Word of mouth is as important as ever, and word of mouth is digital!
84% of consumers noted that reviews were important in their purchasing decisions, and 98% read online reviews for local businesses.
Most of your customers are extremely satisfied with your dealership. Unfortunately, too many customers are largely hidden or silent. Most dealers ar in need of a review strategy.
There are many official platforms, such as Google Product Review, but even a comment on Instagram or Facebook can serve as a review.
The top touchpoint on the vehicle purchase path is a search engine, so it makes sense for a car dealership to focus on Google reviews.
Do Google Reviews Really Help?
We have been referring to the dealership website as the online showroom for years. A dealer’s Google Business profile (AKA Google My Business) is the front door to the dealership. Not all users who visit this front door will visit the dealership website or the dealership. A poor front door will see many potential buyers move to the GMB of the next dealerships. It is essential to have the Front Door working as hard as possible. (You can read more about optimising your GBP here and the relevant GMB categories for dealers). Reviews and dealer rating (4-5 stars) are huge in building trust with potential customers.
Many Car dealers have long recognised the value of online reviews and more specifically, Google reviews on their Google My Business Profile. For example, these 4 Melbourne Ford dealers have 2.3k reviews between them.
Also, note buyers are making decisions at the point, primarily based on the number of reviews and the average star rating.
The volume of reviews, review ratings (4 or 5 stars) and frequency or how recent the reviews were made all play a part.
The Importance of Social Proof
A key value of car dealer reviews is the idea of social proof – essentially, that vehicle buyers find this dealership valuable or trustworthy, and so you can too. Back in the day, this social proof generally came through word-of-mouth: a friend or family member would tell you about a good experience with a dealer, and so you decide to try it for yourself.
Nowadays, though, social proof is found overwhelmingly in online reviews (primarily Google reviews), and often you don’t even need to read the review (that’s what the 5-star system is for) to be convinced of visiting a dealer. With a five-second Google search, you can find everything you want to know about a dealership and decide whether it’s right for you.
But have you ever noticed that when you search for a product or service online, the top results are always the ones with the most reviews? Volume is important.
We hear of many car dealers incentivising their salespeople to get customer reviews. The salesperson can get a little extra commission if they get a review with each car sold.
We also hear of the smarter car salespeople using these reviews for personal branding.
They ask their customer to name them in the review.
The result is potential buyers keep seeing a salesperson being endorsed or recommended in reviews and are then turning up at dealerships asking for that salesperson. This leads to more cars sold and can have a real effect on that salesperson’s salary.
The Effect Beyond Social Proof
As in the real world, your reputation is key to your success in the digital space. Beyond serving as a beacon of trustworthiness to consumers, positive reviews signal to Google that they can display your business in a prominent position as part of a local search result. Google Reviews are weighted heavily by the Google algorithm when it comes to local search results.
Keywords or phrases customers use in reviews impact what a business ranks for.
The example below shows the results for a search of ‘best car dealer in Melbourne’.
Note the car dealerships who show for this term have customer reviews with these keywords.
How do I get genuine reviews on Google?
The issue many of our clients face when they first come to us is that they need to be more active in acquiring reviews. As Google prioritises the relevancy of reviews to searches, dealerships must become proactive about collecting reviews and the reviews content.
The best time to ask for the review is within the first 24 hours when a new buyer feels great about their new purchase.
You can generate a short link to send to buyers via email or SMS in your business profile.
To get the link search your business on Google (you need to be logged into the email address associated with the GMB)
Google your dealership name, and you should see a panel at the top of the SERP similar to the one below:
Click “Ask for a review”, and you will get a short link to share:
Once you have this link, the next step is to set up a process where this link is sent to the new customer within 24 hours of purchase.
It makes sense for the handover team to be responsible for this.
Asking for the Review
Although you can’t outright tell customers what to say, a good way of maximising the impact of a review is to offer some guiding questions when you invite customers to leave a review. Remember, reviews containing words relevant to your dealership help your dealership appear when your potential customers search for the brands you sell.
Try some of the following questions:
– Did you buy a new or used vehicle? (keywords – New Cars, Used cars)
– Where do you live? (location)
– What did we do well? (positive framing – Google also looks at sentiment)
– Would you recommend us to a friend?
– Who sold the vehicle (Personal branding)
Each of these questions will refine the relevancy of your review and make them more valuable to Google when it comes to local SEO results and your overall search ranking.
There are many tools out there that can automate this process.
Google Reviews and Content Creation
We recommend a tool that several of our clients use that can automate the process and help manage and improve 2important touchpoints on the path to purchase. These are:
– High star rating GBP reviews = increased visibility locally.
– Social media content production = time saved and consistent look/feel.
How it works:
During the handover, the consultant takes a happy snap, and the buyer is then sent this photo (which is branded with the dealer) and a request to review the dealer.
This drives up 5-star reviews, increasing their local viability, building social proof and increasing traffic to the site, and in turn, adds more customers.
The photos and the review are saved to the platform and can then be turned into a social post published directly on Facebook from the platform with branding (in a few clicks). The social media post will have
1. The GMB review as the caption
2. The branded photo from the handover
If you would like help with your Google Business Profile or setting up a collecting google reviews, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.