Have you ever eagerly awaited the release of a great new movie? Anticipation mounts as release day approaches. Then you go and see it, only to leave disappointed. I’m sure I can name plenty of box office bombs which were initially hyped up and expected to be box office blockbusters. If you look at the factors involved in what makes a “bomb” versus a “blockbuster,” there tends to be one key thing that ruins the movie — the script.
The same principle applies to many of the new technology “shiny objects” presented to dealers for them to salivate over, especially website add-ons and widgets. They are sold with high expectations. Then, when installed, don’t perform as expected. Dealers end up disappointed and cancel the service.
The problem is, many of these “shiny objects,” while canceled, do not get removed and the script remains running in the background until infinity.
Every time you add a new widget to your website, your website vendor installs a script so that it functions properly. As you cancel services, those scripts tend to pile up. However, they still continue to communicate with the canceled vendor’s service, even though your dealership receives no benefit. In fact, quite the opposite. Those scripts left on your website threaten your Google rankings and SEO because one of the factors Google looks at when evaluating a website is site speed. The more scripts running in the background, the slower the site, meaning your dealership website is penalized by Google.
It can get pretty incredible. In fact, I recently came across a dealership that couldn’t understand why its site was running so slowly. It turned out that it had 71 old scripts still running despite having canceled the service! Those scripts were killing the website like a bunch of digital sharks attacking the dealership.
Is it the vendor’s fault? In some cases, perhaps. You can’t rely on vendors you have canceled to reach out to your website provider and uninstall the script. When it comes to your website, it pays to be vigilant.
If you cancel a service, reach out to your website provider to ensure it is uninstalled. Failing to do so can harm your website speed over time and lead to a detrimental analysis by Google in your search rankings. Also, think about all that data those scripts continue to transmit to the canceled vendors.
In the end, it is essential to safeguard your dealership from digital sharks and bad scripts. Otherwise, your website could go from a box-office blockbuster to a bomb. And that is an outcome no dealership wants!
91% of service customers defect once they are out of warranty, and those are a dealership’s most profitable customers. What can your dealership do to help retain these valuable customers?
Tire sales can easily distinguish your dealership from its competition and decrease defection, but only if they are promoted and sold differently than how most dealerships currently do it.
Tire sales should start right at the purchase of the vehicle. Have your salespeople inform the customer that your dealership is super competitive on tire prices. Then be sure to engage throughout the life-cycle of the customer with regular promotions via email blasts or text, whichever the customer prefers. By reinforcing that message throughout all of the dealership’s marketing, your customers will be more engaged, and you will be top-of-mind, with a better chance of capturing their business when they are in the market for tires.
The next promotion point is your website. Dealers on their game regularly add prominent tire service specials to their website. However, fusionZONE discovered a big problem – in most cases, those service specials only offer a “click to print” option and aren’t optimized for mobile devices.
These days, 60-70% of consumers use the internet via mobile devices, and this number is increasing. Why wouldn’t you provide your customers access to your specials on their cell phones? If you require customers to present a coupon for a tire special, shouldn’t your website and coupons be both accessible and redeemable the way most consumers access them – via their phones?
At fusionZONE, we saw a need for change and created Mobile Text Coupons for both sales and service. Now the customer can choose a coupon, enter their phone number, and store this coupon in their smartphone’s wallet. They can then present this coupon to the dealership’s sales or service department and get their desired discount or deal. Here’s an example:
fusionZONE has tested this state-of-the-art product with three very savvy, large volume dealers, and the results are worth reading:
1.BMW of Bloomfield: According to GM William Finsilver, the dealership saw a 200+% increase in service leads. “In the past, if the service customer printed a sheet of coupons, we were not capturing a lead. Now our service team proactively reaches out to the customer and books the appointment,” Finsilver said.
2.Sun Toyota: This dealership increased tire sales by 60%. “Using Mobile Text Coupons with paid search to increase awareness that we are in the tire business has been huge for Sun Toyota! Mobile Text Coupons allow us to contact the customer and book the appointment,” said John Marazzi, Managing Partner.
3.Brandon Honda: “The innovation that fusionZONE has brought to the table here is a game changer!” said GM Sam Raabe.
