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We all know by now that at the end of July, Google changed how they calculate star counts on Google Places. (see previous post)
Dealers that relied heavily on Dealerrater.com, Yelp.com, or CitySearch.com saw their review counts drop drastically toward the end of July.
I have been encouraging dealers to post review on Google Places because it will increase referral traffic to their website and increase calls. Some dealers are skeptical just how important Google Places is to their overall website traffic. Others are skeptical if posting reviews directly on Google Places makes an impact.
I finally have some direct proof that focusing your attention on customer reviews has a major impact on consumers clicking through to your website from Google Places. The term Zero Moment of Truth refers to the digital "scorecard" and "influences" consumers see prior to selecting a product or service online. You can download my ZMOT white paper on this link: Automotive ZMOT
For dealers, Google Places reviews play a major part of the Automotive ZMOT experience. For the dealer in the case study below, Google Places shows over 40,000 times a month. Where can dealers get 40,000 impressions (opportunities) a month for free?
If you have been lackadaisical on adding reviews each month to Google Places, this is your wakeup call. Take a look at the data below.
I am sharing the Google Places analytics summary data for a dealer in the period from June 1st through September 16th in the graph below. Notice that over this period of time, the number of impressions have stayed basically the same.
However, there was a big drop in "actions" when the dealer's star counts dropped from 275 to 3 when Google changed their algorithm. Google removed the DealerRater.com reviews from their star counts and look at what happened.
So let's dig deeper and look at traffic in June and then we will look at traffic in the last 30 days. In June, the dealer had over 275 reviews in their star counts, primarily from DealerRater.com. In August, their review "star" count dropped to 3. Notice the BIG difference in referral traffic in the two graphs below:
In the month of June, this dealer had over 275 starred reviews and it resulted in 3,176 clicks through to their website. In the last 30 days, with 3 reviews this dealer had 429 clicks through to their website.
This is an 86% drop in referral traffic and the impressions stayed basically the same. So if anyone is NOT taking their Google Places account seriously, here is the data.
To get 3,000 replacement visitors would cost you over $8,000 in pay-per-click a month or $100,000 a year in automotive advertising PPC. Is the effort to get reviews posted by your customers worth it? You decide.
The more reviews you have on Google Places, the more FREE traffic you will generate to your website. This makes a strong case to immediately implement an in-store review process using the Google Places app. Once this dealer gets their review counts over 275 using Google Places App, their high referral traffic will return. For a store of this size, this can be fixed in a short period of time.
When you have the highest number of reviews in your market, you can amplify the benefit by running Google Adwords Express. Google Adwords Express is not available in Canada as of today.
Reviews are a trusted resource by consumers. They become your online brand. Whatever you think your brand is does not matter. What matters is what people see online BEFORE they contact you.
If you have been holding off implementing on in-store Google Places review process, this data should light a fire under your ass.
Choose if you want to leverage Google Places to drive free traffic to your website or drive traffic to your competitors.
If you need help, give us a call.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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