Monthly Archives: February 2011

Where Most Reputation Management Plans Fall Short

We’re all hearing the buzz about Reputation Management, and for good reason. At the recent NADA show, many existing vendors and some new ones were displaying their new wares and promising to help dealers manage their reputations.
Why is Reputation Management suddenly so important? With the dramatic changes Google put into place last fall, you can no longer have effective SEO (search engine optimization), without a strong reputation. Google has decided that dealers with more reviews, and more positive “star ratings” are more relevant, and thus belong at the top of the search results. This literally-overnight change by Google should have dealers asking their web site providers, “What are your plans for Reputation Management?”. If your SEO provider gives you excuses or doesn’t have strong solutions, run in the opposite direction. Effective SEO requires effective Reputation Management, that is an established fact.
So how do you decide what is the best solution or plan for Reputation Management? You should focus on 3 core items, Profile, Track, Influence.
Profile is all about controlling and distributing your content across the web, and the primary place to start is on your Google Places page. Simply enter your store’s name in Google, find your “Places” page, click to take ownership of this page, then start filling in the content. You can add descriptions, pictures, videos, coupons, and much more.
Track refers to tracking your reputation across the web, knowing when someone says something good or bad about your store. Remember, if someone posts something bad, it is not the end of the world! The most important thing you can do is post your response. Your response should be professional and helpful, apologizing for the issue and committing to make it right. By responding, you show the internet community that while everyone may have an unhappy customer, you are the type of dealership who cares enough to respond and fix problems. I might argue that by initiating this “save”, it can be almost better than a neutral or positive review.
And finally, Influence…and if you’ve read this far, this is reason I wrote this article. You will likely find many solutions that can monitor your reputation, but almost none of them can help you do anything about it! It is not enough for the doctor to tell you your cholesterol is over 300, you need to know what you can do about it…and you need some help getting it done. Influence is where you take your measly 2-star rating, and pump it up to a 5-star rating. Your goal is to get happy customers to give you a positive rating. You don’t have to worry about the unhappy customers, they will give you that review on their own, depending on how unhappy they are. But since you know you have many more happy customers, you need your online reviews to reflect this. The problem is, happy customers just drive off with smiles on their faces, but don’t take action. You need to prompt them to give you a positive review, and you need to do it in a simple and hassle-free way. I would argue that the easiest way for someone to give you a positive review is by simply clicking on an email link. The dealer follows up each sale (new cars, used cars, service, parts, etc.) with a simply email survey, that prompts the customer to give you a review.
By following this advice (and by keeping your store’s customer service high!), you will see your ratings climb in both quantity and star-rating, and you will also see your Google relevance rise along with it. The will translate into higher traffic for your website, more leads, more sales, and solid sustainable growth for your business.