Is your dealership the prom king or class clown?
Just like your high school, crawling up the internet’s ladder is a popularity contest, and the dealer with the most votes wields the crown and scepter come prom night. If you’re like me, whose middle name might as well have been “Supremely Unpopular Nerdo” in school, you probably read that sentence and hit upon a vein of teenage-propelled PTSD. (Weren’t we told that no one cares about popularity after college? Those liars.)
The fortunate news is that dealers can overcome this new-age digital popularity contest far easier than 18-year-old me could go from yearbook outcast to classroom royalty. A diverse array of good dealership ratings across the most relevant sites is a good start, but there are a few review platforms that may be more worth your while. Here’s our list of the most important dealership review sites to focus on in 2018.
1) Google Reviews
The head honcho. The big enchilada. The top dog, VIP, grand poobah. That’s Google when it comes to review platforms—or just about any digital platform, it seems.
“That’s some big talk. But how important are Google reviews, really?”
If you’ve had a tough go of making the top of the “first page,” we don’t blame you. More than 3.5 billion people hit the Google SERP stream per day—that accounts for over 75% of search engine traffic across desktops and mobile devices—and organic rankings are noticeably taking a backseat to the various Google-owned SERP properties, such as paid ads, Google Maps, knowledge graphs, image carousels, YouTube videos, Google products, and the almighty local pack. Online visibility in all categories may be at an all-time high, but so too is your competition.
Aside from location, one key driving force for SERP placement, whether that’s in the local pack or organically, appears to be a dealer’s reviews. More than 87% of car buyers choose their dealership based on online reviews, and that number is trending upward. Therefore, every Google review you sport, from the 5-star rating provided by your mother to the lone star awarded by the disgruntled customer who didn’t like the way your showroom smelled, makes a difference in the greater scheme of things.
You should certainly reply to reviews, good or bad—3 out of 10 shoppers make note of a business’s response to reviews—but preventative care is a better tactic. That is: Shoot for the good star ratings straight away rather than pacifying the dissatisfied customer after the fact. (Easier said than done, I know.)
If you need some help accommodating shoppers at your dealership, ask us about our various dealer solutions, including our CRM Coach and Customer Engagement Analysis product. A well-trained staff can do wonders for your online reviews and reputation.
2) Yelp Reviews
Amongst the numerous valuable review sites out there is Yelp, which online consumers rated the most trusted alongside Facebook.
Across desktop and mobile devices, Yelp reels in over 170 million unique visitors each month, about 90% of which are from the U.S. All those visitors account for 150 million reviews, with approximately 8 million going toward auto dealers, give or take a million. (For the sake of comparison, Google My Business sees 158 million clicks each month, but only about 100 million originate from America.)
To us, Yelp makes it high on our list for five major reasons:
- Yelp clearly highlights the importance of reputation management for car dealers on their platform, ultimately training dealerships to focus on maintaining their brand’s image across the entire digital marketplace. A no-response to bad Yelp reviews is akin to being Plaxico Burress in an NYC nightclub circa 2008.
- The typical Yelper persona, while somewhat fanatical in their approach to shopping, is more likely to be a target of auto dealerships. On average, 70% of Yelpers make an annual income over $60,000, 80% are college graduates, 60% are over the age of 35, and the majority have sired no children, thus allowing them to spend disposable income on a new car.
- According to a 2017 survey, 92% of consumers make a purchase or transform into a lead after reading a quality Yelp review, oftentimes within a week of their search. This translates to an increase in qualified lead generation for all industries and businesses, from local pet stores to car dealers.
- Yelp reviews are displayed prominently on other mid-level search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing. Although Yahoo and Bing have their own review features, their user base is small; Yelp can act as connective tissue between the big kahuna (Google, if you didn’t guess) and alternative search engines.
- Organic results and Yelp go hand in hand, with about 97% of all Yelp “car dealer” searches being unbranded. A hearty SEO plan and proper Yelp property tags can lead to prominent page placement for those unbranded dealership keywords we all know and love.
Plus, you’ll see a few hilarious Yelp reviews every now and again:
Tread carefully through your Yelp strategy, however, as the platform’s algorithm filters out potentially “solicited” reviews in favor of reviews left by verified Yelpers. Quantity is equivalent to quality on your Yelp profile.