Mobile Text Coupons finally give an identity to the service department. While most dealers concentrate solely on sales, this feature provides fusionZONE dealers with an upper hand by generating leads for the service department. This is something dealerships have struggled with forever.
Contact us now at 888-576-1136 to find out how Mobile Text Coupons can help your dealership.
Ultimately, the end goal is to get the service customer to continue to service their vehicle both during and outside of warranty. This retention in service also gives your dealership an increased opportunity to sell the customer their next vehicle once they get into an equity position.
It makes sense to adjust your sales and marketing strategies to today’s customers. This will increase the likelihood that those customers will stick around. If your customers continue to service at your dealership, they are that much more likely to buy their future vehicles from you, and refer their family and friends, too. This circular transactional pattern can only lead to increased profits, a busier sales and service department and, ultimately, happier customers.
These days, reviews are an incredibly important part of the purchase process for all retail businesses. In fact, according to a recent article, online reviews influence a whopping 93% of consumer purchasing decisions.
Car shoppers increasingly turn to reviews when deciding who they should buy a vehicle from, which is the 4th step in Google’s 5 step consumer car-buying process. At this point, the consumer is a pretty low-funnel, the only remaining step being “Am I getting a good deal?”
Car dealerships have long been trained by both vendors and manufacturers to pay attention to reviews; to respond to and interact with any consumers that leave reviews for their dealership.
Historically, one of the single most important areas on Google is a dealership’s Google My Business page. It is one of the first things to pop up when a consumer searches for a dealership. Too many bad reviews can mean the dealership loses sales without even getting to know about the prospective car shopper. That lead just goes to a competitive dealer whose online reviews makes it appear they will provide a better experience. That is why many dealerships are hyper-sensitive (and rightfully so) about maintaining a positive presence and actively solicit happy customers to leave reviews, especially if a bad review was posted and they need to balance it out.
As of now, a dealership’s Google My Business page typically includes a little information such as overall star-ratings from multiple review sites, along with a few reviews. However, a consumer has to click into the dealership’s Google My Business page to read more.
Well, things are changing – and fast! Google is about to supercharge reviews, making them more important than ever, by allowing consumers to leave comments and reviews RIGHT IN THE SEARCH RESULTS! And not only that, but searchers will be able to up and down vote comments a la Reddit. They can press the up arrow if they think the comment is helpful or insightful. While the down vote option can be used if it appears the poster has bad intentions or is disrespectful.
According to Search Engine Journal, Google is testing this feature right now. Imagine a consumer searching for a dealership name, or even a general search phrase such as “Honda dealership,” and right in the search results they see comments, up and down votes and reviews from other consumers.
Without going to a single review site, a consumer can view and like comments about a dealership, right in the search results. What if a consumer posts, “This dealership sucks!” and others like that comment enough that it is the FIRST thing that appears in search results? At this point, a searcher will probably never click on a dealership’s Google My Business page, and they probably won’t click on the LINK TO THE DEALERSHIP’S PAGE!
It’s even possible that a dealership with poor reviews could WANT their dealership’s listing to NOT show up high in organic searches. God forbid that a prospective car shopper sees other consumer’s negative comments about that dealership right in the search results, without having to visit any review site. Now the dealership has two choices. First, it can clean up its reputation and somehow get consumers to leave positive comments in the search results to counter-balance the negative one. Or, second, try to make their dealership as invisible as possible in search results — search engine optimization… but in reverse.
Stay tuned my friends, this is all very new, and reviews are going to get even more interesting. Decisions about how to handle those comments that will soon appear in your search results will need to be made. And you should have strategies in place to handle them.
Interesting times are ahead. In this highly-competitive industry it is best to be ready ahead of time, rather than play catch up when it may be too late.
Search engine optimization can be a confusing thing. As search engine algorithms frequently change, many find it hard to keep up with the latest trends and best-practices in order to maintain high website rankings.
Well, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is Google which, according to the 2018 Search Market Share report by SparkToro, commands 93.76 percent of all searches. This breaks down for all Google properties as follows: Google itself (69.3%), Google Images (21.03%), YouTube (2.9%) and Google Maps (.80%).
Sure, there are other search engines out there (and they shouldn’t necessarily be discounted completely). But, Google is, by the numbers, the single most important search engine in existence.
