distinctions between your shop and competitors.

Featuring testimonials on your postcards is another great way to boost your credibility and help form connections with prospective customers — research has shown that millennials rely on user reviews more heavily than their baby boomer and Gen X counterparts when making purchasing decisions.

Finally, consider featuring an offer that provides potential customers with a risk-free way to try your shop, such as a free inspection or tire rotation.

Advertising that appeals to millennials: personalized promotions

Millennials value connections — they want to do business with retailers who know them and understand their needs. Especially when it comes to younger customers, customized offers yield better leads than the mass market approach that most shop owners typically associate with direct mail campaigns.

Using past purchasing history can help you customize offers and build long-term relationships. For example, maybe a customer had their tires rotated the previous summer to prepare for a road trip. Sending a discount for a tire rotation six months later or the following summer will show that you know their vehicle and understand their needs.

Likewise, you can use postcards to remind millennials when they’re due for a maintenance appointment, and direct them to personalized landing pages that feature discounts specifically tailored to their vehicles.

Mobile geotargeting

When it comes to digital marketing for auto repair shops, technology is rapidly evolving to help us reinforce the messages our clients are sending through the mail. One effective way to do so is with mobile geotargeting.

Utilizing location services on smartphones, marketers are able to track users around a business and analyze their patterns and behaviors. Shop owners can combine that information with offline data, such as home addresses, and send mobile ads specifically to millennials within a certain geographic region. They can also “geofence” around the area surrounding their shops, so that when a target visits a nearby competitor in that zone, for example, they’ll receive a mobile ad.

Auto Repair Relating To Millennials

Who hangs out in the area around your shop? Geotargeting can help you reach that audience.

Pairing mobile geotargeting with direct mail can be a particularly powerful strategy. For example, when UpSwell worked with Merlin’s auto shops, we used a combination of postcards and geofenced mobile ads to drive 250+ new customers within a 2-mile radius of each location. Read the case study.

Paid social ads

The days of posting occasionally on your Facebook page with the hope of generating traffic organically are long gone. Today, social media is a pay-to-play game, and the more targeted you can make your ads, the better.

There’s so much competition for ad space on social media that attempting to reach every person in a certain area would be extremely expensive, and probably wouldn’t produce strong results. When it comes to millennials, crafting ads around a certain event or targeted to a subset within their demographic is a better bet.

For instance, your shop might be hosting a ‘“Ladies’ Day” to provide car repair education to female consumers. Establishing an ad based on that event and focusing it on women within a particular age range who live closest to your shop would be a wise way to allocate your social media budget for that campaign.

Your social campaigns could also include partnerships with social media influencers who can serve as advocates for your brand. When millennials see someone their age validating a company, their comfort level with that business rises. Just be sure to team with influencers who represent your area of interest and have a large and engaged fan base.

Digital marketing to millennials requires more than one platform

Here’s an important point that many businesses miss: Don’t limit your ad buys to Facebook! While a majority of U.S. adults use Facebook, there are other social media platforms that are also popular with a millennial audience.

Remember, in 2020, millennials are between the ages of 26 and 40. With that in mind, here are some stats about the demographics of popular social media platforms, according to Sprout Social:

Of people between the ages of 25 and 30…

  • 57% use Instagram
  • 44% use LinkedIn
  • 31% use Twitter

Of people between the ages of 30 and 49…

  • 47% use Instagram
  • 37% use LinkedIn
  • 26% use Twitter

Those combined age ranges cover the entirety of the millennial generation, which means if you’re not leveraging Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers.


Connecting to millennial consumers requires a multi-channel approach, and your direct mail and digital campaigns should complement each other. Using direct mail to forge relationships with new leads — and supplementing those efforts with the latest digital marketing tools — is a good way to get the most bang for your buck.

UpSwell has extensive experience creating direct mail and digital marketing campaigns for auto repair shops. Let us help you grow your customer base — contact us today!

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