By Joe Iribarren
The lyrics "I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation" sounded fun and rebellious when Joan Jett sang them. But adopting that attitude when it comes to your dealer's online reputation will prove to be disastrous.
Your online reputation consists of more than a carefully-thought-out website and social media posts. For the most part, your online reputation is something you can control. Here's what you need to know to manage it successfully.
Your Online Reputation Elements
Your reputation online is the sum of everything shown and said about your dealer on the web. All of the following play a role in creating your reputation:
- Online reviews from your customers
- Your dealership's web listings
- Testimonials and social proof
- Your social media pages and posts
- The quality and design of your website
- The blog section of your website
You can have the best website in the world, but if you're not managing your online reputation, you're likely losing out on a lot of sales.
Get a Grip on Your Online Reputation
Start with a reputation audit. That means Googling your dealership to get into the nitty-gritty of what people are saying about your brand.
Go to Google and scroll at least through the first five pages of results. Visit any websites that mention your dealer and read what they are saying. Make note of any inaccuracies or negative comments. You'll need those notes down the line.
Track your social media mentions, too. If you don't know what people are saying about you on Twitter or Instagram, you're likely allowing incorrect or harmful information about your dealership to circulate.
Make a list of all review websites where consumers have left reviews of your dealership. Audit your NAP listings so you can standardize them and consolidate your online presence. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number – the standard search engines use to identify your dealership across different online directories.
Claim Your Listings on Review Sites
Visit all review sites where your dealer appears and do whatever is needed to claim your listings. The process can be involved, so start as soon as possible. Be sure each of your locations has a listing of its own.
Once you have claimed your listings, you should:
- Update all relevant information
- Create compelling descriptions
- Add inside and outside pictures of your store(s)
Now it's time to set up a system for responding to all reviews – positive and negative. Negative reviews can cause real problems if you don't respond to them promptly and professionally. Every negative review is an opportunity to show potential buyers how you mitigate conflict.
Get More Reviews
Reviews play a huge role in your reputation. According to Search Engine Journal, more than 80% of all consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Make it a priority to encourage customers to leave reviews.
Here are a few creative ways to get more reviews:
- Create an email sequence to ask customers for reviews and include links to one or more review sites – but not more than three
- Provide a review template which will make it easier for customers to leave reviews
- Get involved with charities – it's likely that those on the receiving end will say positive things about your dealership
- If a customer expresses gratitude, thank them and ask if they've left a review
- Respond to all reviews; customers are more likely to leave a review when they know the business regularly responds to reviews
- Incentivize your employees to ask for reviews
- Send a handwritten note asking for a review
- Offer a freebie when you ask for a review
Many of the same rules apply to testimonials. The best time to ask for a testimonial is when you know the customer is likely to be highly satisfied.
Make Reputation Management a Priority
The key to keeping a strong online reputation is to make managing it a priority for yourself and your employees. That means doing the following:
- Creating high-quality, relevant content for your website and social media pages
- Regularly engaging and interacting with your followers
- Having a system in place to periodically request reviews and testimonials
- Monitoring your social media mentions and respond when it's appropriate to do so
- Responding to all reviews, good and bad, in a professional manner
- Keeping up with technological advances; accepting mobile payments is a great example
- Asking your online followers for their opinion and listening to their concerns
- Regularly showing appreciation for your most loyal customers and incentivizing them to become brand ambassadors
You can't control every aspect of your online reputation, but you can control most of it. Take an active interest, engage with your followers, make their satisfaction a priority, and your reputation will experience a significant boost.
Your online reputation plays a significant role in your success. A few minutes a day can help implement procedures that will ensure your online reputation stays healthy and will help you attract new buyers while retaining loyal customers.
Joe Iribarren is the principal and founder of Beyond Creative; a Florida-based digital marketing firm that specializes in serving motorsports, RV, and marine dealers. He is a long-time boater, fisherman and watersports enthusiast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org