9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


3 Online Review Mistakes Your Dealership Might Be Making

Everyone loves getting compliments. Nothing gives your ego a bigger boost than when someone goes out of their way to tell you something nice, right? But those compliments start to seem a lot less sincere when they're not given freely.

As an auto dealer, nothing is more essential to your reputation management strategy than online reviews. If you want to survive in this digital day and age, you must make sure that you're not only allowing your customers to share their experiences with your dealership online, but also managing those reviews with tact and ease.

But how do you do that? Here are the top three online review mistakes your dealership might be making (and how you can avoid them).

Mistake 1: Fishing for Compliments

Compliments aren't half as flattering if you have to beg for them. Same goes for your dealership's online reviews.

Of course, in order to get a review, you have to first make sure your customers know you have an online review presence. No one's going to give you a review if they don't know where to go. So you will have to ask for a review — but you can do that without being pushy.

Catch your customers early and request a review before they even drive off the lot. With their beautiful, brand-new car fresh on their minds, they'll be more eager to say something positive about their experience. And asking for their feedback in person adds a helpful human touch. The face-to-face interaction will make your customers more likely to leave a review, as they won't want to disappoint someone they know.

If an in-person request doesn't work, you can try again online — but only once. A simple, personalized email sent about a month after their purchase is your one shot at getting your customers to bite on your online-review bait.

So do it right. Start by thanking the customer for their purchase, say it was a pleasure to work with them, and ask if they were satisfied with their experience. Gently remind them that their approval is important to you, and offer a link that takes them straight to the review form you want them to fill out. Finally, thank them for their time and let them know you are available to help with anything else they might need.

And that's it. After your in-person request and follow-up email, there's nothing more you can do. If a customer wants to leave a review, they will; if they don't, they won't — and if you keep pestering them, they'll only start to resent you.

Give them the opportunity to respond. Then just shut up and listen.

Mistake 2: Confusing Your Customers

When it comes to collecting positive reviews, simplicity is key. While unhappy customers will do whatever it takes to destroy your reputation online, happy customers will just move on if they don't know what to do.

Make it easy on them by establishing a professional presence on a few of the most popular review sites and leaving clear instructions there if necessary. In your email asking for a review, be sure you not only provide a direct link to those review forms, but also explain explicitly what you want your customers to do once they're there.

But be careful — providing too many review sites can be confusing to your customers, especially if you aren't consistent with which site you are promoting. To keep things clean, you might want to maintain just one or two review sites, and monitor all those submissions as a one-stop shop. If you do that, we recommend sticking with Google, as it gets the most traffic by a long shot. We also like Facebook, Yelp, or Cars.com if you want to reach a wide audience.

Mistake 3: Failing to Follow Up

Getting people to actually post their comments is only the first step in the process. Next, you need to respond to them.

Failing to follow up with your online dealer reviews can be just as bad as not receiving any reviews at all. When you neglect to address a problem, you not only anger the person who had that problem, you also alienate the entire public. Because when potential customers are reading your dealership's reviews, they're not just looking for issues, they're looking to see whether you handled them well.

An angry post won't turn someone off from your dealership. But if they see that you didn't respond, they'll think you don't care about keeping your customers happy, and that will turn them off.

When you receive a poor review, respond immediately with an apology and any next steps you'd like to take. If it's clear you're dealing with someone unreasonable, you don't need to make any promises, but if you really were in the wrong, offer to make it up to them — and do it publicly. Anyone reading your response will be impressed that you went to such lengths to right your wrong.

But don't continue the conversation online. After you apologize, offer your contact information (or offer to contact them) so that you can clean up the mess away from the public's prying eyes.

And don't think that responding to reviews only pertains to negative reviews. If you've got a happy customer on your hands, make them even happier by replying with a simple thank-you. Let them know it was a pleasure to work with them and you'd be glad to help them out with anything they might need in the future. The personal touch will be one they remember when they need service or are looking for their next car.

Continue to Build Your Online Reputation

Once you're aware of these common online review mistakes for auto dealers, you can start working to avoid them.

But staying out of trouble is only part of the equation. To have a really amazing online reputation, you need to be proactive in your digital marketing strategy.

9 Clouds takes your current reputation management to the next level by using marketing automation to send the right message to the right people at the right time. We can help make your customers happy enough to leave five-star reviews across the board. Learn more about our smart marketing services for auto dealers here.