The Importance of Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are the modern day equivalent of good old fashioned word of mouth.  We’ve all been to that party or family event where a friend or family member has gone on about how good the new restaurant in town is, or how well their new barbecue works.  The truth is, it’s in our nature to pay attention to these stories.  It’s somehow easier for us to try something new, knowing that someone else has removed some of the risk for us. Online reviews are no different.  In fact, according to this study, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.  This is the reason that reviews play such an important role in influencing our purchases or at the very least driving us to check out a website. Here are some guidelines to follow when seeking your own customer review success.

Look for opportunities to improve

On the surface it would appear that customer reviews mainly benefit other customers. While there is certainly truth to this statement, it’s really just one side of the story.   Customer reviews are also a fantastic source of information for your dealership.  In them, customers are giving you clues as to how your customer experience can be improved.  Be sure to pay special attention to patterns.  For example, several customers mentioning the same issue is a sure sign that there is an opportunity to improve.

Ask and you shall receive

Not getting very many reviews?  Try making a point of asking customers to write a review on Google.  It’s been proven that 7 out of 10 people will leave a review for a business when asked. You can have fun with this by setting a goal for yourself or your team. Try obtaining at least 3 reviews a week.  In no time you will have dozens.

How to handle negative reviews

Negative reviews should not be feared.  They should be looked at as an opportunity for your dealership to shine.  It’s important to engage with the customer that left the negative review as quickly as possible.  Also, make sure your first touch point with them is private, as opposed to trying to fix the issue publicly.  Start by thanking the customer for their feedback, then acknowledge their frustration and proceed to offer a resolution.  The goal should be not only to fix the issue, but to do so in a way that they are truly impressed with the resolution.  After handling the issue privately, you can proceed to respond to the negative post publicly.  First acknowledge the issue and then describe the resolution that took place.  Onlookers will likely be impressed with how the issue was handled and you may also find that the original one star review turns into a higher rating.

Make it a process

To truly reap the rewards of customer reviews, you will want to create a process so that reviews are handled in a uniform manner.  Start by creating a process for asking customers to leave a review (think back to the goal of collecting three a week).  From there you want to ensure that all reviews are actively being scanned for opportunities to improve.  This may be something that can be done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  Lastly, you want to ensure a process is in place for handling negative reviews.  This should take priority.

Conclusion

Customer reviews are here to stay.  In fact, their influence on the success of a business is likely to grow even more as people find new ways to share their thoughts on new and existing platforms.  Take advantage of the opportunity to better understand your customers and therefore improve your business, all by staying connected with your customer’s feedback.

Leave your comments below on your experiences with customer reviews.

4 Practices of a Successful Business

All businesses want to emulate rock star companies like Facebook, Pixar, Google, and Amazon with their cool culture, free lunches, and bean bag chairs. We see the impressive profit statements and hear stories about the fun work environments and wish our organizations could be like theirs. But we need to ask – How did they become successful in the first place?  What did they do to set themselves apart from all the other companies out there?  Before you go out and buy a pool table for your dealership, check out these 4 practices of a successful business.

Know your customer

It’s critical to your business that you know your customer. Challenge yourself, and your teams to learn everything you can about your target audience or your ideal customer. This exercise will help you develop personas or groupings of customers with similar wants and needs. With this insight, you will be able to recognize challenges or problems that these customers commonly face and provide helpful solutions for them. Just like any relationship, the more you know about what makes the other person tick, the stronger the relationship can become.

Maintain high standards

This is how many big companies got to where they are today. Each touchpoint with a customer is an opportunity to demonstrate your dealership’s high standards. If problems or issues arise, it’s even more important to deliver on your promises to those customers.  They are the customers that, when won over, will become brand ambassadors for you.

Create personalized experiences

Once you are comfortable that you know your customer, you can begin to offer a personalized experience for them. This could be something as simple as paying attention to a customer’s preferred method of communication. Maybe they like getting a text when their car is ready.  Customers will equate your dealership’s brand with the experience that you offer them.

Create engaged employees

Maintaining high standards isn’t easy if the environment isn’t right. It’s important for employees to be recognized for their work and to feel appreciated. They also need to feel that you are investing in the progression of their knowledge.  Try creating ways to turn something that might be considered boring and “educational” into something that is just as informative but fun. Plus, you could always get that pool table.

 

For more on this topic, see “4 Strategies for Business Success (and One Company Getting It Right)” by Wade Harman

Private Right of Action Provision in Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

As you are likely aware, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), came into effect July 1, 2014. At that time, dealerships were encouraged to evaluate their customer databases and identify customers who they did not have express or implied consent for. When the legislation originally came into effect, there was a transitional rule that if a dealership had an existing business relationship with the customer, they would have 36 months of implied consent instead of the standard 24 months (6 months with inquiry).

Private Right of Action suspended

The final element of CASL, referred to as the Private Right of Action was set to come into effect July 1, 2017. However, on June 7th, 2017, the federal government issued an Order in Council delaying the private right of action until completion of a parliamentary review “in order to promote legal certainty for numerous stakeholders claiming to experience difficulties in interpreting several provisions of the Act while being exposed to litigation risk.”

Penalties still apply

While this delay will prevent customers from filing a lawsuit for damages individually or through a class action, dealerships still need to ensure they are compliant with CASL. As a reminder, the maximum penalties are $1Million for an individual and $10Million for a corporation.

