October 24, 2011
A recent announcement from Google has many dealerships worried.
“If a user provides new information about a business they know — or if our system identifies information from another source on the web that may be more recent than the data the business owner provided via Google Places — the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change.” READ MOREThis program has existed in the past at Google Places with a 60 day window, but now the frequency of updates will change. The question some dealers are asking is how much is Google going to trust in these third-party edits? The end-goal may be to keep their databases more accurate, but potential human error is much greater coming from outside sources than from the businesses placing themselves on Google Places to begin with. There is some benefit in the program, as it also encourages users to keep their own pages accurate, which can only be a good thing for dealerships when so many consumers look for information and reviews on Google first. These changes sparked some debate on the DrivingSales automotive community. One pro of Google’s changes is that dealers need to keep their pages more accurate, which they should be doing already, but the con comes from questioning just how accurate these outside updates are going to be. An indisputable point made in the discussion is that dealers should not be using Google Places exclusively for their reputation management. Google Places is useful for dealers, partially to send customers there to add reviews that will help elevate their reputation, but also in monitoring what is being said. This does not mean, however, that a dealership should consider Google Places the only location they can accomplish this, especially after Google dropped third-party integration from other review sites this past summer. Are you concerned about this and other changes with Google Places, or are you remaining calm in the interim as suggested by this recent article on DealerRefresh? Regardless, don’t put all of your reputation management eggs in the one Google basket. Keep an eye on as many review sites as you can to best monitor what consumers are saying about you. Image by: Chris Hamilton
September 12, 2011
Many dealers are missing out on important tactics for utilizing their marketing spend effectively. HubSpot recently shared a video comparing earned and paid media and how to best combine the two for a profitable outcome. Earned media is content created by you that can be shared to bring people back to your brand, such as blog posts and videos. Paid media is spending your dollars on using someone else’s media to bring in customers, like banner ads, Google AdWords, or Groupon deals. In the video available on HubSpot, David Meerman Scott explains that combining earned and paid media is far better than the worst mistake of focusing on paid media alone. For example, press releases are a great way for earned and paid media to work together, using sites like PRWeb that charge to promote your content but it is still your content. Since earned media should be the main focus, it stands to reason why social media has become so important, because that type of content is often free and easy to utilize. Ralph Paglia of Automotive Digital Marketing shared an article about the apathetic view many dealers have about social media marketing. Most dealers admit that they do not consider social media a must within their marketing plan, despite saying that word-of-mouth is one of their most important marketing tools, and social media is really just another method of that same idea. Reputation management is also a fundamental reason to pay attention to social and other forms of earned media.
“While offline forms of word-of-mouth remain critical for all automotive franchise brands, and certainly for small or locally based independent car dealers and businesses of all kinds, social media also plays a valuable role by giving customers a wider voice for their dealership experience reviews, product and dealer recommendations and helping to amplify that voice beyond their immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues.” READ MOREThe best way to leverage your paid media is to see where you can incorporate earned media into those dollars spent. Use services like PRWeb to spread important news about your brand with press releases. Maintain your usual advertizing and paid media practices. But also make sure you are a part of the conversation happening online, because ignoring this new word of mouth may cost you more of those paid media dollars than you might anticipate.
August 22, 2011
As one of the most rapidly growing automotive brands for social media presence, Nissan sees the increased use of Facebook from its customers for sending complaints and praise as a sign of the times. AutoTrader and Automotive News reported on the shift Nissan has been experiencing from questions posed to their 1-800 number to their Facebook page. The widespread growth in consumer reviews moving to social media rather than just specific review sites may be part of the issue, but regardless of customer motivation, as Facebook use grows, call centers may shrink in favor of larger social media teams.
"People are less inclined to pick up a telephone and call you for information. They don't want to wait. They don't want to be told that an operator will be with you shortly," said Erich Marx, Nissan's director of marketing communications, responsible for social media. "They just want to send you an e-mail. Or they send you a text, or they post something on Facebook." READ MOREThis revolution of social media for customer interaction and customer service, as well as reputation management, is why many brands are turning to software solutions to help manage their customer service needs on these broader levels. All Facebook offers some advice for increasing success with Facebook customer service. For instance, always reply, whether to thank praises or resolve complaints. Always respond to customers on your own page rather than theirs. Monitor your page regularly, as the attention you give customers on social media should be equal to what you give calls and emails. And be sure to add some personality to your responses so that customers understand they are dealing with a person and not an automated response. Facebook and other social media sites could very well replace or at least highly compete with the amount of calls coming into call centers for customer service. Are you ready with your social media team?
