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Social Media Marketing Wins Over Another Skeptic With Tangible Results

I just finished reading "Social Media Gold: Ratings & Reviews" by Lance Loveday and was struck by his article's conclusions, which correlate highly with several observations I have made about Social Media Marketing. Since early 2008 I have been saying that once you build your "Social Media Infrastructure", which in my case is generally a hub and spoke design, you then must work diligently at Reputation Management... Why? Because as I have been showing dealers for over 2 years, the consumer ratings and reviews when managed properly will drive more actual business, faster and more effectively than any other component of social media marketing.

In his article, Lance describes seeing the presentation embedded below at a conference... What really caught Lance Loveday's attention were the eye-opening statistics on just how effective ratings and reviews are. He was so positively impressed he took notes, which Lance claims is something he rarely does.

Here are the notes that Lance posted on his blog:
• NetShops research showed that products with reviews had 26% higher sales
• Letting users sort results by user ratings helped PetCo increase sales 41%
• Products with reviews generally have a lower return rate
• Bass Pro Shops indicated that users who viewed Top Rated products had a 59% higher conversion rate
• Including ratings & reviews in emails had a huge lift in email CTR
• Items with ratings on internal SERPs got a 100%+ higher CTR than those that didn’t
• Better SEO is a side benefit of incorporating reviews (more keyword-rich copy on the page)

In his article, Lance goes on to say that he can believe in results such as increased sales and higher web site conversion rates... From what I can tell, the presentation was some sort of epiphany for Lance which brought around another non-believer to see that social media is worth the effort. Actually, in my opinion unless you build the entire system out the way I have seen it done by a handful of dealers, even the ratings and reviews aspect of Reputation Management is pretty tough to drive business from... The key is to amplify the positive reviews so they are 100x as widely shown and seen than the negative reviews... But, to explain how that works is getting too far into the secret sauce of what I have been working on diligently for two years! If you are going to NADA, please be sure to attend my NADA workshops in the ADP conference room at the convention center so you can see exactly how all the pieces fit together. In the meantime, check out this slide show:

Your Users Trust Each Other, Not You: Why and How to Implement Ratings and Reviews
Ralph recommends for car dealers: Slides 38-44, 90-93
Lance Sees Social Media SEO Impact

One of the last treasures that Lance Loveday stumbled across is the significant SEO impact that a properly executed Social Media marketing strategy delivers... Like so many others that get blinded by the dazzle of search engine results, Lance was forced to reassess his opinion of social media marketing when he realized the SERP impact that it generates as a byproduct. Lance also found out the when user ratings and reviews are part of a web site's actual structure, they receive better organic rankings... This of course leads to what? More traffic (doh!). Lance does go on to admit that a lot of the SEO impact is intuitive (thank God) and simply makes a lot of sense. If a dealer has more social media profiles and account pages with relevant content, photos, videos and consumer reviews and ratings, well it stands to reason that searches for related topics may turn up more than one of these pages... It all seems quite annoying to me that people actually have to have the SEO thing pointed out to them. This is what makes me think there is always something smelly about anyone who asks for money to improve a dealer's SEO results... It is the sites and the content, stupid, not some black magic witchcraft... That's what drives the search engines... If you got more web sites with more good stuff that people find interesting, you get better search engine results.

Is there a science and methodology that can be used to emphasize or make your websites rank better? Sure there is... But more than half of what drives SERP rank originates from WHAT HAPPENS ON OTHER WEBSITES, BECAUSE YOUR SITE IS NOT CREDIBLE! It stands to reason that if you have created dealership accounts and profiles that are properly populated and proactively managed in accordance with the stated purpose of each of these social media sites, that those profile pages will get ranked (can I get another Doh!). Want proof? Go to the ADM Members section and start copying member names from their profiles, then open another tab in your browser, go to Google and search for those names... Uh huh... See what I mean? The ADM Community is just another social media site and it is relatively tiny compared to thousands of others that have more than an automotive professional focus. Yet, the biggest complaint I get is from members who cannot understand why their ADM Profile page ranks higher than their dealer's website which also has all their information listed within it. That's because social media sites are popular and when people search and find a social media profile page, they tend to click on it more than they do car dealer website pages, by a factor of several million to one! Do you still think your dealership should stay away from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the thousands of other social media sites? If you do, let me know who you are so I can send you my proposal to sell a very pretty bridge that goes to Brooklyn, NY... Chump!

