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It’s no secret that auto buyers are turning to online resources before making an in-store purchase. Today’s buyers are more informed and ready to purchase when they walk into their dealership of choice. This is because these internet-savvy shoppers are researching their favorite model, including options and availability, examining local dealerships to see who carries the model of their choice, and visiting review and social sites to gather other consumers’ opinions to solidify their decisions. Once this extensive research is complete, then buyers go to the dealership to test drive the vehicle. Sound about right?
With these types of buying patterns, it is more important than ever for your dealership to make a good first impression. But, how do you make a good first impression on the internet?
Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but today we’re going to focus on upholding a positive online brand image through reputation management of online reviews. If you’re not sure what reputation management is, BusinessDictonary.com describes it as the process of identifying what other people are saying or feeling about your business and taking steps to ensure that the general consensus is in line with your goals.
Reputation is Important to Your Business
Since the pool of internet-savvy shoppers is turning more and more to online resources, it’s imperative you have a good image when they come across your dealership. In order to do this, you have to work to maintain a positive brand image.
There are many companies that fail to produce a positive image and the negative comments produced by consumers typically appear on websites that have high SEO ranking. These types of negative comments can lead to loss in sales, poor press coverage, inadequate employment applicants, and lower investor opportunities. On top of all that, negative consumer comments are difficult and sometimes impossible to clean up. How do you plan to keep a healthy, positive online presence?
Listen to Reviews
This tip seems pretty obvious, but it is often overlooked. Just setting up a spot for consumers to review your business is not enough; you want to constantly monitor the sites. By honing in on these reviews, even if they are positive, you gain insightful information about your business. Sometimes, you can identify areas of profit loss, underperforming employees, or areas of your business that should be highlighted as a competitive differentiator.
Respond to Reviews
The internet is an ever-changing and evolving platform where information can spread like wildfire. Because of this, it is key that you address reviews quickly, professionally, and most importantly, personally. We advise our clients to elect a person to monitor reviews daily and then set up a process for how to respond to a review, positive or negative. When responding to a negative review, be sure to first empathize with the issue, then provide a resolution to the problem, and lastly invite the customer to come back. Depending on the review site, you’ll want to direct message your response instead of blast your conversation all over the site, but in some cases this will not be possible. When responding to a positive review, there is no need to direct message, nor is there a need to respond to every positive comment about your dealership. Just make sure your response is personal and timely.
Ask for Reviews
Often the only time consumers post reviews is when they want to complain about a bad service experience or a recent product they purchased. So, many retail outlets end up littered with only bad reviews because consumers don’t usually post reviews about their pleasant experiences. To combat this, a needed step to any reputation management strategy is to actively solicit positive reviews. You can do this in multiple ways, but the most efficient is by requesting reviews from customers through email marketing after a purchase or service.
Choosing the Right Resources to Monitor Reviews
There are hundreds of software programs in the market today that will help you manage your review sites and even provide you alerts when a consumer posts a new review. Or, you could opt to pay a vendor for consulting and reporting of your review sites and not take the burden of doing it in house. Regardless, these services will analyze and understand the magnitude and sentiment of how consumers feel about your dealership. Whichever you decide, you’ll want to find a solution that works across multiple platforms to provide you a complete solution so you won’t need more than one.
Now is the best time to get started on your dealership’s online reputation management strategy and start building your positive online presence. Regardless of the review sites your consumers are visiting, these five principles still apply and can even be carried over to your social media sites.