Power to the People: Your Online Reputation Relies More and More on Reviews
A decade in any business will teach you a thing or two about benefits, pitfalls and performance. Friendemic has spent 10 years helping automotive dealerships leverage online reviews to paint a picture of their businesses for online shoppers, manage their reputations and create social proof that their dealership is worthy of the consumer’s trust.
Along the way, we’ve learned best practices for review and reputation management. We’ve discovered how much responses to reviews matter to customers and how we can use online reviews to promote dealerships. We’ve also learned that online reviews provide a gold mine of quality information about how to improve customer experiences. These best practices form a solid foundation for a reputation management program that is proven to help auto dealers generate more calls, direction requests and website visits.
The tips and techniques we’ve learned over the years are included in a new best practices online review guide we recently published. If you’re in a hurry, you can just jump to the end of this blog and download the guide now, or if you’d rather have a quick sample before you go for the full guide, read on!
Online Review Platforms–Where You Need to Be; What You Need to Know
You’ll want to have reviews on all the most popular automotive review sites of course, but Google My Business is a marketing tool you simply can’t do without.
In June, 2021 Google was handling over 60% of all core search queries in the U.S.(Statista.) That’s an interesting fact, but nothing says “Google dominates search” like this Stat Counter chart.
Narrowing to automotive, according to Think with Google, over 9 in 10 vehicle buyers use digital to inform their search. Not only that, search is the most commonly used source in the car-buying process, even including referrals and dealer visits. When shoppers get ready to buy a car (or look for parts and service), there’s a high probability they are getting information via Google search, so you should be there ready and waiting to answer their questions across multiple platforms.
Google My Business, Google’s solution for giving consumers the picks of businesses that most likely match their search, provides auto dealerships with up to 3 listings (think sales, service and parts). Each one of those can be optimized for local search, following a Friendemic tried and tested formula (including reviews, key listing features such as photos, Q&A and more) for generating more website traffic, more direction requests and more calls.
Auto dealers using Friendemic’s Reputation Accelerator have seen significant increases in those same key performance indicators (KPIs) after implementing Friendemic’s solutions for proactively managing their online reputation.
Reviews Are a Trusted Source of Information
People trust other buyer’s reviews, more than just about any other source. In fact, over 92% of shoppers surveyed in the Heinz Marketing report, “The Impact of Reviews on Buyers and Sellers,” said they are more likely to buy a product after reading a trusted review. Search engines give online reviews added weight too. For instance, Google considers online reviews as a critical part of their mix to determine rankings–industry expert SEO Moz estimates they account for at least 10% of the overall algorithm. Given all that goodness, we don’t recommend a passive approach to getting reviews.
Using Friendemic’s Reputation Accelerator, you can politely–and proactively–ask customers for reviews, either during the last part of the sale in real-time, or through an automated invitation using integrated DMS data. Either way, those additional reviews are a powerful tool for improving search results and driving more conversions.
Another benefit of asking for reviews is uncovering the not-so-good experience and being able to address it before it turns into a bad review, or a lost sale. It’s human nature…we are more likely to share a bad experience versus a good one and a study–the State of Customer Service– from Dimensional Research proves it. While 95% of consumers reported they are likely to share a bad experience with their family and friends, only 87% said they would share a good experience. Worse yet, half of those respondents said they would share a bad experience on social networks and 52% said they would share a bad experience in an online review.
Even the best teams have a miss every now and again. If you are consistently asking customers for feedback, you will hear about more and be able to quickly address problems. Whether that customer ends up leaving an online review or not, your business will get better as a result.
You’ll also want to add Facebook and other social channels to your online review sources. Friendemic is the only Reputation Management platform that is designed for the automotive industry and has developed deep expertise in recommendations for content and review responses that work across all those popular auto review sites and the top three social channels.
Do Respond to All Reviews; Don’t Ignore the Negative Ones
There’s no big secret here–quickly responding to a negative review is the right thing to do. It will also help you show that you care about your customers’ experience and you are looking for ways to continually improve your dealership. There’s a dual benefit to a helpful response as well–not only will the customer who left the review feel as if they are being heard, but other people will see that you are responsive to your customers and want to help them have a great experience with your dealership.
Of course, we recommend that you respond to positive feedback too. Just thanking someone for their time is a solid way to let them know you appreciate them. All this responding can get time-consuming for you though, so consider having a professional reputation management company like Friendemic take care of review responses for you. It will save you significant time, while also making sure all customer reviews are responded to quickly and effectively.
These and many other best practices are included in the online guide. Bottom line, take advantage of Friendemic’s experience in automotive reputation management. It’s increasingly becoming a part of the marketing mix you must address and for the money, it can be one of your best marketing investments.
As a matter of fact, many OEMs provide programs that allow you to use marketing/co-op funds for some or all of the cost of solutions to help you automate reputation management processes and maximize your time, so be sure and review your options!