May 12, 2016
Case Study

Inbound Marketing: Relevant social media content increases referral traffic by 220%

SUMMARY: People are increasingly turning to the web for information on repairs and maintenance to extend the life of their vehicles.

In order to reach car owners where they are, Jiffy Lube shifted focus from more traditional media campaigns, and launched a content marketing initiative spanning Facebook, Twitter, email and the company's blog to help car owners extend the life of their vehicles.
by Courtney Eckerle, Senior Manager of Editorial Content

Steve Sanner, President, Jiffy Lube of Indiana, and his partner started the business more than 31 years ago on the principle of growing people through work.

"The founder of Jiffy Lube International, that was one of his guiding principles. And we were just attracted to it. … It's a chance to take people who've bounced around from job to job maybe, or maybe it's their first job, and give them an opportunity to grow through work," he said.

Because of that philosophy, he said, there are a lot of programs done internally, but, "we never really tried to promote them outside the company until recently."

The world has changed, Sanner said, "to where my kids now like to shop with people who they consider to be good members of the community. That's something we've always valued ourselves in being, but never really viewed it as a marketing opportunity until the last few years."


Sanner thought it might be time to brag a little bit and to help customers understand that the same thing that attracted Sanner and his partner to Jiffy Lube should attract them as well.

"We're in the repeat-business business, so that's something we preach to our guys all the time, that we go out of business if people only come once. So we need to do everything possible to get our guests to come back over and over and over," he said.

Those customers are adults ages 25 to 54, with household incomes over $40,000, but "on a broad level, it's anybody with a car and a little bit of a disposable income," he said.


"I've always handled our marketing, and I was the chairman of the national Jiffy Lube marketing committee for many years. I still serve on the committee now, so I've been involved both at the national level and obviously at the local level," Sanner said.

Sanner usually ends up writing most radio spots, and voices them as well, along with his family members. But as he and his team have bought radio and TV ads over the years, the value has diminished as customer's attention spans diminish.

"I just don't think that traditional media has been working. I know it hasn't been working nearly the way it used to," he said.

Needing greater engagement with customers outside of traditional media is what led Sanner to social media and digital efforts.

"We're trying to reach out to people and talk to them about our company and what we can do to make their life a little easier, but we need to find out where they are. We don't want to annoy them, but we want to remain relevant and remain top of mind when they need our service," he said.


Sanner and his team began working on the social media and content efforts in May of last year. Jiffy Lube launched a content marketing initiative spanning Facebook, Twitter, email and the company's blog in order to help car owners access information on how to extend the life of their vehicles.

Step #1. Understand the employee time commitment

"Like so many small businesses, medium-sized business, you start off trying to figure it out for yourself," Sanner said.

Sanner tasked the director of guest services in his office with starting a Facebook page and signing Jiffy Lube Indiana up for Twitter.

"But she had other job duties and it was difficult for her. … She would go on a great run for a week. We'd have new postings, we'd have new engagement, she'd be able to focus on it, and then her other job duties would get in the way and this would go on the back burner," he said.

When his team could focus on it, it showed positive growth, but with other work taking precedent, posting and content updates were inconsistent.

"We have nine people in our corporate office. We're doing $40 million in sales. We're busy," he said.

Sanner decided to enlist an agency, with the idea that they would be able to dedicate the necessary time to it.

"What I've seen over the past year is that consistency matters. You can't just do this when you find the day to do it. You've got to stay on top of it every day, and you've got to remain relevant. And you've got to be paying attention," he said.

When speaking with the person on the account, Sanner happened to mention some of the programs Jiffy Lube has for employees.

"I really hadn't thought about [those programs] as an external thing. … She said, ‘Hey, you know, that's the kind of stuff people will pay attention to. That's the kind of stuff people would like to read, to get to know their Jiffy Lube guy a little better,'" he said.

Step #2. Use transparency in content to build trust

This effort began with Twitter and Facebook specifically, focusing on regional areas with locations that had some kind of unique service offering. The team wanted to speak to communities in a very pointed way.

Employee programs, and employee stories, became a hidden content gem that wasn't being utilized. Partially because employees who were highlighted would have their friends and families sharing the content and engaging as well.

The team realized that trust was extremely important to customers, and focusing on what was going on behind the scenes at Jiffy Lube could be a pivotal building block of that trust.

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In the Jiffy Lube blog, the content focuses on turning employees and customers into heroes. There is a "Loyal Jiffy Lube Guest" feature, as well as video content that focuses on store managers and other employees.

At an annual banquet honoring store managers, the son of Lonnie Hinkle, Chief Operating Officer, Jiffy Lube Indiana, who is in school for video production, set up a place to interview every manager on video about their story and experience with the company.

"We didn't give them a script. It's off the cuff. Some of them are great, [and] some of them really kind of struggle with it, but it's real," Sanner said.

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That is one of the efforts they've made to expand content, he said, and even though it was low cost, it has real value to customers.