**A future post re: Yelp ratings is to come. We’ll update this section with a link once it’s available.**
3) Facebook Reviews
The direct approach to dealer-customer communication starts with a phone call or email, but Facebook is a supplemental resource to engage with fans and potential car shoppers online. The sheer size of Facebook’s audience, as well as its personal nature, make it the most likely place to harvest customers via “word of mouth.” Even if you haven’t been set up to monitor social media mentions, people on Facebook are probably talking about your dealership with friends, family, and complete strangers.
Facebook’s popularity amongst businesses comes from the fact that it’s so damn easy for users to leave reviews. Since most people already have Facebook—nearly 2 billion accounts worldwide—writing a review of your dealership only takes them a few seconds and over even fewer hurdles. There’s no account to make, no password to memorize, no activation email to check—it’s just you, them, and a keyboard with a worn-out exclamation mark key.
A series of good Facebook reviews shows possible customers that you’re in the market to build relationships, not just sell a car or two. Having a Facebook marketplace for your vehicles is a bonus, making it simple for shoppers to move from reading your reviews to buying a vehicle.
4) BBB Reviews
The main attraction to using BBB is that it’s built on the ideal of “trust.” Customers view BBB as a middleman that protects them from fraud, scams, and immoral practices. The classic “A to F” rating system is familiar to most everyone in America, so there’s also no learning curve when evaluating companies or dealerships.
Although BBB sees just under 7 million visits per month, we recommend that dealers tie up any loose ends by populating their business profile page with valuable details, replying to complaints, and paying a small fee to become BBB accredited. Should you have a lackluster BBB grade, improving that grade to an “A” might do you well.
5) Third-party Automotive Site Reviews
Review sites like Cars.com, Edmunds.com, and KBB.com are other common places where shoppers search for the best dealerships in their area. Many car buyers trust these reviews over other sites, such as BBB, though these third-party sites aren’t as highly regarded in terms of organic placement.
Still, a below-average dealership rating (under 3 stars) on any of these sites isn’t exactly aesthetically appealing—especially if you have low-star reviews on several sites. If that’s the case, putting some effort into acquiring new and good testimonials from customers can give your struggling ratings a needed bump. As always, also reach out and reply to unsatisfied customers, either publicly or privately.
When a user searches Google for branded dealership reviews, organic results typically consist of the normal aforementioned players like Yelp, BBB, Edmunds, et cetera. However, there’s one niche review site just for car dealers that sneaks into the SERP, oftentimes within the top 3 positions: DealerRater.
DealerRater.com, a website that just handles customer reviews of auto dealerships and auto service centers, has been gaining traction in the industry for a handful of years. Dealership properties are populated in their database either automatically or when customers add them, and dealers can claim the dealership just as they can through Google. Dealers can also opt to sign up for DealerRater products, which include online reputation management, promotion building, review syndication, and customized reporting.
With the saturated digital market being, well, saturated, users are increasingly relying on dealership ratings to inform their decision of where to shop for cars. As DealerRater also continues to increase in popularity within organic local results, we believe it’s only a matter of time before dealerships begin utilizing it. Jump on board early and start acquiring more DealerRater reviews than your competitors.
7) Indeed/Glassdoor Reviews
Customer testimonials aren’t the only reviews that matter. If your former employees have an ax to grind with your dealership, they may leave not-so-poignant words on your Indeed or Glassdoor profile, ultimately damaging your dealership’s reputation and limiting your future pool of hirable candidates, at the very least.
To stack the deck in your favor, have your best employees refute any of those claims and leave their own positive review of your dealership. It’s a super-good place to work! I like the selection of snacks in the vending machine, and the coffee always tastes like coffee. Even a handful of playful and short dealership ratings can offset one negative ex-employee review.
Managing your reputation takes a great deal of effort. But the key is patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your negative image won’t magically revive itself overnight. Stay the course, climb rung by rung up the ladder, and utilize your dealership’s CRM to send emails requesting reviews from customers. You may be surprised to know that happy consumers will leave a solicited review nearly 70% of the time.
Need guidance? Bring your inquiries to Opportunity Max, where answers are our bread and butter. We have services to help you alleviate stresses with your CRM, develop digital promotions that incite higher eblast engagement rates, and a bevy of additional digital marketing offerings laid out on the proverbial dining table. Just fling us an email to get started.
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