Today, online review sites can have a huge influence on the reputation and success of your car dealership. In fact, 24% of car shoppers consider online review sites to be the “most helpful factor” when making a purchasing decision and choosing which dealership to do business with. According to DealerRater, car shoppers are 90% more likely to visit a dealerships website, 5.3 times more likely to visit a dealership location and three times more likely to become a buyer when a dealership has positive reviews online. In order to make a bigger impact in the marketplace and attract more customers to your dealership, it’s imperative for you to be present on, monitor and manage online review sites.
ONLINE REVIEW SITES CAR BUYERS ARE USING
A Digital Air Strike study revealed that the top five review sites car buyers are using to select a dealership include Cars.com (55%), Edmunds (50%), Google+ Local (40%), Yelp (14%) and Yahoo! Local (11%). As you can see, the total percentage exceeds 100%, which means buyers are checking and comparing multiple review sites before making a decision. Some other online review sites commonly used by car buyers include DealerRater, SureCritic, and Snap21. Your dealership will want to make sure you have a profile on each of these sites with complete, correct and up-to-date information including your dealership name, phone number, address and website.
Apart from gaining market visibility within these sites, your dealership can also improve its search engine optimization (SEO). Because a Google search for a business will populate the results page with related online reviews that Goggle deems “most helpful”, even a small boost in your online review scores have the power to greatly influence how your dealership performs in online searches. For example, a Dealer Marketing client whose online review score rose by only .6 quickly experienced 396% more requests for directions to their dealership, 241% more calls (in a 4-week period) and 100% more clicks to their websites!
TACTICS FOR GETTING MORE RATINGS AND MORE POSITIVE REVIEWS
To protect and improve your dealership’s reputation on online review sites, you’ll need to start generating, monitoring and responding to reviews in a strategic fashion. By focusing on a few basic tactics, you can experience greater success.
1. Communicate, Encourage and Remind Buyers to Leave Online Reviews
To populate your online review pages, you’ll need to promote the fact that your dealership participates on these review sites by communicating it on your social media channels and at your dealership location. You might consider creating business cards with the links to your online review site profiles to help your sales team to encourage reviews from satisfied customers—Google reports that 22% of Internet users post a review or comment online after an automobile purchase. Also, a survey by Cars.com revealed that the majority of dealer reviews were posted on their site during weekdays between 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM—sending a reminder to leave an online review to your consumers through emails blasts around these times can be another way to encourage them to post something.
2. Regularly Monitor and Manage Reviews with Quality Customer Service
At the end of the day, your dealership’s reputation will reflect the type of customer service you deliver, and you need to be aware of what your customers are saying about your dealership online in order to protect that reputation. Consumers will pay attention to positive reviews but they will pay even closer attention to negative reviews as well as how the problem was handled. It’s incredibly important to check your reviews almost daily in order to quickly respond to negative reviews and leverage the opportunity to make a connection and demonstrate quality customer service.
If you can gauge the type of car buyer you’re dealing with on online review sites, you can better know how to respond to their situation. For example, if a customer review is complaining that your dealership prices are too high, they are likely a Bargain Buyer. You can encourage the Bargain Buyer to come back for test drives while promoting the added value of your dealership provides, like an easy approval process, maintenance and vehicle service contracts (VSCs), competitive parts and service offerings and other related products.
3. Never Post or Pay for an Online Review
When it comes to online review sites there is one rule you never want to break: creating a false review. Having employees, associates or anyone directly invested in your dealership post an online review, or paying someone to leave a positive review is not only frowned upon, it’s illegal! The Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits writing fake online reviews and doing so can be a death sentence to your dealership’s reputation in the online review space. Many online review sites have policies in place to protect against this kind of activity, are proactive about monitoring reviews for legitimacy and have strict consequences for anyone who breaks the rules, including a violation notice posted on your profile for all consumers to see.
Online review sites are a great tool that can be utilized to increase your dealerships’ success. However, reviews need to be regularly monitored, quickly addressed and never falsely created in order to help your dealership maintain a positive reputation and bait more buyers.