While setting up some new dealer marketing audits, I noticed a growing trend that will only become a bigger challenge for dealers. Introduced in August of 2017, Google’s “Questions & Answers” can be a helpful opportunity for dealers, but in many cases ends up being a runaway detractor on a dealer’s Google My Business Page.
What is Questions & Answers? It is an above-the-fold, consumer-facing function similar to the Q&A feature on Amazon, Trip Advisor and others, that allows anyone to pose questions and answers about the business. Questions & Answers lives on the dealer’s Google My Business page and is visible every time a shopper searches on Google for the dealership’s name. If dealers are monitoring this page, they can answer the questions, but most dealers don’t monitor and leave the asking and answering to online consumers. Ideally the questions would be helpful ones that a shopper might really have, but for many of the dealers I reviewed, they were simply online reviews or worse, opportunities for shoppers (or rogue competitors) to bash the dealership.
While dealers and other businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars monthly on managed SEO, paid search, they are not paying enough attention to their Google My Business page, and Questions & Answers creates another compelling reason to start paying attention. In searching for examples for this article, I looked on Google Maps in a number of large metros, for a number of large brands. I found it very difficult to find a dealer who did NOT have one or more Questions & Answers. A survey by Get Five Stars showed that 35% of dealers on Google Maps have questions, I think this number is far understated.
Here are a few of the examples I found of runaway Google Questions & Answers for dealers. You can see in some cases it is someone bashing the store, but in other cases they are missed sales opportunities:
In the example below, if the question and answer has been “liked” by anyone, it appears directly on the dealer’s Google My Business page, making it even more damaging.
On a positive note, here is a great example from Davis Chevrolet in Houston Texas, who monitors Questions & Answers, and turned this into a sales opportunity:
Unfortunately, unlike Google Reviews, the alerting system for Q&A is nearly non-existent for the business owner. Supposedly, if you have an Android phone, logged into your Google My Business account, it will send you the alert. Ironically, consumers are notified automatically. Any consumer who has in the past left you a review on Google, will be prompted to answer a new question that was posed by another consumer on your Google My Business page. The good news is that there is a flagging system in case the dealership sees any inappropriate content posted. The dealer can simply notify Google to review and remove as it violates their guidelines: http://bit.ly/FlagQA
My advice for dealers and other businesses? Embrace the change. Just like when online reviews began appearing many years ago, you can’t fight transparency. Instead you should monitor Questions & Answers the same way you monitor your online reviews, answer the questions professionally, and quickly flag inappropriate ones.
Author: George Nenni
With three decades of IT and automotive experience, George Nenni educates the automotive industry about emerging technology by writing, speaking and sharing his vision for how dealers can maintain a competitive edge. George has spent countless hours over his automotive career with dealers training them in-store on best practices, software applications, and with adoption of new technologies. He not only trains on software implementation and usage, but also consistency in platform-level process and associated accountability. Today George is principal consultant with Generations Digital, providing digital marketing consulting to automotive retailers. He also is an adviser to T3, providing consulting to automotive vendors.