Consumer reviews are becoming more and more of a challenge and source of fear for most dealers with widespread use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter frequented by potential customers before they buy. While these reviews were once only found on Google Places or specific automotive websites, consumers are often doing their praising and complaining where the most of their friends and family can see it. Rather than see this as a negative aspect of the digital revolution, dealers need to start taking advantage. Dealer reviews online are the new word of mouth, and this word of mouth can reach far more prospects that much faster. Jillian Ney of Social Media Today recently gave dealers three main reasons to love the phenomenon: brand perception, innovation, and competitive advantage. Since reviews are everywhere a dealer might think to communicate with their customers, brand perception is everywhere too, and how your brand is perceived by current and potential customers is important.
“Why wouldn’t you want to know what your customers think of you? You then have the opportunity to use positive reviews and build relationships and possibly overcome any negative reviews,” said Ney. READ MOREStaying ahead of your reputation management is key, and can also show you where you might improve and what your customers want and expect from you. Keeping track of what customers are saying also offers insight into your competition, because as easy as it is to find reviews for your dealership, the same is true for every one of your competitors.<?p> DrivingSales looked at how reviews can best be leveraged using examples from Prestige Volvo, rated the #1 Volvo dealer in the country. Prestige Volvo strives to ask 100% of their customers for a review after purchase or service, even for a possible video review, so that potential customers can see the videos and positive feedback about their dealership wherever they go. You can see the full video interview with Prestige Volvo here. Some new challenges have arisen lately for monitoring reviews and keeping ahead of brand perception. Google Places dropped third-party reviews the other week from the main page of Google Maps. Dealers that had some 100+ reviews now only list a few, since only reviews posted directly to Google are being displayed. DrivingSales and dealerELITE reported on the loss of this additional review aggregation. The important thing to remember in the fallout of the development is that Google Places is best used for its direct reviews anyway, and the loss of third-party reviews shouldn’t be discouraging so much as an incentive to ask satisfied customers to go to Google Places and review for themselves. That being said, don’t ignore reviews from third-party sites. Make sure you are on top of your reputation management, especially when it comes to social media sites where people tend to speak more freely. Embrace your reviews online, because that is where your brand is taking shape in the minds of consumers.
Auto Remarketing recently posted an article on a study by CarGurus and what consumers are looking for in an appealing automotive dealership. The study found that “poor communication and deceptive business practices were the dominant themes in the negative reviews,” and this should come as no surprise. While the top themes for customer complaints mentioned lack of communication and wasting time, it really all comes down to bad customer service. Well into the Summer months now, dealerships across the country are excited by the buzz and sales warm weather brings, but the time of year and potential for the Summer rush is not enough to sell cars. Good customer service is what keeps a potential customer interested enough to buy, and loyal enough to come back. CarGurus also found that what consumers want in a dealership and enjoy most about the dealerships they love isn’t just fast forthright responses and friendly faces, but also a clean and organized dealership inside and out, and of course, fair prices. For many consumers, however, the buying process begins online before they even step foot in the dealership. Dealer websites are no longer static sources of advertising with listed inventory, as explained by a Dealer Marketing Magazine article, “Is Your Website Ready for the Summer Selling Season?” Now dealer websites are about interaction. They need to be a resource for consumer research during their buying process, and have live chat to accommodate buyers looking for immediate answers or looking to complete the sales process entirely online. Also, don’t forget about reputation management and dealer reviews, found extensively across the web. To combat the negative effects of possible poor reviews online, encourage loyal customers to give reviews after a positive buying experience, so that future customers can read for themselves why your dealership fulfills what they are looking for. Langley Steinert, founder and chief executive officer of CarGurus said:
“In this age of online information transparency, reputation matters more than ever. The dealers that have embraced this new online paradigm are winning customers.”