The problem is that many dealers don’t understand how to optimize their websites to improve rankings. As a result, many SEO efforts are falling short. But, luckily, it is not that hard to do better — you could greatly improve by simply knowing the “rules” and playing the game according to those rules.
To keep it simple, there are four key things every website should adhere to in order to stay in the good graces of Google and garner favorable consumer search result rankings. They are as follows:
- SSL Secured Sites –To ensure search engine results point to more secure websites, Google recently announced that it will start marking non-secure websites with a warning when searchers click on them.
If you have an unsecure site, this should be cause for alarm. In addition, in July 2018, Google started looking further into secure vs. non-secure sites and takes this into account in search engine rankings. This now presents a two-fold problem: First, consumers may be afraid to click on your site if it presents them with a message that it is unsecure. Second, this will affect search engine rankings.
- Mobile Friendly Sites – Today, an increasing number of consumers conduct searches on mobile devices. So, Google now looks at whether or not your website is mobile friendly and factors that into its search algorithms.
According to Google, 94% of smartphone owners search for information on their phones. With its focus on search relevance and customer experience, there’s no doubt that a mobile friendly site merits a higher ranking in their algorithm. It is vital to know if your website is mobile friendly (by Google’s definition) and make this a priority if it is not.
- Page speed – We’ve all been victims of slow-loading websites and know how frustrating that is. When online car shoppers encounter a website that takes too long to load, many simply find a new website that provides a faster experience.
While page speed is vital for mobile searches, that same consumer action (choosing a new site rather than waiting on the initial one to load) can just as easily happen on a desktop. Because of this, Google considers how fast a website page loads as one of the many factors that dictate search rankings for your webpage. Ensure that your websites load quickly, or you will be penalized in search rankings.
- Responsive Design – It’s one thing to have a mobile-friendly website, and quite another to have one that is responsive. What does responsive mean? It simply means that your website is automatically optimized to be user-friendly regardless of which device the consumer chooses to use.
In fact, responsive design is Google’s preferred design pattern, according to Search Engine Land. Google dictates which sites appear first in its search results and is (for the most part) tight-lipped about their algorithm. I therefore think it’s safe to assume that whenever Google provides “advice” on the features websites should have, they are providing clues about how to achieve better results in their rankings.
While things in the search engine optimization world can certainly change depending on Google’s mood at the time, if you do these four simple things to speed up your websites, you should have a considerable advantage over any competitor’s websites that don’t adhere to these rules.
Take some time to review your website and, if it falls short of any of these points, have a conversation with your web provider to get your website up to speed. Otherwise you will see less website traffic and conversions, and nobody wants that!
In our industry, conversion rates are horrible. A great dealer “might” convert at a higher rate, but many are missing the boat on the majority of their website visitors. There are many reasons why this is true. However, the sad fact remains that it is.
Imagine making some simple tweaks to your website which produce an immediate increase in the number of website visitors who decide to engage with you. Do you think you’d sell more cars? Of course, you would! The instant a consumer engages with you, the chances of you selling them a car increases dramatically. But what is stopping them from doing so?
If you ask most lead providers for performance reports, you will get varying answers as there are so many different types of interactions they consider to be a conversion. Heck, some of them think simply getting a customer TO a dealer’s website qualifies! Their rationale? That consumers are no longer filling out forms. Because of that, many providers have chosen to use alternate metrics when, in reality, a lead is the only real conversion that matters.
The average conversion rate on a dealership’s website is 0.75%. That means less than 1% of all website traffic fills out a lead form. How can this be true? And, if it is, what can your dealership do about it?
Fix the mobile experience!
As 60% of ALL WEB TRAFFIC is via a mobile device, the mobile customer experience is key. However, dealers are losing a majority of their customers simply because their mobile experience is flawed.
In fact, the average mobile bounce rate is 70%. To put this in perspective, let’s say you get 10,000 online car shoppers a month visiting your website, 6,000 of whom use a mobile device. With a 70% bounce rate, 4,200 of those 6,000 mobile shoppers only visit one page before bouncing to another site. This is simply because many dealerships do not have their sites optimized for the mobile experience.
