Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
“You can’t lose something you never had” How do you take a quote from a sappy romance movie like How to lose a guy in ten days and turn it into an automarketing blog about Online Reputation Management?Hang with me and I will show you.
As a father of a teenage son I am tasked with giving advice as he becomes a young man. Part of my strategy is to challenge him with answers to his questions that are less than inspirational and make him consider my answers for discussion. I purposefully give him “Bad Advice”. When I do we talk about why it’s bad and we learn what is the better way to tackle a problem. Unfortunately in the automotive online reputation management space there is far too much “Bad Advice” that is not intentionally given. Let’s explore a few of these pearls of wisdom that may not be as valuable as we might think.
It is understood that Online Reviews have an effect on the customer’s purchase process;
74% of consumers report choosing a brand or campany based on online reviews
and we know that
90% of consumers say they trust reviews
This in and of itself gives a strong argument as why reputation management is imperative as part of your online strategy, unfortunately many experts will have you focus on volume, the more reviews you have the greater the influence right? NOPE!
Bad Advice #1: too many fall for getting a high volume of reviews with good star rating and feel that this task is done. I submit we should not focus on the volume but rather the content of the reviews. The reviewer has poured their thoughts, concerns, praises or rants into what they wrote, acknowledge that and learn from it.
In my opinion the more reviews a business has, the less authentic they are, if you do not see action taken from the reviews.
What Advice did the dealership take? “Volume of reviews sell cars so get all your HAPPY customers to write them” “Set up a kiosk at the store to get more reviews”. What is the context of why the review was written and at what time in the process was the customer asked to write the review?
Bad Advice #2? Onsite review writing. A customer should only be asked to write a review at their own discretion and in a place of authenticity. When a dealer asks a customer to write the review during the transaction the integrity of the review is now suspect. At no point should a customer feel pressured to share their thoughts. If we are looking at the importance of reviews in the correct light, an opportunity to improve the purchase process and learn from our mistakes and merits,then we should only offer up the opportunity to create a review of the dealership when the customer is completely comfortable to do so. The dealership is not a place of solace or comfort for our customers, their home is.
Bad advice #3? Well I guess its more of a misconception. Google+Local and Yelp hate car dealers, “that’s why MY reviews are disappearing. These review sites don’t believe that MY customers are real people”.
First we need to clarify what these “review” sites actually are(very abbreviated version).
Google + Local is the business listing extension of their monetized search site Google. It is a platform to drive intending customers to a business. As reviews became more prominent, Google didn’t want to not be a player in this space, they tried purchasing platforms to fulfill the review portion of their strategy, failed a couple attempts and eventually bought Zagat to boost their content.
Yelp is an advertising platform built around a social community with review functionality. Yelp was one of the businesses that Google attempted to purchase, and helped to change the landscape ever since.
Google + Local deletes reviews at their discretion based upon their perceived authenticity and integrity of the review written. If they feel at any time a business has attempted to manipulate their reviews, deletion occurs.
Yelp has a review filter used to protect three entities, The dealership, the consumer reading the reviews and the integrity of their own site.
So where does the bad advice come into this? Remember my quote from How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days? When a dealership attempts to turn their customers into review writers within these networks they are attempting to manipulate these platforms not manage to them. When a Dealership has reviews disappear or become filtered they feel as though they have “lost” something. Fact of the matter is that the reviews are not owned by the dealership. Ownership of the reviews is that of the network and the review writer, NOT THE BUSINESS.
In the case of Yelp, when a user is filtered 99% of the time it is not because they don’t believe that the customer is real, it is because the writer has not earned the right within the Yelp network to have their reviews easily accessible to the network. The review writer has not proven themselves to Yelp.
Buying advertising does not, I repeat does not stop the reviews of your business from being filtered. However you may begin to see more reviews of your business that are unfiltered…How does that happen? When you manage to the network(engage in advertising, use announcements, check in offers and rev share) as opposed to attempt to manipulate it you are now speaking to and reaching active yelpers. You are reaching active users on the site who write reviews, check in, engage in forums and discussions, you are now reaching those who have earned the right to have their reviews read.
Google + Local is on clean up mode. Bulk reviews generated in a short time period become suspect. Slowly but Shirley(see what I did there) reviews that were once written by gmail users are disappearing. In an attempt to make sure that they are serving up the best content with the greatest of integrity they have required Google + log ins and participation. Now you can see all the reviews written by the user. Now you can see what type of person is attempting to attract or detract from the business.
Third Party review sites are not your digital assets. They are owned by companies who are looking to monetize “your” data against you. If the review was not generated and integrated into your own website, it is not yours, it’s theirs!
So what is the “Good Advice”?
1. Source Your Customers: Know what networks they participate in.
2. Don’t try to turn your customers into Yelpers, turn Yelpers into your customers.Look into Enhanced Listings and advertising opportunities.
3. Invite your customers to write reviews, all your customers even the upset ones, but do this after their experience at their own timeline not yours.
This was originally published on my own blog written by me... so I think I am okay with it being published here as well, by me...um
This is me... http://www.linkedin.com/in/micahbirkholz