An overwhelming 95 percent of vehicle buyers use digital channels as their main source of information, which makes online reputation management for car dealers a huge factor when it comes to attracting customers.
To gain additional exposure and more revenue, dealerships will need to cultivate an online reputation that makes them appealing to potential customers. Specifically, there are three ways to accomplish this feat:
- Claim your listings
- Respond to customer reviews
- Take full advantage of your website
Car Dealer Reputation Management Step 1: Claim Your Listings
The easiest way to increase your online footprint is by claiming the dealership in multiple online listings. Obvious sites include the Big Four, aka Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, which are popular for most consumers.
However, it’s important that you also have a foothold on auto-specific review sites to better cater to the right audience. These sites include:
As you claim these sites, make sure that the information displayed on each listing is correct and updated. Consistent information across these sites not only helps with your search rankings, but it also increases the likelihood of a customer conversion. The slightest bit of incorrect or outdated information will easily dissuade anyone from taking the next step to buying a car from you.
Ensuring that you have correct information across multiple listings can take some time, but there are some helpful citation tools out there that can make the process easy and quick for you.
Car Dealer Reputation Management Step 2: Respond to Customer Reviews
According to an online reviews survey, auto dealership reviews influence 65 percent of consumers, which makes it the third-most influential industry for reviews. This means potential customers are actively looking at customer reviews before they visit a dealership.
Negative reviews convinced more than 94 percent of consumers to avoid a business, and the way you handle negative reviews can also determine if more customers come through the door.
By crafting a well-written response you can address any customer issues in the review while also maintaining a professional yet courteous brand reputation. Responding to negative reviews can also change the minds of 45 percent of consumers and persuade them to visit the business.
However, the most important reason to respond to reviews is to show that you care. Customers are writing reviews to be heard not just by other consumers but by the dealership itself. Sadly, a majority of consumers – 63 percent – never get a response to their review. That’s an overwhelming majority of consumers that you could convince and convert to your dealership with just a well-written response.
Don’t wait too long to send a response, especially to those who had a bad experience. More than 53 percent of consumers expect you to respond within a week. They took valuable time out of their busy day to write a review so make sure that you give the review the response and time it deserves.
Car Dealer Reputation Management Step 3: Take Full Advantage of Your Website
Perhaps the best way to represent and alter your online reputation is through your own website. When done correctly, your site can attract customers and be a reliable for more than just a customer’s next car.
One way to do that is through compelling content. Specifically, this can be in the form of – you guessed it – customer reviews. Creating a testimonial page or including a reviews widget allows you to show genuine feedback from customers that loved the experience, and it works. Research from Northwestern University revealed that displaying the reviews on a site increased conversions by 270 percent.
In addition to showing off reviews from other listings, make sure that your site also features a place where customers can also leave feedback. These will count as first-party reviews for your site, which makes it stand out and rank higher on search engine results pages.
Another website initiative is to have a dedicated blog page with appropriate car-related topics. This can include posts such as the steps to buying a car, regular maintenance tips, or a short list of common car problems and how to fix them.
You can also create interesting video content that discusses these topics while using the cars you sell as accompanying material. In fact, a Google study showed that more than 40 percent of auto shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks eventually visited a dealership because of the video.
The goal here is to become a thought leader for most car-related topics. Compelling blog content and a well-planned SEO strategy allows you to attract customers who might not be looking for a car at the moment but will have you in mind in the future because of your content.
The Building Blocks to Effective Reputation Management
With these steps, any dealership can raise and maintain a positive online reputation, but don’t expect results to come overnight.
Think of it like a reliable vehicle, which needs regular attention and maintenance to run for many years. To keep up a positive online reputation you’ll need constantly create related content, engage with customer reviews, and maintain your third-party listings.
In time, consumers should take notice of your efforts and you’ll reap the rewards in higher conversions, retained customers, and more revenue.