How can you increase leads? Here are a couple of tips about the main problems preventing online conversions and simple fixes:
- Site Speed – In July 2018, Google started penalizing slow websites. As a result, page speed is now more important than ever. Increasing the loading speed of your website results in a lower bounce rate, higher engagement rates and better search engine rankings. If you don’t know how fast your dealership’s website loads, you can access Google’s official tool and find out. If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, your bounce rate increases by up to 150% per second!
- Weak Calls-to-Action – Poor word choices on calls-to-action, or obnoxious forms that nobody would fill out, obviously contribute to low conversion rates. Why? Because weak calls-to-action lead to poor consumer mindset. For example, which do you think is more likely to encourage a customer to fill out a form? “Get your e-Price?” or “Get your best price?” Sometimes, a simple change in wording can increase conversion. So, be cognizant of your what your calls-to-action say and optimize wording to improve shopper engagement.
Today, the car shopper’s mobile experience is key to your dealership’s sales success. Optimize your site for the mobile user with an easy-to-navigate website that loads quickly and is equipped with well-designed calls-to-action. Otherwise, it will negatively impact your conversion (lead) rates.
Take the time to investigate how your website is performing in these areas. Examine your calls-to-action and truly ask yourself whether the experience you see is one you would like as a shopper… or would it drive you to a competitor’s site? Be sure to also check it out with your smartphone to see how the experience is for a mobile user.
If your website visitors – especially mobile – are presented with an easy-to-navigate site that loads quickly, provides the information they seek and has compelling calls-to-action, you will see your leads skyrocket and the doors to success unlock.
To find out more about this topic, attend my session, Increasing Online Conversion is not as Hard as You Think!” at the upcoming Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit in Palm Beach, FL. Monday, November 19, at 3 pm. In my presentation, I will share how to supercharge conversions on your websites through mobile optimization.
Arguably, one of the most important marketing channels any dealership has is their website. Think about it. How much money do you spend simply to get customers there? When you combine all marketing efforts including, but not limited to, SEO, SEM, some third-party listing sites and more, dealerships spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) per month.
Once that customer hits the dealer’s site, most dealers have the additional cost of all of the widgets it has chosen to adopt. Whether that’s a chat service, trade-in appraisal tool, inventory merchandising on VDPs, video and photo content and more, everything is designed to communicate with customers and/or provide the information that they need so they convert and purchase a vehicle.
But what about the most profitable area of your dealership? What about those customers that need vehicle service?
A huge piece of the puzzle is missing from most dealership’s websites: the service department.
According to NADA’s 2017 annual report, the average dealership’s service and parts department enjoyed sales of $6,793,905. But, when it comes to marketing, at many dealerships this profit center is overlooked.
That makes no sense whatsoever! Why would any dealership exclude marketing their biggest profit center when they could do so relatively easily?
All that money spent on SEO and SEM is mostly designed to attract car buyers. Ah, but many current customers go online when they have service-related questions, such as how to pair their iPhone with their in-vehicle entertainment system, how much does service cost, or to perhaps search for available coupons. The sad part is that far too often the dealership’s website has very little, and sometimes no service information at all. Those that do are often full of outdated information and expired coupons.
So, where do theses customer go to get that information?
While you’re completely focused on acquiring sales customers, your service customers are finding all the information they need in the worst possible place for the future of your dealership’s largest profit center… on independent repair shop’s websites!
And, at that point, where do you think those customers will go for service? It’d be silly to think that consumers aren’t motivated by low prices, offers of speed and convenience and attractive coupons.
But, the biggest problem many dealerships have in this highly competitive service space is NO MESSAGE WHATSOEVER! What is a dealership supposed to do? Why not pay attention to the very strategies independent repair shops have long used to steal your customers: implement a few of them and reclaim that service business.
Consider revamping your website and provide the information your customers are seeking — rich service and parts content, tutorial videos, effective appointment scheduling services and more. Provide your dealership with every opportunity to serve these customers, establish value in dealership service versus independent repair facilities and this will quite simply help to prevent customers bouncing from your website to an independent’s. That rich content will also attract new service customers.
