Reviews are Important …Let’s Start Talking Numbers

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 Ryan@dealerrater.com.

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