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Why building an online reputation is more important now than ever for dealers

Posted by Andrew Dooley on May 13, 2020

While the UK continues its lockdown, there’s plenty dealers can be doing to fine tune aspects of their business which will enable a faster recovery as business returns. Online reputation management is one such area of opportunity.

Reviews are an easy way to impress buyers who are undecided about where to purchase during the lockdown. Underlining their importance: a previous CarGurus study found that nearly 70% of car buyers check online reviews before contacting a dealer.* The study also revealed just how impactful a positive online reputation can be for attracting customers—a quarter of survey respondents said reputation is the most important factor when choosing a car.

It’s a growing trend, too, with third-party research identifying the 18-34 age bracket as most likely to be influenced by online reviews. According to the research, 91% of this age group place as much trust on online reviews as on word of mouth.**

Some examples of positive consumer reviews left during COVID-19:

Whether you’re already a CarGurus Top Rated Dealer (congrats!) or you’re striving to become one, below are our top tips for online reputation management:

1. Encourage buyers to leave reviews

Asking for feedback can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it’s a crucial step for dealers who want to build trust, boost brand awareness, and ultimately, sell more cars. Plus, reviews are nothing to fear: 88% of CarGurus UK customers leave a 4-star review or better. It’s also important not to offer incentives for reviews, instead send an email to a customer after their purchase and ask for a review.

2. Regularly monitor incoming reviews

Once you start actively encouraging customers to leave reviews, it’s crucial you also start paying attention to them. Set up email alerts, designate an employee to be your review watchdog, or do a quick Google search of your dealership from time to time.

3. Respond to all reviews — both good and bad

If a customer has taken the time to leave a review for your dealership, it’s always a good idea to respond. Plus, acknowledging reviews – both good and bad – shows that you take customers’ experiences seriously. Negative reviews require more attention, but a simple, professional response shows that you care about your customers and is often enough to put future readers at ease and can help build trust with future customers.

4. Promote your reviews to prospective buyers

Consumers feel better when they hear real-life stories from other buyers about a product or service, which makes reviews powerful marketing tools for dealers. By putting the customers’ voices into your dealership’s marketing strategy – whether that’s social media, newsletters, or adverts – you’ll give a nudge to those ready-to-buy car shoppers who are still on the fence about which dealership to buy from.

While COVID-19 continues to disrupt life around the UK, CarGurus is committed to helping dealers through it all. Numerous useful resources have been compiled in one easy to access section of our Dealer Resource Centre. Click here to visit Driving Difference.

*CarGurus shopper surveys with 1,000-2,000 respondents, 2019

**BrightLocal, 2019

Topics: covid-19, reputation management, reviews, Top Rated Dealer