9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog
Where automotive meets digital marketing.
More than 80% of automotive buyers look at 10 or more websites before deciding where to buy, and you can be sure that at least one of those people will look at online reviews of your store.
Since most customers visit only one dealer, auto buyers will make their decisions based on the reviews and experiences of their friends, online social connections and even strangers sharing on Google, Yelp and elsewhere.
Thus the big question: How do you get (positive) reviews for your store?
The Challenge of Getting Online Reviews
It's difficult to get reviews, let alone reviews on the most valuable sites (Google and Yelp).
Many automotive dealers subscribe for services like DealerRater. Services like this automatically send a review request to buyers and ask for a review. It then pushes the review to sites like Edmunds.com or Cars.com that do not require an account.
Unfortunately, few people look to these sites for reputation checks. Instead, they simply search.
Google is by far the most important place to have reviews. What's more, reviews on Google are added to Google maps and actually improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
Google reviews (along with Yelp reviews and reviews elsewhere) are harder to get. Users have to have an account to leave a review on those sites. Plus, an attempts to get customers to leave reviews at the store might be flagged as unreliable and deleted.
The Solution to Improve Reputation Management
The easiest, and most affordable, solution to getting more reviews is to do it yourself.
The DIY approach has three benefits:
1. More reviews for your store
A DIY approach drives people to your website instead of Google, Yelp, DealerRater or elsewhere. This means it is one click for customers to leave a review and requires no log-in. This strategy increases the number of reviews and gives you ownership of the reviews to use as you wish. Maybe you create a testimonials page, use the reviews in ads or thank people who leave reviews with a free oil change.
2. Personalized requests and follow-up to make negative reviews positive before they go online
A DIY approach means you can ask customers for reviews in different ways. You might only ask customers of your most successful (and friendly) sales reps. You might decide to send a different email to service customers who had routine service as opposed to those who major repairs and might be less positive. The more personalized a review request is and the more personalized the page where the customer leaves a review, the more likely customers will actually give a review.
When customers leave a review on your website, you can follow-up before the reviews are added elsewhere online. This gives your store the chance to follow-up with negative reviews and make things right before the Internet knows about the bad experience.
Customers who leave positive reviews can then be asked to copy and paste those reviews on Google, Yelp or anywhere else on the web. You can get even more specific by only asking people with Gmail address to leave reviews on Google since they already have an account.
3. Tracking of reviewers for marketing automation
Marketing automation is a growing trend in industries from retail to software. It is only a matter of time until it reaches its full potential in the auto industry.
Marketing automation allows you to track your customer's behavior on your website. Based on what they look at online, you can tailor your marketing and even the content on your website to fit their tastes.
As an example, someone browsing Ford F-150's would be more likely to open an email about trucks than about a hybrid compact car. If you are tracking the customer, you will know how to market to them and talk to them when you call or see them in the store.
Marketing automation software can only track a customer when they click an email or fill out a form. Reviews are thus a perfect way to start tracking customers. A simple review request email with an easy to click button will grow your database. If a customer leaves a review on your website, they have now filled out a form and are thus tracked for any future visits.
Reviews are the tip of the spear that provides your marketing and sales department insight needed to do their job. The more they know about customers, the better they will do.
4. *BONUS* No monthly subscription or costs!
How to DIY Your Reputation Management
Now that you know the benefits of DIY reputation management, here's how you do it.
1. Group your customers into the personas, or categories, you would like to contact. For example, anyone who purchases a new vehicle from Sales Rep A or anyone who had an oil change.
You can write down who these groups are and then use your CRM to find the field that identifies them. It might be Sales Date or RO number to identify them into the different groups.
2. Create an email for each customer group. Your email for each group should use language specific to what they purchased or the service they received. The more personal, the better.
3. On each email for every customer group, offer a click to rate option right in the email. By this, I mean, have 5 stars in the email that customers can click to leave their review. Or have three words: Poor, Average, Great and ask them to click which best describes their experience.
This has two effects: First, it is a simple click to leave a review. More people will leave a review by simply clicking and they will now be tracked in your marketing automation system. Second, you know who had a negative experience and can send them to a different landing page to make things right.
4. Create a landing page on your website where customers can leave a review. I would recommend a page for average or positive reviews and a page for poor reviews. If someone fills out the page for a poor review, that can go straight to the manager and be handled immediately.
5. Send follow-up emails to anyone who leaves a review asking if they will copy and paste the review they already wrote on Google or Yelp. You can email their exact review text to them so it is simple for them to add their review online. I recommend three asks over the course of a month if you are really looking to grow your online reputation management.
If you want to get fancy, you can choose to send an email asking for reviews on Google only to people with a Gmail address.
6. Use your reviews. Add them to landing pages. Post them on Facebook. Use them in Facebook ads or TV spots. You know have the power of testimonials to boost not only your online reputation but also your sales.
Start a DIY Approach to Reputation Management
Even if you are paying someone else to handle reputation management, you should try a DIY approach. You can do it with a handful of customers and see if it works. What you will find is that a little bit of working setting it up will create a free system that can be automated and more successful than paid services.
We trust our friends and even strangers online. Make it easy for potential buyers to see why they should buy from you.
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