As Loveday points out; "a page with more content will likely outrank a page with less." (f&%$ing brilliant). Loveday goes on to state his opinion that "pages containing ratings and reviews make better linkbait". Now why would that be? Common sense tells you that it is the same reason why people like to read movie reviews, or listen to the Republicans respond to a Democratic politician's speech... As humans, we love to see what other people like ourselves think about, and are willing to write or say about somebody else, their work or their products.

So like many other posts on ADM have told you for the past two years... Get proactive and start driving reviews and ratings from your happiest and most loyal customers. Then, the real question is this; Do you have more HAPPY and SATISFIED customers than the ones you manage to piss off? because the angry ones will find a way to spread that poisonous negative word of mouth... As a car dealership you must be proactive and effectively remind, encourage and remind your happiest customers (repeatedly) to send their surveys back to the OEM... Ooops, excuse me, I meant go to your ratings and reviews web page of choice and submit a top-box rating with a nice description of why they are giving your dealership that top box rating. Personally, I prefer DealerRater.com, but there are at least 3 others that get indexed by Google.

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Tags: Marketing ROI, Social Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Tangible Results, Wins Over Another Skeptic

Comment

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Comment by Brian Pasch on December 14, 2009 at 3:36am
Great post Ralph and reminding everyone that SEO is not magic but rather a labor intensive task that often is pushed on the back burner. Time is a rare commodity at the retail level.

Content is a strong foundation for good SEO and review sites are one of those tools. From Joe Orr's presentation at DD7, I would encourage dealers that are working on Internet Reputation Management (IRM) to place a unique phone number one each of the review sites that show-up on Google pages 1 and 2 for a search on their dealership name.

Normally, these visible sites include DealerRater, Yelp, InsiderPages, CitySearch, Judysbook and a new player called PrestoReviews. Go in and edit your listing on each site and place a unique tracking number on your profile page. Again, do a search on your dealership name and focus on the sites that show on pages 1,2 and 3.

Also keep in mind that the ultimate IRM website is Google Maps. It rolls up reviews from multiple sources and is displayed thousands of times a month for car dealer name searches. Google Maps is the yellow page book of the digital age. You should post reviews directly on Google Maps but make sure you diversify the sources from the list above.

By creating tracking numbers per review website you can have a baseline for calls per month today and watch that number grow as you add more reviews.

You can also re-purpose the written reviews on 3rd party websites and place the customer's statement on your website with links back to the original post. The link back shows that you didn't make up the review and adds credibility.

Specialty Review Feeds


DealerRater has both a Javascript snippet and RSS feed that will automatically display consumer review on your website. This does nothing for SEO because the data is physically on another website, it just fills up a page. The RSS feed is great for Facebook, NING or other portals that provide widgets for RSS feeds that can display the scrolling reviews which leverages the review exposure.

The way around this, is to cut and paste the great reviews and place them on a new content page on your website with links back to the source; it helps with SEO and credibility. If you create the content strategy properly, the review text can help to increase your local search visibility and build credibility. Make sure you add the city and state of the customer if you have that information available.

As far as pace, take it easy so that you don't have 10 reviews posted in two days and then nothing for a month; it lessens the credibility factor. You should have a minimum goal to get one customer review per week on the top five review sites, which would give you 20 reviews a month. If you don't have the time or patience, hire someone.

Doing nothing is not an option if you look at the numbers presented by Ralph in this post.

Brian Pasch, CEO
Pasch Consulting Group
http://twitter.com/automotiveseo

Influencer
Comment by Steven Moore on December 14, 2009 at 3:18am
Great post- IMHO start with service reviews there are more of them and they are already a customer that may have been serviced several times and will be easier to get them to review you..I buy a car once every 4-5 yrs but it gets serviced 20-30 times during that period...Remember to watch your Google sidewiki reviews and comments they will built up over time as more people start to use them....

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