By Ryan Leslie
There has been a lot of recent talk about how important reviews are to consumers, but limited quantifiable data to support these anecdotal claims. In this article, I’ll like to start talking numbers and share some of interesting data to help reinforce the critical importance of review collection and associated word-of-mouth marketing in 2013.
The data is based on a DealerRater-commissioned blind sampling of 3,500 dealers nationwide to look at review counts and penetration of reviews on the most notable third-party review sites. Note: this sampling was done following the August 2012 scrub of Google reviews. In summary:
Google + Cars.com + YELP + Edmunds + Yahoo! Local = 74,000 reviews
DealerRater = 79,000 reviews
Why do these numbers prove to be so interesting?
As a baseline, there were 1.14 million cars sold in the month of November 2012. According to Reuters, this was a 5-year high for November and a 15% increase over October. During that same period of time, there were 1.4 million unique views of DealerRater review content through various distribution channels. Hence, if DealerRater is tracking 286,000 more unique views than cars sold over a period of time, the odds are very favorable that dealerships’ prospects are actively reading review content pre-purchase.
With all of the new and exciting social media tools and shiny things on the horizon for 2013, please don’t lose sight of the importance of review collection and review marketing to your business.
• Customers demand trust before they enter the purchase funnel and more of their purchase decision is made outside of the dealership than ever before. This is what the ZMOT principle is really all about.
• If customers don’t see that they can trust you online, you won’t see them in your dealership. And perhaps unfairly, car sales personnel have an extra challenge when it comes to their online reputation. On Dec. 3rd, 2012 GALLUP released their latest poll data ranking 22 professions for perceived honesty and ethical standards. Sadly according to this poll, consumer perception of automotive sales personnel is rather bleak, ranking lower than lawyers, stockbrokers and even Members of Congress.
• On average, today’s customer will read 10 reviews about your dealership before making a buying decision. Statistics show that 72% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Today it is more vital than ever to have a process in place to build and proactively leverage customer reviews.
Positive reviews that are marketed well are the gateway to future appointments and sales in 2013.
Ryan Leslie, Director of Dealer Reputation Strategy at DealerRater can be reached at [email protected].