Most things we do these days are powered by online reviews. Where we go, how we get there, what we eat – but most of all, the things we buy.
92% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. Reviews can produce an average 18% increase in sales. Add in the SEO benefits that come with them and you can see why consumer brands are starting to develop dedicated review strategies.
But what about cars?
Over in the UK, Kia crafted a whole campaign around customer reviews. As the camera pans over the body slowly, a voice-over tells viewers that “reviews and recommendations are worth more than anything we could say ourselves.”
Kia is spot on! Customer reviews are more trusted than marketing material. Consumers are more likely to trust other consumers. Why should it be any different for cars?
When it comes to selling cars, dealership online reviews have never been more important.
80% of millennials said they plan on buying a car or truck in the next five years according to a CDK Global study. A separate report from Autotrader indicates that, over the next decade, millennials will buy 40% of all new vehicles sold.
The CDK Global study showed millennials spend more than 17 hours shopping for cars online, before they even head to the first dealership. 82% of them visit third-party ratings and review sites first of all.
So why aren’t more automotive retailers using reviews as part of their digital marketing strategy to sell cars? Are they afraid of the power of a bad review?
They don’t need to be.
Bad reviews can be good for your dealership. It makes sense: consumers value reviews because they trust the unedited opinions of peers rather than the more polished patter of sales assistants.
- Bad reviews convince people to buy
68% of people trust reviews when they see both good and bad scores. Five times as many customers actively look for bad reviews as good ones.
People aren’t looking for a reason not to buy – they’re doing research to confirm they’re making the right choice. People expect that you’ll get a few bad reviews; it’s the nature of business. They’re just making sure that what you might have slipped up on isn’t a deal breaker (and most times it isn’t).
These potential consumers stay much longer on the site than other visitors. Less than one per cent leave the site after reading a bad review.
- Bad reviews aren’t actually that frequent
In an average year, only 6% of everything we cover has a bad average score (under 6/10).
Why is that? First off, people aren’t naturally mean spirited: they don’t want to leave bad reviews.
Second, it’s all about the collection process. Most of the people who are motivated enough to return to your website to leave a review are those who are angry. That means unhappy customers will dominate and skew your star ratings.
If you collect passively (like by just having a ‘write a review’ button on your website and hope people come and do it), 26% per cent for reviews are likely to be bad, while 74% are good. If you go out of your way to solicit a review once people buy (like by sending them an email with a link to an online questionnaire), you’ll only get the 6% we mentioned before.
- Bad reviews mean good feedback for your dealership
Bad reviews can provide useful feedback. This can be used to help you improve everything from marketing to customer service.
If you ask the right questions, reviews let you observe how customers use the car: how they fold down seats to fit bikes in, how they use glove compartments to store their things, how they can – or can’t – fit three dogs and a mattress in the back.
And those little details are exactly what’s going to help you sell the car, next time you’re speaking to a dog lover, a keen biker or anyone else.
- Bad reviews give your dealership a chance to prove how great you are
A negative review is a great opportunity to convert the unconvinced into brand advocates.
Responding promptly and publicly to negative feedback doesn’t only boost your brand equity with the disappointed reviewer – it also shows to all those about to buy that you’ll look after them after.
Service is an increasingly important to shoppers. Competing on service means that you don’t have to focus solely on price.
So, I hope we’ve shown that there’s nothing for dealerships to fear from bad reviews, particularly if they’re using the right collection methods.
Online reviews give your dealership a way to speak to a new generation of car buyers and start a dialogue with your consumers.
Join me for Bad Reviews Are Good for Business at the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Expo, where I’ll share the surprising benefits of negative reviews, and how you can transform criticism into extra sales.
Author: John Gray
John Gray specializes in new business sales and breaking into new markets, with a focus in the automotive industry. He heads up Reevoo’s Automotive sector working with car manufacturers and larger dealership groups around the world. He developed a proposition that was successfully sold into the UK automotive market, and now spends his time building up business overseas. Under John’s leadership, Reevoo Automotive has 16 car manufacturers signed up across Europe, North America, Australia, the Middle-East and Africa. Furthermore, the dealership side of the business is growing rapidly both within the UK and overseas, representing 34 car brands.