NEARLY 70 per cent of car buyers always check online reviews before contacting a dealer, according to a study by CarGurus, the fast-growing automotive shopping site.
A detailed investigation into online dealer reputation revealed just how important it can be for attracting customers, with a quarter of survey respondents voting reputation as the number-one factor when choosing their car.
It’s a growing trend, too, with third-party research identifying the 18-34 age bracket as most likely to be influenced by internet feedback. According to this research, 91 per cent of this generation place as much trust in online reviews as in word of mouth.
Amy Mueller, vice president of communications at CarGurus, said: ‘The growth of the internet and social media has made it easy for people to share their buying experiences – good and bad – with fellow consumers. As a result, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your online reputation.
‘Customer reviews set the tone for how your dealership is perceived by future customers.
‘They’re crucial drivers of new sales, and your dealership can’t overlook their importance. Every review is an opportunity to engage with your customers and build your reputation, so make sure you’re taking advantage.’
After carrying out their surveys involving thousands of respondents, CarGurus have compiled some top tips for online reputation management.
Encouragement: Asking for feedback can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it’s a crucial step for dealers who want to build trust, boost brand awareness, and ultimately, sell more cars. Plus, reviews are nothing to fear: 88 per cent of CarGurus customers leave a four-star review or better. It’s also important not to offer incentives for reviews, instead send an email to a customer after their purchase and ask for a review.
Monitoring: Once you start actively encouraging customers to leave reviews, it’s crucial you also start paying attention to them. Set up email alerts, designate an employee to be your review watchdog, or do a quick Google search of your dealership from time to time.
Responding: If a customer has taken the time to leave a review for your dealership, it’s always a good idea to respond. Plus, acknowledging reviews – both good and bad – shows that you take customers’ experiences seriously. Negative reviews require more attention, but a simple, professional response shows that you care about your customers and is often enough to put future readers at ease and can help build trust with future customers.
Using reviews: Consumers feel better when they hear real-life stories from other buyers about a product or service, which makes reviews powerful marketing tools for dealers.
By putting the customers’ voices into your dealership’s marketing strategy – whether that’s social media, newsletters or adverts – you’ll give a nudge to those ready-to-buy car shoppers who are still on the fence about which dealership to buy from.