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Chris Theisen

Chris Theisen Director of Digital Communications

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Customer Reviews---Why most dealerships get it wrong

I hear alot of talk these days about customer reviews, and with good reason. They allow your prospects peers to tell your prospects about their experience with your business. This should be a no brainer for any business, but especially car dealerships. With such a negative stigma (most of it earned back in the day) tied into the car buying experience why wouldn't you want people talking about their experiences online. While most reputable dealerships get this part, most miss the big opportunity with customer reviews; allowing them to be indexed by search engines.

"But Chris my Dealer Rater reviews show up when I search for my companies name online" Good for you but you are still missing huge opportunities. "My Google Place listing has 80 reviews" Congratulations and keep up the good work, IF someone is searching for your name.

What if someone is on a search engine but isnt searching for your name? What if they are searching for new Chevy Malibu and happen to live near your dealership. What do you do then? Hope your website shows up in the search result? Even if your website shows up for that search it most likely wont be a targeted landing page and it almost certainly wont contain any customer reviews or user generated content.

Why not take your customer reviews to the next level? Start using services like Compendium (with their web to post feature we utilize at http://blog.harechevy.com) or Presto Reviews that allow you to take your user reviews and experiences and turn them into indexed content by search engines. That same person searching for a new Chevy Malibu sure would like to hear about that guy from the other side of town who just bought that same car and what he thought of it or his experience at your store. You already have this content and are already asking your customers for it, why not optimize it for your advantage instead of just for the Yelps and Dealer Raters of the world. Now Im not saying stop these services. With Google Places returning reviews from these sites on your listing they are a must have as well but use them as needed to enhance your online presence, not as your whole online presence.  

There is one big caveat to this, keyword research. Whether you pay someone (highly suggested) or do the research yourself, you need to know what people are typing into search engines in your area. Stop guessing or optimizing your content for what you type into a search engine, you dont buy cars from you. Once you have hard keyword research evidence you are on your way to turning your customer reviews into indexed content that can truly break down barriers and drive business.

Stop relying on third party review sites that only show in branded searches and start optimizing your customers experiences and reviews so they show when it really matters, before they know who they want to trust with their hard earned money.

 

Chris Theisen is the director of digital communications for Hare Chevrolet the “Oldest Transportation Company in America” Chris believes in the power of engaging current and future customers via new digital media, and uses it on a daily basis. When not attached to some sort of technology device he enjoys golf, tennis, bowling and coaching youth sports. Chris, his wife Liz and their sons Michael and Jonathon live in Noblesville. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook or by email at ctheisen@hareauto.com

 
Arnold Tijerina
Great advice, Chris. Excellent article!
Chris Theisen
Thanks Arnold appreciate you reading and commenting.
Mark Dubis
Customers will not believe reviews they see on or in a directory on the dealers site. Without valid, third party, objective reviews that highlight not only dealership but the sales professional, dealers will be at a competitive disadvantage going forward. Also Chris you forgot to mention that the folks at Presto reviews are friends of yours, so your comment might not be completely objective. There still is only one dealer advocate site that gives every auto sales professional a free page to promote themselves, no matter what dealership they work at. Mark Carfolks.com
Chris Theisen
Mark, Do you have any research to back your claim? While I dont totally disagree with you a blanket statement like that doesn't help anyone in this instance. Also your claim that reviews on our Compendium blog or anything on Presto aren't valid or objective is erroneous and slanderous. We don't alter those reviews at all. If you meant something else by valid and objective I apologize. In listing Compendium and Presto I was only giving examples of sites that can accomplish this, by no means is it an advertisement. I know we have talked previously but I would have to go back into your site to see if it accomplishes what I mention in this post. If your reviews have the ability to be individually indexed by search engines or optimized by keywords then I will do an edit and include you as well. While I do like your approach of a page for each sales person the facts are that most don't understand any of whats said on this website, let alone realize the need to do it. Until this happens services like yours won't be utilized to their full potential. You should be in dealerships talking to individual sales people instead of on dealer forums where your main goal goes on deaf ears because it doesn't match with the goals of the dealerships. Another thing about 3rd party review sites; they are only as strong as their brand is with consumers. Consumers know Carfax, they brand to consumers. Consumers know Cars.com, they brand to consumers. Consumers don't know or even trust Dealer Rater or Presto or Carfolks.com as much as they could if those sites branded themselves and marketed to consumers. If those sites truly wanted to be the voice of objective reviews to truly help consumers they would be doing that, instead of just talking, marketting and branding themselves to dealerships to make money on them. My post was more about using what you already have to boost your status in search engine results pages, not to talk about consumers views on reviews. Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough in the post. Thanks for your feedback.
Aj Maida
Chris, Good stuff. Yes reviews have become so important but the which, who's and wheres are so diversified as to be confusing. Thanks for a little clarity.

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