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3 Helpful Tips to Make Sure Your Online Reputation is Protected!

Your dealerships online reputation can literally make or break your business success.  Why’s that?  Because, statistically speaking, around 90 percent of all consumers use the Internet to research businesses when they are looking for a product or service. 

Your online reputation will determine whether those consumers choose you or one of your competitors.  You can also be sure that if you do not manage your online reputation, it will be managed by other people, who will inevitably post reviews, comment on your business in forums and social media sites, publish blog write-ups concerning your business, and more.  For this reason, you need to do everything you can to ensure that what people see when they find your business online is as positive as possible.  How do you do that?  Here are three helpful tips to make sure your online reputation is protected:

  • Monitor your reputation.  Make use of social media monitoring tools like HootSuite, and web monitoring tools like Google Alerts, to find out what others are saying about you, when they say it.  When you know what you are facing, it makes it much easier to address it in a timely manner, and also to assess your best approach.
     
  • Participate.  It is inevitable that people are going to talk about your business (if you are doing things right).  Your best bet is to involve yourself in the conversation.  Make it a point to respond to both positive and negative feedback, and also to volunteer information that will help keep online conversations about your business going.  Establish your social media presence, maintain a website, write a business blog, or more – the possibilities are really only limited by your imagination (and the amount of effort you are willing to put in).  Just remember that participation is key.
     
  • Optimizing your responses.  Once you have developed the habit of monitoring your online reputation and have established yourself as a willful participant in the development of your online reputation, you need to make sure you are participating in a way that is most conducive to bettering that reputation.  As previously mentioned, participation is key.  However, there are some best practices to consider, especially when it comes to handling negative items: respond in a timely manner (NEVER ignore negative feedback), be diplomatic and fair, avoid using a defensive or demeaning tone (stay positive!), and offer viable solutions.

Online reputation marketing is a complex process, but it is also tantamount to your business success.  To make the most of your online reputation, you may want to enlist the help of qualified and competent professionals like us, Prime Automotive Marketing. We can be reached by phone, at 401-528-7850, or by email: primeautomarketing@gmail.com

Rick Mosca

Founder & CEO Prime Automotive Marketing

Views: 475

Tags: management, marketing, negative, online, reputation, reputation management, review, reviews

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Comment by Jason Wittman on March 9, 2013 at 10:57am

Nice article, Rick!

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 14, 2013 at 8:18am

If a site is valuable to consumer users of Google's search engine, then Google will ensure prominent placement of that site in their SERP. 

Yes Ralph, another reason to use Google+, control the web equity show in the right hand part of SERPs. Tell Google about your website and offering. Push photos, videos, etc. through it.

I see a ton of dealers missing out on this aspect and have educated most of our clients in using it. They get it once they see how powerful it is and how it can be utilized.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 14, 2013 at 8:14am

Google+ is obvious an outlet, not only for social interaction, but for controlling your reviews as well (sorry if I failed to mention it). I use a tool called SocialDealer in order to control all of my social posts and reputation monitoring. Geared specifically towards Auto Dealers and their needs (owned by Castle Auto Group).

Comment by Ryan Leslie on January 13, 2013 at 9:49pm

Sure thing David. I'll get on it first thing in the morning.

I hate to be cryptic, but there is this large industry event in a few weeks that garners a lot of attention for new products and BIG NEWS.

Comment by David Sharp on January 13, 2013 at 8:10pm
Ryan, I would be very interested in seeing the rest of the info you teased us with. As I said in my earlier post, I am currently tasked with making a recommendation to my auto group's ownership group regarding dealership reviews and I am really looking at DealerRater for this service. Could you shoot me an email with any info that you think would benefit me in my presentation? dsharp@elliottcdj.com. Thanks!
Comment by Ryan Leslie on January 13, 2013 at 7:47pm

@ Tim Mahan,

You said: Alexander mentions DealerRater. That's fine but how many people go there or have even heard of them?

Please don't be offended,  but I can tell by your responses here that you'd be surprised. You've made an assumption based on your experience that honestly doesn't reflect reality. I can't let the cat out of the bag on the complete dataset, but I'll be sure to post more of the numbers when they are public. Here is what I can share with you at this time:

In Nov of 2012 there were 1.14 million cars sold. During that same period of time there were 1.4 million unique views of DealerRater review content through various distribution channels.

We recently commissioned a blind sampling of 3500 dealers nationwide to look at review counts and penetration of reviews on the most notable third party review sites. This sampling was done after August’s scrub of Google reviews. The data was interesting to say the least. Google, Cars.com, YELP, Edmunds and Yahoo! Local combined for 74k reviews for this sampling of 3500 dealers. For the same set of dealers DealerRater had 79k indexed reviews.

By way of illustration, I bought my wife an expensive camera for Christmas. I am no photographer and relied extensively on consumer reviews to choose the right make and model. If you offered to reimburse me for the purchase, I could not name 3/4 of the niche sites that strongly influenced my purchase. It is tremendously flawed to assume that branded recall of a niche site equals purchase influence. There were 286k more unique views of our content than total cars sold in Nov.

