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Half of car buyers choose a dealer from online ratings

More than half of car buyers rely on online customer ratings when selecting a car retailer to buy their next car from, CarGurus has said.

The online marketing platform said that a study of customer behaviour conducted among over 1,000 respondents found that nearly 70% of car buyers always check online reviews before contacting a dealer with 91% of 18-to-34-year-olds placing as much trust on online reviews as on word of mouth.

Amy Mueller, CarGurus’ vice-president of communications, said: “The growth of the internet and social media has made it easy for people to share their buying experiences – good and bad – with fellow consumers. As a result, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your online reputation.

“Customer reviews set the tone for how your dealership is perceived by future customers. They’re crucial drivers of new sales, and your dealership can’t overlook their importance.

“Every review is an opportunity to engage with your customers and build your reputation, so make sure you’re taking advantage.”

As part of its consumer study, CarGurus compiled a list of 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. 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 - Acknowledging reviews 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.

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