It’s not news to anyone that Covid-19 has changed our world forever. It’s changed the way we work, the way we socialize, and the way we shop. Like all other business sectors, the automotive world was rocked in early March when Covid started hitting the country hard. OEM brands like Toyota reported a 37% drop in sales in March alone, reported by CCN Business.
Shoppers made a rapid pivot from visiting dealerships to researching deals online, and dealers made a rapid pivot to capture this increase in online traffic by upping their game digitally. Pickup and delivery options for vehicle purchases and service appointments exploded. Dealers had this message plastered all over their websites and digital advertising. With all these customers now spending more time online researching each dealership before deciding on where they’re going to purchase their next vehicle, customer reviews became one of the sole factors in their decision-making process. While we have always stressed the importance of customer reviews to our clients, they are now more important than ever. According to Inc.com, 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Due to Covid-19 guidelines, consumers are less likely to discuss recent experiences with their friends and families and are turning to the web for these “personal recommendations.”
Let’s take a deeper dive into why reviews are now more important than ever and what you can do to stay ahead of them:
1. More people shopping online now than ever
Covid-19 has certainly changed the way we shop, especially when it comes to a large purchase decision like a new car. While we used to be able to visit multiple dealerships in a day, people are being more cautious about the amount of people they are exposed to so they’re turning to the internet to narrow down their search. Before a customer even makes it to your site, they will browse your dealership via Google and social sites, like Facebook. These sites provide information and reviews from other customers, rather than what appears on your website, which can be perceived as an advertisement and somewhat one sided.
2. First thing customers see when they Google you
When consumers are deciding where they want to make a purchase, the first thing they usually do is “Google” the business. Whether the customer is searching for your dealership or just browsing dealerships in their neighborhood, they look to Google to get more information. When your dealership pops up, your Google My Business (GMB) page will appear on the right-hand side of the search, which includes your Google review rating. The review section of the GMB listing is highlighted by 5 gold stars, immediately drawing in the customers’ eye. Whether you have a 2 star review or a 5 star review, they want to learn the why behind it and will move on to reading a few reviews to get that information.
3. Transparency – People trust other people more than your online claims
As an automotive digital marketing agency, it’s our job to ensure your website contains key claims that highlight your positive attributes and what makes your dealership stand out over your competition. As a dealership, it’s your job to ensure your store delivers on those claims, and your customers are going to hold you to that. If your store isn’t adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines and you claim on your site that your store is a safe place for customers to visit, you can be sure you will receive negative reviews on Google and social media from customers letting others know your store isn’t a safe place to visit. It’s negative reviews like these that will change people’s minds about visiting your dealership before ever even stepping foot on your showroom floor.
How to stay ahead of online reviews?
So how do you make sure your dealership is being viewed in a positive light online? This starts with your internal operations at the dealership. Make sure your staff is following all Covid-19 guidelines, inform your staff on special offers your advertising so there is no miscommunication between your employees and your customers, and encourage your customers who have positive experiences to share them online. Every business is going to have their occasional 1- or 2-star review, but you want to keep your rating at a 4.5 or higher. A higher rating will increase your customer pool, which will directly correlate to more sales.
During these trying times, it’s important to keep in mind customers aren’t going to physically shop around as much as they would have pre-Covid. Your online presence needs to shed a positive light on your dealership, so they take that next step down the funnel to visiting your website and eventually making it into your dealership to make their sales or service purchase. It’s crucial to keep your employees aware of the importance of your customers’ satisfaction and encourage your happy customers to review your store on social media and Google.
If you would like to learn more about Digital to Dealer Direct’s reputation management services and how we can help increase your Google and social media ratings, give us a call at 877-958-4524 or contact us today!
Diana began her marketing career more than 12 years ago, starting in public relations, and moving to automotive marketing in 2013. Her extensive background of account management, mixed with her knowledge and experience of digital and traditional marketing, allows her to manage clients and staff effectively and efficiently.
For more information on how D2D can help, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org