Comment by David Sharp on January 13, 2013 at 7:26pm
Tim, I completely understand what you are saying, clearly Google+ is going to be "in your face". However, since you HAVE to have a Google+ account AND be "active" (according to whatever Google decides that is this week) on your Google+ page AND not use verbiage that Google determines is spammy (like the name of the dealership, the make and model of vehicle, etc.) "AND, AND, AND" for Google+ to determine that your review is legit and actually post it for people other than yourself to see, DealerRater seems to be the best and most consistent way to get reviews. Additionally, when you search for a dealership on Google, you can usually count on their DealerRater, Cars.com or Edmunds reviews (potentially all three) to show up one page one of the search results. Take for example a Google search for "Sam Pack Ford", about midway on page one you get their DealerRater page. And this is without having the term "review" in the search.

Having said all this, one of the key objectives I have been tasked with currently is finding out the best way for our dealership to utilize and ask for reviews. No doubt, if you truly want to make use of the Internet to build your business, you are going to deal with new customers. Customers who don't know you and potentially dont know anyone who does, and your reviews are how they choose whether or not they will consider you.

I think one thing we can all agree on is the importance of online reviews while at the same time we may not agree on the best methodology. This conversation, and others like this, help all of us to determine what works best for each of us individually.
Comment by Tom Gorham on January 13, 2013 at 4:48pm

Ralph, I saw Richard Bustillo from Rick Case Honda at AutoCon 2012 and was very impressed.  Although I didn't agree with everything he said (I never do), I saw someone who was not too proud to say he had been blind, but now sees the light.  I loved it.  He has done amazing things for his store.  I believe he would agree not to put all your dough on one horse.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 13, 2013 at 3:54pm

Tim and Tom, thank you for a good discussion on dealership reviews... I featured a video from the Cobalt/ADP Team on Friday primarily because it is the first time I have seen an organization as strict about their research data based recommendations to car dealers make a statement supportive of a Reputation Management strategy I have been using with dealers for several years.  That is, when it comes to encouraging customers to write and post reviews, you want to make it easy for the customer to post to whichever review site they feel comfortable with... HOWEVER, the smart dealer will have created a review and ratings site that the dealer has full control over. 

Since day 1 for Google Reviews I have frequently said that the one thing we can always count on Google for is to change their algorithms, products, policies and guidelines... They have consistently, since 2000, changed the way anything that is shown to their search engine user appears over and over and over again.  For a dealer to rely on Google as the primary review site they recommend to customers is ludicrous! It has been and has not changed, just more and more people are finally waking up to the reality that Google, more than any other online customer review resource is likely to change the way they display, or do not display customer reviews as an ongoing continuous improvement process... And, Google is seeking improvements that are most certainly NOT intended for the car dealer, but rather these changes are intended to improve their search engine user's experience. 

I enjoy using many Google products and find them to be highly useful and effective, but one thing I have learned since I started working with Google over ten years ago... If you are not paying for it (and sometimes even when you are) you do not want to create a process or strategy that is dependent upon Google NOT CHANGING that application or web based resource.  Heck, in general, unless a dealer has a PAID LICENSE or some form of fee based ownership, you do not want to place high value assets (such as reviews) in that application as part of your marketing strategy.

Encouraging customers to post reviews while they are in your dealership is reasonable and practical if you are providing them with an easy to use means of posting their reviews to a site the dealership owns or licenses (controls).  Asking customers to post reviews while completing a customer experience survey is a business best practice.  When those reviews appear on a dealership's website, Facebook Page, Blog site, etc. then that is a great way to get them indexed by Google and ensure maximum eyeballs are on them.  I like both PrestoReviews and BusinessRater as tools designed to provide dealership customers with a review site that is independent of the dealer's own website, but which the dealer has licensed and controls. Plus, both dealer review site suppliers encourage "Point Of Sales" Customer Reviews as being the most accurate and timely... Which they are.  The benefits of being able to resolve a customer concern issue before the customer leaves the dealership is, in fact, a competitive advantage for dealers who implement such a process over those that do not. Why not ask customers to evaluate and document their experience while it is still freshest in their minds? All the research in this area shows that the highest percentage of reviews per customers served, and the most accurate reviews are when customers are encouraged and supplied with the means of posting them as soon as possible after the goods or services are received... Including new and used cars, as well as repairs and maintenance.

As for Tim's point about the way customers use the Google Search Engine, there is no doubt that Google is the primary tool used by car buyers to find information about car dealers and the vehicles they may be interested in buying... However, Customer Review sites other than Google appear prominently in the SERP for dealership branded search queries, as they should...

If a site is valuable to consumer users of Google's search engine, then Google will ensure prominent placement of that site in their SERP. 

Last August my friends at Rick case Honda in Davie Florida started taking control of their reputation management and switched from encouraging customers to post reviews to DealerRater, Google and Yelp after they left the dealership, to asking customers to complete a customer survey and rate their experience at the dealership using the dealership's new BusinessRater.com review site and account.  They have since generated well over a thousand customer reviews and the Google SERP results for "Rick Case Honda Reviews" for Davie, FL Google users are shown in this screen capture from a few minutes ago:

Comment by Tom Gorham on January 13, 2013 at 7:51am

Tim, I got your point about Google but it felt as if you were dismissing other review sites as irrelevant.  I don't believe that is true.  Since Google changed their review requirements, more of our customers are choosing other places such as DealerRater to write their reviews.

I have never referred customers to Yelp, for example.  I would simply say, "If you are a Yelper, please write a review."  Now I am doing the same with Google+.  I don't ask people to sign up for either one in order to write a review.  It's futile.  Am I wrong?

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