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Harnessing the power of online reviews

By Justin Di Vilio

After work last week, I stopped at my local grocery store for that night’s dinner. As I put everything on the conveyer belt and pulled out my wallet to pay, the cashier asked me if I had found everything I needed. I said yes. Without missing a beat, she handed me a small, brightly colored piece of paper that asked me to leave a review about my experience. She told me that if I left a review within 24 hours, I’d be entered to win a gift card, adding, “If you’d mention my name, I’d really appreciate it.”

My local grocery store had picked up on an important trend in retail marketing: the need for online reviews and customer feedback. Nearly 90 percent of shoppers have said they trust peer reviews, while only 14 percent trust traditional advertisements (Nielsen). That means it’s now more important than ever that shoppers can find customer reviews long before they walk in-store.

If your reviews feel dated, or there just aren’t many of them, keep reading for three simple ways you can give your dealership’s online reputation a boost with reviews that resonate with online shoppers.

Make it easy. Think about where you want your customers to leave reviews. A few obvious choices may be your dealership’s website, Facebook page or Google Plus page. Don’t give your customers homework, instead offer them easy ways to access your preferred review sites. Include social links in email campaigns, give your reviews an easy-to-find space on your website, and share with customers where they can leave reviews on your social platforms.

Just ask. You’ve invested a great deal of time engaging with your customers and making sure they walk out happy. Don’t be afraid to leverage that happiness and ask them to share it with others. At the end of a sale, ask customers to visit your preferred website and let others know about their experience. Chances are high that they’ll leave a review, and you’ll gain the trust of customers who haven’t even walked in the door yet.

Give an incentive. The relationship your employees have made with your customers is a powerful resource. Give your team a reason to ask customers for their feedback. Run a simple contest that rewards the employee receiving the most reviews mentioning their name with a gift card to a local store or restaurant. Provide your team with small flyers to pass out, and share the message on your social channels to support their effort.

When you’re ready, take it a step further and provide a small incentive to your customers (gift cards, discounts or free apparel) for leaving honest feedback about their experience. Remember my trip to the grocery store last week? Just a few hours after my visit I went to my grocer’s Google Plus page, and left a glowing review. It only takes a few simple steps to make customers feel heard, employees feel appreciated and generate reviews that will help drive more the online and in-store traffic.

For more information on ARI and their products and services that help dealers with their digital marketing and online presence management, reach out to Justin Di Vilio - business development manager for ARI’s marine division, at 414.973.4460 or by email at Justin.DiVilio@arinet.com

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