"Whenever we have a need, we have a whole bunch of those little two- to four-minute videos featuring our managers talking about everything from the funniest thing that ever happened to Jiffy Lube to what they want to do in their careers, to where they came from before this, to what does it mean to provide great service," he said.

Sanner said his wife watched six of the videos "with tears in her eyes. … Video is powerful," he said, adding that it is an important tool in building a relationship with followers.

Step #3. Ensure every touchpoint is relevant

Jiffy Lube Indiana has about 60,000 names in its email database, so "we always had the ability to do blast emails," Sanner said, and occasionally, they would. Although corporate was sending, his team was really only emailing patrons once or twice a year.

He realized they needed to be sending more often than that, but was worried about becoming a nuisance to subscribers.

"I don't want to bother people. I don't want them to unsubscribe. I want to keep them in the tent," he said.

Sanner realized that people would be interested in his possibly more relevant content, and increased sends to around every six weeks. He still wanted to make sure he wasn't over sending considering Jiffy Lube only sees a customer two or three times a year.

Relevant email content sent out only when there is a specific deal, coupon code or event is a useful tool alongside a less intrusive weekly social media post, he said.

"We only get you a couple times a year. So we need to be relevant, we need to be top of mind, we need you to have a good feeling about us. We need you to know that there's a coupon if you care about coupons, and that it's easily accessible so you don't have to go looking for other people's coupons. But we don't want to be annoying," he said.

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That relevant content, Sanner added, is usually seasonal. For instance, a blog post titled, "April Showers Bring New Tires," or a "buy one, get one" offering on new wiper blades. Facebook posts even tap into weekly weather reports to encourage drivers to keep wiper blades top of mind.

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Sanner's favorite piece of relevant content was a Jiffy Lube Indiana tweet about a local artist's exhibit.

"The artist retweeted our tweet, saying he's finally arrived as an artist because Jiffy Lube is promoting his art exhibit. And we had like, four people come into the store in Broad Ripple because they saw his retweet and thought it was so funny," he said.

That instance solidified for Sanner why he was embarking on this effort with social media, even though it was outside of the usual media or marketing efforts.

"I thought, ‘You know what? We tweeted about an art exhibit. It has absolutely nothing to do with oil changes. But we just got four new guests into Jiffy Lube because they like the artist.' Never would have thought of that before," he said.

Step #4. Handle complaints quickly

An important part of social media in the service industry is to assist with customer retention.

If someone tweets something negative about Jiffy Lube, Sanner said, the team responds very quickly, because "we're in the repeat-business business, we can't allow anybody to say anything bad about us without responding."

View the Creative Sample

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Every Monday, the team meets to assess what has been said on social media, and "make sure everything's still good in terms of anything our guests may be saying about us out there," he said.

They also plan out what social media and content will be going out over the next week, and even the next month.

If something negative has been said about Jiffy Lube, the team talks about it and decides what the best response will be.

Sanner gave an example of a negative tweet about a store experience, where he tweeted back to the person – his first ever tweet — giving the customer his cell phone number and asking them to call so he could rectify it himself.

"We got it all worked out and it was fine," he said, adding that generally either he, the director of guest services or a district manager will respond.

"We take those things very seriously. And I will tell you that some of our most loyal guests are people who have had an issue at some point and watched how we fixed it, how passionate we were, how much we cared, and how much we followed up," he said.

Sanner added that he doesn't even view the complaints as negative anymore.

"We have a lot of pride in handling complaints in order to turn those people into long-time, loyal guests," he said. "The scariest complaints are the ones you never hear."


"We're viewing our ad plan now [as] not just, ‘What do we get for the money we're spending,'" Sanner said, but as, "How can we blow this up into social?"

From these social media, email and content efforts, Jiffy Lube Indiana helped increase referral traffic by 220%.

One way he and his team will be doing that this year is by working with local artists, who are going to be painting murals on the side of Jiffy Lube Indiana buildings.

"This group of artists will come together and design different art for each store that speaks … [not] about Jiffy Lube, [but] about the community," he said.

The artists will just be doing a stencil of the artwork, Stanner added, and then the community and customers will get involved by painting it in.

"It's a place you only go to a couple times a year, so a typical person doesn't have a great connection with their local Jiffy Lube. So the idea of putting some public art on the side of the building that faces the road appealed to me from just an attention-getting standpoint," he said.

But once they began talking about the social media side of it, including blogs, social media tweets and posts that will come out of it, including video content, he saw how far this effort could reach.

"It's a great example of things that we probably wouldn't have done had it not been for getting the wheels turning about how this could blow up in social," Sanner said.

Creative Samples

  1. Customer blog post

  2. Employee feature

  3. Seasonal blog post

  4. Seasonal Facebook post

  5. Facebook comment response


Jiffy Lube Indiana

Torchlite – Jiffy Lube Indiana's digital marketing vendor

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