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Online reputation is car dealers' key lockdown 'opportunity', says CarGurus

Wendy Harris, vice president of European sales at CarGurus

CarGurus has hailed online reputation management is a key ‘area of opportunity’ for car dealers during COVID-19 lockdown as its research revealed that half of consumers choose a dealer based on online reviews.

Feedback collacted from various CarGurus shopper surveys of between 1,000-2,000 respondents showed that nearly 70% of car buyers will always check online reviews before contacting a dealer, underlining the importance to impress online customers during the lockdown.

The same study revealed how impactful a positive online reputation can be for attracting customers, with a quarter of respondents voting reputation as the number one factors when choosing their car.

The research also showed it’s a growing trend, with third-party research identifying the age 18 to 34 age bracket as most likely to be influenced by online reviews.

And 91% of this age group place as much trust on online reviews as on word of mouth, according to the research.

Wendy Harris, vice president of European sales at CarGurus, said: “Dealer reviews are an important part of the search experience for buyers, and a terrific opportunity for dealers to showcase their customer service and build trust with buyers online.

“At a time when there is less opportunity for dealers and consumers to interact face-to-face, we believe online reputation becomes an even more important part of a consumer’s consideration. Now is a good time to be thinking about online reputation management, which is why we’ve assembled these tips for dealers.”

CarGurus Top Rated Dealer Top Tips for Online Reputation Management

Encouragement

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 customers (in the UK) 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.

Monitoring

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.

Responding

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.

Using reviews

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.

CarGurus has compiled numerous resources for dealers to help them through the pandemic, you can access them via the Dealer Resource Centre.

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