Another huge benefit of relevant, user-friendly content which is continuously posted and updated, is that it helps your dealership rank higher in Google searches. The exact thing you desire on the sales side is much easier to achieve in fixed ops. In most cases, you are not in competition with manufacturers, third party listing sites, lead providers and so on, vying for customer eyeballs. You may even want to consider creating a standalone website on a sub-URL designed specifically for service.
It’s absolutely possible for your dealership to outrank PepBoys, Firestone, Midas and Jiffy Lube! In addition, because Google search results are now location-based, you have an edge over competing brand dealers to get that local service work by ranking higher in common routine maintenance searches.
Stop ignoring your service department and start using your online real estate as a powerful marketing platform for vehicle service. Don’t be afraid to advertise service-related pricing, the independents do, and they are doing just fine. Take back the service work that is rightfully yours by adopting best practices that will drive service customers. Some of them, as you know, do convert to sales customers. The bottom line is; the more customers you have coming to your dealership – whether sales or service – the more profitable you will be and, in the end, isn’t that what you want?
Dealerships spend a lot of money on leads. The bigger the store, the more money spent. And, added to that expense are staffing costs and the time and effort involved in trying to engage with consumers who submit the leads.
In the car shopping process consumers conduct a considerable amount of research and visit many different touch points. A major goal of any dealer’s digital advertising is to engage that consumer, capture their interest in a vehicle and get them onto their website. Typically, at that point, the consumer has narrowed their vehicle choice down to one the dealership has in stock, and the behavior indicates a low-funnel buyer.
Then the magic happens… and that customer converts on your website. But then the process grinds to a sickening halt.
Wait a minute – what the heck happens here — why do so few of these leads turn into actual sales? Something inevitably motivated that car shopper to fill in that form to get more information and initiate contact. So, where’s the problem?
We studied the process in many dealerships and found the problem lies in the fact that the average time for a lead to get into the CRM is 6-12 minutes. This is for a multitude of reasons including poor email providers, volume of requests being processed, etc. But the point is, it’s pretty inefficient.
The faster you obtain the lead information and contact the inquiring customer, the more likely that customer will still be sitting in front of their computer, perhaps even staring at the VDP they converted on! Each passing minute reduces the chance the customer is still in “car-shopping” mode, available to talk. The general rule of thumb is that the first person to get that customer on the phone gets the sale.
However, at most dealerships what happens is as follows: The Internet Manager or BDC team receives that lead in the CRM. Auto-responders get fired out and dealership employees start calling. But the customer does not answer the phone. The Internet Manager or BDC agent might make that initial outbound call within seconds of receiving the lead, but still fail to connect with the customer. Sadly, that lag of 6-12 minutes getting the lead into the CRM can quite simply destroy the sale.
Have you ever heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? The same applies to the digital world. The mechanics involved once a customer clicks that “submit” button typically go something like this:
Customer hits submit. Information is sent to website provider. Website provider sends the information to the dealership’s CRM in ADF/XML format. CRM provides dealer with the lead.
If the Internet Manager or BDC agent quickly connects with that lead, the customer is typically impressed and open to talk. It’s the time lag between a customer requesting information and being contacted that reduces contact percentages. It simply creates inefficient communication chains and a poor customer experience.
How can you tell if this is happening at your store? Test it yourself! Submit a lead and monitor how long it takes – on average – for a lead to go from your website into your CRM. But don’t stop there. In addition, monitor how fast someone on your staff reaches out. Both of these factors are vital to improving the time it takes to actually connect with a customer, and from there your overall closing rate.
Customers like a good experience. If you can quickly connect and provide relevant information, this starts building rapport and trust.
Don’t get caught out by a failure to communicate.
The sheer volume of leads many dealerships receive can be overwhelming. And, not only do they have to respond (hopefully quickly) to any new leads, they are also expected to follow up with those leads with a “buy or die” mentality. I can guarantee you that whoever is responsible for following up with leads can quickly be overwhelmed by their to-do list in the CRM.So, what do they do? Quite frankly, they cherry pick leads. They tend to place more focus on new leads, contacting and prioritizing them based on the few tidbits of information the customer enters when filling out the lead form.
To compound the problem, some dealerships fail to teach employees how to interact with these prospective car buyers to take them all the way down the funnel to a sale. This lack of correct training and processes can lead to salespeople pre-qualifying leads, wasting good prospects and leaving money on the table.
