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An article from Michael Fertik inspired me to study dealership reviews and how the data can be leveraged.
Sometimes, social media seems to be integrated into every part of the day. But, are companies reaping rewards or return from the social-media campfire conversations? That would be a NO.
There are plenty of conversations that power a business to stand out from the competition, but for many, deducing all the fodder into financial gain is not easy.
"The number of small businesses that have increased their social-media budget has quadrupled, and 43 percent of small businesses now spend more than six hours each week dealing with social media," said Michael Fertik.
In the near future, I’d hedge to bet businesses will discover that online reviews provide more conversation in fewer places, and reveal the invisible customer – the one that got away (and launched an online review assault against the company).
Our research suggests Facebook is not the first stop when people want to check out a dealership; they often go to review sites beforehand.
My team at eReputationBUILDER recently did a study on two dealerships, one with high-end buyers and the other with mid to low-end buyers.
The two departments that benefited the most with this game changing insight into customer preference and behavior were operations and marketing.
Here are our findings: Despite differences in target markets (upper-middle incomes vs. middle to lower incomes), both dealerships experienced a growth in reviews. No matter how much or how little a person spent on a car or service repair, no matter regional differences, people still wrote reviews.
Brand association was stronger for lower-mid car buyers, but upper-income buyers cared more about luxury features. Dealers can leverage this research by making changes internally and invest dollars in marketing and operations. Propelled from the customers voice, reviews are measurable and certifiable.
The lower to mid-market company should link the brand name with its amenities (e.g., "INSERT DEALERSHIP NAME offers..."), while the higher-end business should advertise the luxury attraction ("Vehicle comes with push button parallel parking”).
Online review sites are a game changer, no doubt. But they are the dark horses in this race, at least in terms of where businesses are currently putting the most focus. Companies need to use these reviews to better their business practices and improve satisfaction and acquisition. Listen to what your customers are saying; and refocus according to your target market. You are sure to reap the benefits.