Why Dealerships Should Invest in Online Reviews
In the past we’ve discussed online reviews in detail. We’ve talked about anything from why you can’t rely on just the traditional word of mouth, how you can address negative online reviews, or even how to get more online reviews! But let’s discuss why they’re so crucial to your dealership and three places you could potentially focus your efforts as recommended by this recent piece by Total Landscape Care.
With increased accessibility to technology, customers are conducting more and more research prior to engaging with a company in the traditional sense like a phone call or email. A big factor in decision-making can come from reviews as it ideally gives the customer an honest depiction and experience from the customer’s point of view.
Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation according to Bright Local? Additionally, according to Hubworks, online reviews can impact the trust of 74% of potential new customers.
So if you haven’t focused on your online review strategy before, where should your dealership start? The piece by Total Landscape Care recommends that you start with “organic customer recognition,” or in other words, “acquiring business without paying for it.” Many review websites or platforms these days have caught onto the importance of online reputation and are charging businesses in different ways in order to attract more customers. For example, platforms like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack or Angie’s List require businesses to pay per lead or charge some kind of other large fee.
Here are 3 organic platforms you can start with:
Houzz is a review site that’s focused on large-scale home renovation projects. While more targeted, it’s no doubt that homeowners or their contractors need equipment or trucks to complete their project. This platform in particular is very focused around the visual experience for users. This means that your photos need to be of the utmost priority, meaning high quality.
The platform is also one that is extremely focused on obtaining customer reviews. It encourages businesses to ask for reviews, which can be done in a few ways. For example, sending a customer a review link or follow up email after their transaction has been completed. This is a great way to stay connected with him/her and reach him/her when the experience is most fresh in his/her mind. You can also reference it at the end of your time with the customer in-person. Giving him/her a heads up about the survey also helps keep it top of mind for him/her and ready to generate ideas for his/her responses. The unique element of using Houzz is that you can upload your customers’ emails and they’ll reach out on your behalf leaving less work for you.
Google Local is another big asset to your online reputation and its purpose is to assist business owners in increasing their online visibility and help customers find and review businesses in their area. So here’s the criteria Google uses in order to determine which businesses to show:
- The proximity of the business’ location to the searcher location
- The number of reviews the business has
- How well that business’ website ranks in the organic results (Tip: Your website’s SEO is a BIG part of this)
- Local citations – How many times that business’s name, address and phone number appears on the web
A lot of businesses think about Yelp just being for restaurants since they tend to be the most popular type of business researched. However, the platform has expanded to every kind of business and if your competitor hasn’t taken advantage of the site, then being on it could give your dealership a leg up.
When creating your business profile on Yelp, it’s important to know that it cannot be removed. Once your business is on it, it’s on and you should commit to it. This includes being knowledgeable of the keywords customers would search to find your dealership on Yelp and integrating those into your profile as an asset.
Unlike some of the other platforms, Yelp does NOT like you soliciting customer reviews and has actually penalized businesses for it. It prefers a more organic approach with customers taking initiative to leave the review themselves. A good way to encourage customers to leave a review is by mentioning it in person or having a small sign that says something like “Leave us your thoughts!” with a Yelp logo at any area that could be considered a check out location or where a customer would be wrapping up the process with your dealership.
When it comes to online reputation, it’s an element of your dealership’s authority you should be taking seriously. Customers are going to be on review sites whether your business is or not, so don’t do your dealership a disservice by not showcasing itself as a valuable option.
Another thing to keep in mind as you approach the online review process is to focus on building your review numbers on a few platforms not ALL. Start with the ones, like above, that will get you free customers and work your way up from there!