For example, let’s say an Internet Manager gets a lead. The customer has a 2017 Ford F-150 with 40,000 miles on it. The Internet Manager immediately believes this lead is a waste of time. Without further investigation they simply think the customer must be upside down on their loan. They may then contact them hesitantly, if at all. If they do reach out they perhaps begin the conversation with a negative attitude and then lose the sale due to lack of interest.
But wait a minute, for all they know the customer doesn’t owe anything on that truck. However, they have already made up their mind and pre-qualified themselves out of a sale. Rather than reaching out and aggressively attempting to contact the customer, they perhaps make one attempt, then move on to the next lead that just came in… and the cycle continues on.
Most salespeople are trained to pre-qualify customers in their normal sales process on the lot, asking exploratory questions to determine whether they should show the customer what they asked to see, or make a beeline into the showroom and have the customer fill out a credit application. But this mindset does not translate well to online leads.
Another part of the problem is that if the person at the dealership lacks sales experience, they quickly learn which leads are “hot” and which are not simply based on whether they are able to contact the customer or have tried a zillion times. Hell, I would probably get frustrated as well.
The point is that every lead is an opportunity and every opportunity should be treated and responded to the same way – quickly.
These days, it is not uncommon for a customer who plans to go car shopping THAT DAY to fill out a lead form on the Internet to see what responses they receive. When they don’t receive anything but auto-responders and templates (yes, they know that they are receiving templated responses), they simply go out and shop. And if you failed to respond they may very well go shop your competitor who DID respond.
So, firstly don’t pre-qualify your online leads, treat all leads as prospective car sales. And secondly, respond to them quickly and appropriately.
Otherwise you are losing sales and throwing money away on leads that are never followed up. How many times has your dealership sold a car to someone upside down, with challenged credit or who seems like a lost cause when they came onto the lot? I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of those instances. The same applies to online leads.
Treat every Internet lead as an opportunity. Treat them all the same and do so quickly. Establish a process and reward those that follow it.
Sometimes, the runt of the litter turns into the strongest dog in the pack. And those can be the dogs with the most potential, but the easiest to miss.
Online reviews, and especially Google reviews, should be a huge priority for any business operating today. It takes some time and constant effort to properly execute a review management strategy, but it’s worth it: reviews provide the very foundation of your online reputation, and how you manage them can mean the difference between life and death for your dealership.
Trust-building and Brand Differentiation.
We live in an age where widespread internet access means that dealers don’t get to make the first impression when a customer walks onto their lot. With a vast majority of consumers conducting a vast majority of their research online before ever setting foot inside a dealership, dealers must be able to establish and build trust at the very outset of a prospective customer’s online journey. To this end, online reviews are critical to the initial establishment of trust for online shoppers. Research has shown that:
These numbers speak volumes about the necessity of online reviews for today’s shopper, and why including them in your reputation management strategy is no longer merely an option. Review management, as one component of a greater rep man strategy, will continue to be critical for the foreseeable future.
Reviews are also necessary for brand differentiation. Consider that the automotive industry is an almost perfectly competitive market: a consumer can find the same or essentially the same products and features at any dealership within a given segment. As a result, we must find other ways to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. One way many dealers are doing this is by creating a unique and pleasant car-shopping experience. But even if you’ve formulated a slam-dunk customer experience, how will online shoppers know about it? You guessed it: by reading reviews on the internet. Given that 90% of consumers read online reviews before deciding to visit a local business, your reviews are what will make you stand out so that buyers want to visit your store rather than the one down the street.
Making Reviews Work for You.
Like social media, online reviews are not a one-and-done thing; making them work to your advantage requires incorporating them into your larger reputation management strategy, and growing and monitoring them on a regular basis. Three of the most important factors for effectively managing your online reviews are recency, quantity, and quality.
When an internet user enters a search query into Google, Google’s aim is to serve up content or businesses that are most relevant to the search terms. It follows, then, that recency increases relevance, and dealerships with the most recent content and reviews will fare better on search results pages.
