Research from DMA shows that 68 percent of those surveyed in the study rely on automotive reviews for their purchase decisions. This is because reviews are valuable social proof. Instead of looking at marketing materials, consumers prefer to read the accounts of past customers in order to get a more genuine picture of the car buying experience.
Those reviews, then, are the backbone of any automotive brand’s online reputation. A high rating and plenty of positive reviews will make any dealer attractive while the opposite can drive people away. Before you change your customer review strategy, read up on the state of automotive reviews today in addition to the best practices for acquiring and responding to valuable customer feedback.
The Current State of Automotive Reviews
A 2018 ReviewTrackers survey revealed that 67 percent of consumers believe auto repair reviews to have the most influential reviews out of multiple industries including healthcare, insurance, banking, and restaurants. Auto dealer reviews aren’t far behind with the third-most influential reviews.
However, the survey also showed that automotive industry’s average star rating as a whole is 4.21, which puts it as only the eighth-highest rated industry. To rise up the rankings, the industry needs more rave reviews from customers, and that starts at the dealership level.
The Best Automotive Review Sites for Dealers
Having a personal website for your dealership is bound to bring in some customers, but an overwhelming 80 percent visit a third-party site to get more information about a vehicle. Adding your dealership listing and showcasing your inventory on some of the top automotive review sites listed below ensures that you effectively reach as many customers as possible.
Getting listed on these sites also ensures that you have a better foothold on your brand reputation. You can keep a closer eye on customer feedback and respond to reviews in an effective and timely manner (more on this later).
When claiming your listings on top automotive review sites make sure that critical information, such as the dealership name, contact number, address, and operating hours are correct and updated across the information. Incorrect information can easily deter prospects and turn them towards your rival dealerships.
When using search engines like Google 53 percent of consumers are looking to visit a business in 48 hours or less. Having the correct information on each listing helps you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which makes it easier for people to find your dealership.
Your Google listing is especially important because of the platform’s overall popularity with consumers. Survey data shows 63 percent of consumers check Google for reviews before visiting a business, and the reviews are the second-most important factor when it comes to searching for local businesses.
Now that you know the importance of customer reviews. The next question is…
How Do You Get More Automotive Reviews?
Facebook’s study on the customer’s vehicle buying journey revealed shows 86 percent of consumers want brand engagement after their purchase, and you don’t have to do it right away. Our research shows that the best time to ask for reviews is around 2-3 p.m. and 6-7 p.m, which is an hour or so after they visit you during their lunch break or after work.
Fortunately, there are many ways to ask and acquire these valuable automotive reviews.
- Email: These usually come in the form of customer feedback surveys, but you can also attach a simple message thanking them for their business and then providing a link where they can leave their review. Up to 70 percent of customer reviews come from these post-purchase emails so take the time to personalize the message and keep it short.
- SMS messaging: Mobile devices are ubiquitous in most people’s daily lives so use it to your advantage. About 90 percent of messages are opened within three minutes, and by sending a short and simple message with a link you can easily convince any customer to leave a review. You can find some SMS templates to use here.
- Landing pages: If your website received plenty of traffic from current customers you can create an additional landing page on the site specifically for requesting and gathering reviews. Reviews gathered this way are considered to be first-party reviews, which you can use to increase your site’s ranking on Google.
- Point of sale: In some cases, you can effectively ask for a review right after the sale is finalized. This can be a simple form on a tablet or a physical handout. Not only does this request strengthen the relationship between you and the customer, but it also puts them in a mindset where they can reflect on the experience.
It’s worth noting that you can easily implement automation programs with the review request methods. This drastically reduces the number of potential errors made with each request, and it also saves you valuable time which you can use to…
Respond to your Automotive Reviews
It isn’t enough to just have a constant stream of new reviews. You’ll need to be proactive and create an effective plan for responding to reviews, especially you have plenty of negative reviews. When done well, review responses show that you care about each person’s feedback and that you’ll use it to further improve the experience for new and returning customers alike.
Responding also strengthens the dealership-customer relationship, and many brands are missing out on this opportunity. About 63 percent of consumers never get a response to their reviews, which is a shame because responding to reviews is the easiest way to talk to customers after their experience.
Responses from dealerships need to be professional, but they also have to personally address the reviewer and their comments. Point out a small detail or event that is specific to their experience before thanking them and asking for their business in the future.
People are writing reviews to be heard. Tell them you’re listening, and use their comments to find new and better ways to deliver a great auto buying experience.
A Great Dealership Reputation Starts with Automotive Reviews
Acquiring reviews and responding to them are some of the earliest building blocks to your online reputation. Use them to build a relationship with each customer and create new ways of converting first-time buyers into loyal customers for life. There are many paths to succeeding in the automotive industry, but none of them are possible without your valuable automotive reviews.