BY LAUREN LABUNSKY
We often call dealership websites their “online showroom,” because in today’s digital-first world that is really what they are. Prospective customers are more likely to visit your website before visiting your store in person, so it’s important to invest in a high-quality website that makes a good impression. Another important consideration is your dealership’s online reputation, which is easy for prospects to see through ratings and reviews on social media platforms as well as business listings sites like Google Business, Yelp, YellowPages.com, and more. In today’s world, protecting the reputation of your business means managing the feedback your dealership receives online as well as in-person.
Research shows that consumers read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business, and 91% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. There is a clear need to show consumers that your dealership is the right place to invest their money. Not only do high rankings and good reviews encourage customers to buy from you, but they also help your site rank higher in Google search results – this includes average star rating, number of reviews, and frequency of reviews. The quality of your ratings and reviews is important, but quantity is important too.
Managing your dealership’s online reputation on several different platforms can seem like a daunting task, especially confronting low ratings and negative reviews from unhappy customers, but every business faces this challenge. Staying on top of customer feedback goes a long way. One of the biggest best practices in reputation management is responding to every rating and review that you receive as quickly as possible. When it comes to negative feedback, there is always a chance that you will be able to resolve the customer’s issue – especially if it’s tackled right away. This could potentially lead to that person updating or removing their bad review. But even if your response doesn’t work in your favor, other prospects will see that you attempted to help that person. Your response speaks volumes over one unhappy customer’s negative message, as it shows prospects that you care and will do your best to resolve problems. It is always recommended to reply to positive reviews as well, with either a simple “thank you” or a longer note of gratitude.
Because the quantity and frequency of your reviews are also important, your business needs to create a game plan to encourage a steady stream of positive feedback from customers. It is not considered best practice to solicit reviews, but there are ways to request constructive feedback in more authentic ways – for example, by providing a link to a review form on a follow-up email to a customer after they’ve made a purchase. Third-party reputation management services, often offered by web providers, can make a big difference in staying on top of all relevant platforms as well as bringing in new reviews regularly.
Your dealership’s online reputation is too important not to invest time and resources into. It’s one of the first things your prospective customers will see when they search for your business online, and it could easily make the difference in whether a prospect chooses to buy from you. Protect your dealership’s bottom line by protecting your brand’s reputation online.
Lauren Labunsky is the public relations manager at Dealer Spike, a leading web services provider for powersports dealerships. The award-winning digital advertising company is focused on helping dealers increase sales through powerful, distinctive website design and a full suite of online marketing tools to drive results. Dealer Spike’s expertise comes from real-world dealership experience and a team of professionals who also ride. When you work with Dealer Spike, you’re working with digital marketing experts who have a passion for your industry.
Statistics courtesy of BrightLocal