44% said that reviews were the most influential factor when determining where to buy a vehicle
Why are you allowing your competitors to dominate you online?
It’s D-Day and competitors are invading your digital beachfront. They’ve spent thousands of dollars preparing to storm your fortifications, but instead they find that you’ve set up a beer tent from which you’re pouring customers straight into their sales funnel. Sound ridiculous? Well it’s no more ridiculous than the lacklustre effort that most dealers put into managing their Google reviews. Google reviews are your digital beachfront as they usually appear near the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This is the page that people land on after typing in some configuration of your dealerships name or brand. If you’ve done nothing to manage and defend your online reputation, competitors who have will crush you.
Peer Review and User Generated Content (UGC)
A 2014 Brightlogical study found that 79% of people trust online reviews as much as referrals from friends and family members. . That number jumps to 51% for Millennials, who represent over 40% of your market.
Paid reviews versus Google Reviews
While paid review sites may be beneficial, Google Reviews are more influential because they’re trusted and always outrank paid sites. Plus Google reviews are free! So why do dealers pay big bucks for paid reviews when they can get Google reviews for free? Perhaps they don’t know the value of Google reviews or they don’t know how to get them, either way it’s a bloodbath for their dealerships.
Customers Are Making Decisions Online
In 2015 AutoTrader.com reported that 72% of recent car buyers purchased the vehicle they had in mind before they visited a dealership. This is a significant increase from the 66% who reported doing so in 2014. This means the number of people deciding what to buy before visiting a dealership is increasing dramatically. This represents a tremendous opportunity for dealerships that have branded themselves as an excellent place to buy!
Trust, Transparency and Time
Consumers are looking for three things when determining where to buy: Trust, Transparency and a respect for their Time. Google reviews are most effective ways to build trust, offer transparency and save time because they provide insight into the experience buyers can expect before they visit a dealership. In order to deliver these factors online you must solicit positive Google reviews and manage bad ones.
Online Reputation Management: Ask and Yee Shall Receive
The best way to get positive Google Reviews is to simply “ask” for them. Tell your customers that you’re trying to build an excellent online reputation, so you need them to share their experience in a couple of paragraphs on Google. Tell them that short reviews like “Great experience” or “That was easy!” are good, but a brief story is much more engaging and it would mean the world to you if they would write one. This is a simple technique called cognitive dissonance, when properly employed your customers desire to help you will overcome their lack of desire to write a review.
Solve Problems Before They Begin
Asking for Google Reviews is also a great way to uncover and rectify problems that your customers may have. This will give you an opportunity to make sure they are completely satisfied before they write a review or receive their CSI questionnaire.
Manage your reviews by reading and responding to all of them, good, bad or ugly! Google Reviews can be viewed by thousands of people, so when responding to them, think not only of the person that wrote the review, but also about the people that will read them to determine if they should buy from you.
You can’t please everybody, so you will get bad reviews. The good news is that a bad review can be as beneficial as several good reviews, provided you address it with a positive, proactive response. Nobody expects perfection, so if you drop the ball and get a bad review, reach out with a sincere apology and an offer to make things right. Never beat on your chest by saying how many awards you’ve won or how difficult the reviewer was to please, as this will sound arrogant to those reading your reviews.
Responding to your reviews will show online shoppers that you’re engaged with your customers after the sale. If it’s a good review and you respond, they’ll know you appreciated their review and if it’s bad, you’re eager to fix the problem.
Building a Google Review Culture in your Dealership
- Have your managers discuss every review in every sales meeting.
- Post reviews in your lunchroom, boardroom, service department and offices.
- Email reviews to everyone on staff and run a best review of the week contest to incentivize sales and service to solicit reviews.
- Share your Google Reviews on in-store displays, social media, conventional advertising and on your website to maximize their benefits.
Now Deliver the Experience You Promised
Today virtually every dealerships website is promising an extraordinary level of customer service and this makes it easier than ever to over promise and under deliver. The end result is that the slightest infraction could disappoint a buyer and lead to a bad review. So it’s very important to deliver the in-store experience that your website and Google reviews promised.
If you want your digital beachfront to be impregnable, make Google Reviews a key part of your marketing strategy and make sure that every member of your team does so too.
Jim De Luca
Digital Road to a Sale Inc.
905 865 8734