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Do Reviews Really Sell?

By Paul Potratz on Feb 12, 2013

Do dealership reviews really sell cars? Are you confused about the discussions surrounding the importance of reviews? When you read reviews are you reading about the product or about where you are buying the product - Be Honest. This week on Think Tank Tuesday, learn the truth behind all the effort you've given to working on your dealership's reviews.

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Paul and I have been discussing this for a few days now on Twitter. The end result is that his opinion is derived from a Google Survey campaign, undefined "Dealer Surveys", and his personal experience and anecdotal stories of buying from Big Box National Retailers. I have nothing against Paul, but I do have something against misleading dealers, intentional or otherwise.

Please read what market research experts have to say about the reliability of Google Surveys for this kind of empirical research here: The abridged version is that the results net a.)Weak Data Presented as Fact, b.) a DIY Method that Leads to Misunderstood Results, and c.)Lack of Segmentation that Hampers Usability. Those are the words of experts in their field, not mine.

I think it is tremendously important that the community recognize that Paul represents an extreme minority position using his own research exclusively to support a position that is contrary to every other study on the topic.

Google's ZMOT, Nielsen Trust Index 2011, Trust Factors July 2012, Harvard Business Review study on YELP ratings Oct 2011, eMarketer study dated Feb 7th 2013 on proliferation of reviews to name a few, and that is just a few. (Unfortunately I can't hyperlink to these well known studies)

Just this weekend at NADA, Automotive News covered industry research authority POLK at a press conference that used DealerRater data to authenticate a 25% greater lift in sales for dealers that average 4 stars as opposed to those that avg 2. Here is the coverage of the story that starts at the 1:47 mark:

Mr. Bob Shuman of Shuman Chrysler Dodge Jeep in his own words echoed the findings. He is far from alone. I have had a handful of dealership owners and employees that have reached out to me since Paul began promoting his study with their own personal accounts of sales attributed exclusively to their reviews.

Consumers absolutely use 3rd party reviews of your business to determine where they will shop and buy. The idea that reviews matter less than coffee, carpet or toilet paper is preposterous, your online presence is an extension of your physical presence without distinction. None of those things matter at all if you are eliminated from the consumer's search because you believe the consumer isn't reading your reviews. They are equally who you are to the consumer.

I know my tone probably seems harsh. Please know that I have nothing against Paul personally, but I feel strongly that dealers need to research this on their own, there is plenty of data out there. No offense at all to Paul, but I totally disagree.

Feb 12, 2013

Based on my own personal experience both leveraging consumer reviews to sell cars while employed as the Director of Marketing and eCommerce at Acton Toyota in Massachusetts and then interacting with DealerRater clients while employed as the company's Vice President of Business Development, I can tell you with 100% certainly that yes, consumer reviews do indeed help to sell cars. Just my two cents.

Feb 13, 2013

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