Where specifically are car buyers going to look for such information online? And, more importantly, once you know where they are how can you join (or even lead!) the conversation?

It is not surprising that the majority of today’s tech-savvy consumers rely on online review sites and social media to complete research before selecting an auto dealership. In fact, a quick online search for dealerships with good reviews can result in potential customers completely passing by your dealership if you either do not exist online or don’t have positive reviews.

Car buyers have easy access to dealership review sites and social media pages to help them decide where to buy. A dealership’s online reputation influences whether or not consumers will consider shopping there.

Digital Air Strike’s study of over 2000 recent car buyers discovered that 74% of prospective car buyers would drive 20-60 miles to a dealership with good online reviews. Moreover, ninety-one percent of survey takers utilized social media and review sites to choose a dealership.

Therefore, when a customer shows up at your auto dealership, chances are that by the time the customer arrives, he or she  already knows a whole lot about your dealership and even your inventory. It is commonplace and expected for potential buyers to complete an extensive online search prior to ever stepping foot on your dealership.

 

Find Your Customers

91% of your potential car buyers are grounding their dealership selection on independent dealership review websites. These websites can be a great place to start.

Purchasing a car is a big decision, and car buyers should invest time researching dealerships and cars.

The leading independent dealership review site is Cars.com, which is one of the most cited sources of influence on car buyers. The site offers tools that dealerships can use to connect with car shoppers and promote specific inventory.

It’s important to reach out to and connect with users on independent research sites because most of these site visitors have not yet selected a dealership — or even a make and model of their future vehicle.

Furthermore, having a presence on automotive marketplace and review sites is necessary for independent and BHPH dealerships to compete with large franchise dealerships.

A consumer searching on Cars.com for a four door sedan under $13,000 is not going to discriminate based on the type of dealership. Dealerships are able to post detailed product descriptions, photos, and showcase good reviews on car review sites. Use online search to your benefit and reach car shoppers miles and towns away.

Connect with Your Customers

Now that you know where your buyers are searching for information, it’s time to interact with them. By having a presence on online review sites, you can engage with car buyers, lead friendly discussions, and ultimately influence where and what vehicle they purchase.

 

Auto Review Websites:

Below are a few tips to keep in mind when showcasing your dealership and connecting with potential customers on dealership and auto review sites:

  1. Post high-quality photos. This may seem obvious, but if a consumer is searching for a specific car and gets 20 results, they will skip over the ones without pictures. The more photos that provide a 360 view of a vehicle, the better.
  2. Add a listing price. Some automotive marketplace sites let you leave out the listing price, but consumers will be less likely to take the time to call your dealership when there are other similar listings with prices.
  3. Respond quickly to online reviews. You will want to assign this responsibility to an employee in your automotive CRM so that positive reviewers can be thanked and problems fostering any negative reviews can be efficiently resolved.

Apart from auto review sites, buyers are heavily influenced by their friends – and this includes friends linked via social media. People are more likely to trust a review from a friend than an anonymous stranger on a review site.

 

Social Media:

Social media is a powerful tool that your dealership can use to get a leg up on the competition. A 2015 Harris Survey found that 35% of Millennials said they would be in the market for a car within the next year, compared to only 25% of U.S. adults. Millennials have a huge presence on social media, and while they may not directly search for dealerships or cars on Facebook or other social sites, these can be great channels to connect with potential buyers.

Now would be a great time to build a Facebook page for your dealership if you do not have one already. If you do, encourage your buyers to go to your Facebook page for information and spark discussions. Their experience when visiting your dealership’s page should mirror the experience they will have visiting your physical location. An up-to-date and active page will engage buyers and help convince them to book an appointment with you.

Google

Years ago, it was commonplace for customers to research dealerships in the library or yellowpages. Enter the information age. With the immediacy of the internet, the first stop for consumers is now Google. With billions of searches each day and 75% of the U.S. market share, Google is the leading online search engine. With the right keywords on your website, your dealership can show up in the results. Curious as to what your dealership’s customer are searching for? Check out our list of keywords for used car dealerships below.