Along with being a key search ranking factor, the recency of your online reviews has a direct impact on whether consumers decide to visit your website and, ultimately, your dealership. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed several key findings that go to the importance of recency:
To sum this up, you must be constantly seeking new reviews – every day, from every customer. Getting ten great reviews in two days in order to cover up one bad review is not a viable business practice; today’s customers are more savvy than ever, and they will quickly catch on, resulting in a degradation of your dealership’s credibility and perceived trustworthiness.
Constantly seeking new reviews isn’t important only for recency, either; it goes to quantity, too. Consumers look to see how many reviews have contributed to your dealership’s overall star-rating. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective: Are you more likely to trust a business with five stars and only 2 reviews, or one with 4.5 stars and 50 reviews? Common sense points to the latter.
The star-ratings and content of reviews is, as you can imagine, hugely important, both for SEO ranking as well as for building consumer trust. On its support site, Google has said that “Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” Rating and content quality are important to prospective customers, too. According to Podium’s State of Online Reviews survey, 3.3 is the minimum star-rating a business must have for consumers to even consider engaging with it. And since 68% of consumers would pay more for the same product or service if assured they would have a better experience, it’s important that the substantive content of the reviews include an evaluation of the various aspects of each customer’s experience that led them to write a review.
There’s an important caveat here, though. Having a few negative reviews isn’t always a bad thing; the key is how you respond to and manage them. In fact, a large number of online car shoppers say that they’d trust a dealership that professionally and caringly responded to a negative review more than they’d trust a dealership that had no negative reviews whatsoever. If you manage them properly, one or two negative reviews can actually enable trust rather than hindering it.
The bottom line is that online reviews have a huge impact on your bottom line. If properly solicited, managed, and monitored, they can propel car shoppers to both your website and your brick-and-mortar dealership, and ultimately result in a significant lift in sales.
If your dealership doesn’t already have a dedicated YouTube channel, it’s time to get one. You may think that since you post videos on your website, there’s no need to post them on YouTube, but the opposite is true: If you post videos on your dealership’s website, you should absolutely have a corresponding YouTube channel where you post those same videos. Why? Three simple words: reach, visibility, and cost-effectiveness.
Many of us don’t think of YouTube as a search engine, but that’s exactly what it is. In fact, it’s the second-largest search engine in the world — second only, of course, to Google. Moreover, YouTube is the world’s third-most-visited website after Google and Facebook. It gets more than 30 million visitors per day, adding up to around 1.5 billion visitors each month. That’s a massive potential audience that dealers cannot afford to miss out on. And if you think people aren’t interested in watching car dealership videos, think again. According to David Mogensen, Head of YouTube Ads Products Marketing at Google, “views [on the platform] of test drives, features, options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the last year.” Even more telling is that 70% of people who watched YouTube during their car-buying journey say that it influenced their ultimate purchase decision. These are powerful statistics that illustrate a huge opportunity for dealers to grow their marketing reach and thereby expand their customer base.
Not only does having a YouTube channel expand your reach in a huge way, but it can drastically improve your dealership’s online visibility, as well. The three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) have now started blending their search engine results pages (SERPs) to include mixed media like news, images, and video. This, in turn, has created yet another great SEO opportunity: When a user searches for a brand or model that you carry, a properly-optimized channel can create an additional link on SERPs, increasing your potential visibility to that user.
Having a dedicated dealership YouTube channel can also increase your SEO authority. According to Launch Digital Marketing, “Google’s job is to give searchers the best answer to any question, and their algorithm has started to rank YouTube results and web pages with video as the best (most helpful, useful, engaging) answer for many search queries — particularly tutorial-, how-to-, review-, and test drive-related queries.”
As a marketer, your job is to gain maximum exposure, traffic, and conversions while spending as little of your budget as possible. And let’s face it: this can be a tough feat in today’s ultra-competitive digital marketing world, especially for car dealerships. But not all marketing efforts require a massive chunk of ad spend. Take, for example (you guessed it!), YouTube. Creating a YouTube channel for your dealership is completely free! And considering the reach and visibility it offers, the wildly popular video platform can be one of the most cost-effective ways of advertising and promoting your inventory and dealership.
What to Post
Now that you’ve decided to create a YouTube channel for your store or dealer group, the question remains: Where do you start? What types of videos should you post, and how often? Stay tuned for the answers to these questions later this week.