What you can do to ensure your dealership is CASL ready

Your dealership should remain diligent in compliance with CASL. Here are some tips to follow, especially if you are unsure about your dealership’s current level of compliance:

  1. Identify privacy leaders for each department
  2. Perform an assessment of all the places where you currently collect consent – forms, surveys, etc.
  3. Conduct a deep-dive in your database to identify if there are any current prospects or customers for whom you don’t have consent; purge them!
  4. Implement technology to help track and maintain consent
  5. Develop and implement a CASL compliance policy and train all staff

If you’re looking for CASL training for your dealership or business, we can help! SCI MarketView offers CASL training in several formats, including online based and in store. Contact us here.

AdWords for Your Dealership

Want to drive more traffic to your website and capture high quality leads? If so, you may want to consider using Google AdWords, a pay per click advertising platform, where you only pay when someone clicks your ad, which in most cases is a link to your company’s website or a very well designed landing page. Google AdWords works like an auction would; you, the business owner, would chose very specific search words that you believe customers would use when searching for companies or more specifically, a dealership like yours. You then assign a monetary value to each of those words and when the search is entered, the highest bidder’s website would appear ranked higher than the competition. The advantage of Google AdWords is that, unlike some traditional forms of advertising, you have a lot more control over budget, target audience and ROI. Check out the quick start guide below for more info.

Account setup

If you already have an account with Google, you can access Google AdWords using the same credentials. Alternatively, you can opt to create an account exclusively for AdWords.  Be prepared to have a payment method like a credit card handy to add to your account. Payments can be made either automatically or manually.

Establish your goal(s)

Determine what it is you want to accomplish with AdWords. For example, do you want to generate leads? Picking your goal early will help you later on when it comes time to creating your ad and configuring your account.

Pick you audience

Think about who you want to target. A good exercise is to develop “personas”. For example, females aged 38 – 48, have kids and most likely to research a vehicle on their phone. Creating personas or segments will allow your ad to be far more targeted and effective.

Keyword selection

The idea is to pick keywords that will attract a certain type of customer. The more specific your keywords are, the more likely you are to attract a very specific type of customer. For example, if you focus on the keywords “truck” as well as the “town/city” that your dealership is in, you will attract local traffic looking for a truck.  Google provides some tips on selecting keywords here.

Biding

Once you are happy with your keyword selection, the next step is to bid on your selected keywords. If you are on a tighter budget you may want to start with a lower bid or focus on niche keywords. Don’t let a small budget deter you.  Start slow and increase your budget when you start to get comfortable.

Create your ad

When creating your ad, think back to your goal(s) and the personas that you created. Create the messaging as if you are speaking directly to this group. Focus on your headline and a strong call to action. Also take advantage of using emotion to capture attention and spur action.

Create a landing page

You want to make sure that when someone clicks your ad, they are being taken to a page that gives them clear and detailed information. Use high quality images a ton similar to your ad. You also want to make sure your landing page is optimized for your goal. For example, if your goal is to generate leads, you want to make sure that you have a form where people can request a price or more info. Learn more about optimizing forms here.

A/B Testing

Always challenge your results by creating alternate ads. Something as simple as changing your headline or call to action can have a dramatic impact on your results. Keep the stronger of the two ads and then challenge that ad with a new version the next month.

 

The great thing about Google AdWords is that is scalable. If you want to get really fancy and spend a lot of money, you can do that!  But, on the flip side, if you are hesitant about jumping into digital advertising, you can get started with a budget as small as one dollar a day. Now put on your advertising hat and get started!

How to Optimize the Forms on Your Website

You likely spend a lot of time, effort and money driving people to your dealership’s website in the effort to convert them from browsers to customers. Engagement however, often starts with them filling out a form which for many potential customers, is annoying and cumbersome.  Our advice – make sure that the forms on your website are optimized for lead generation.

Make them attractive

Try changing the colour of your forms. Use blue, green and orange to inspire trust or to motivate. Also focus on positioning your forms where they will be seen. Don’t hide them in the corner but place them where they are easily seen.

Form fields

More is less. How often have you opened a form only to close it because there were just too many fields to fill out?  Your customers will react no differently.  Try to collect only the information that you absolutely need. For example, if you want to sign people up for a newsletter, you really only need their email.  For longer forms like credit apps, you will need to use more fields, but still, only ask for what you really need to process the app.

Conditional logic

Using this neat feature in your forms will allow customers to skip out on questions that are not relevant to them. For example, if someone answers “no” to a given question on the form, other non-relevant fields will automatically disappear.  This feature is great for surveys as well.

Abandoned forms

The reality is some forms get abandoned. Always make sure to review these partially submitted forms to gain insight into what stage the form is typically being abandoned. You might discover that one of your fields is creating a roadblock to completion so it’s best to review and revise.

AB Testing

Try making at least two versions of the same form and then compare the submissions that each one generates. One will generally reap better results, so keep that one from that pair and repeat this process again when you want to improve further.  A B testing is common practice when you want to see which of two possible options will procure better results.

Forms can be a pain, but they don’t have to be. Follow these simple guidelines and you will be well on your way to turning your forms into serious lead generating machines!

For more on this topic, check out “Six Building Blocks of a High-Converting Lead Generation Form” by Ashley Walsh – MarketingProfs

How to Create an Online Giveaway

Let’s face it, we all love free stuff. That’s why online giveaways work.  Besides stirring up excitement, online giveaways are a great opportunity for your dealership to increase traffic, boost social media engagement and pull in more revenue.

Here’s the catch. They need to be planned and executed properly to be successful. Follow the rules below and you will be well on your way to reaping the rewards of a successful online giveaway.

Define your goal

Before getting started you need to determine what your goal is. This will help lay the groundwork for other parts of your strategy.  Here are some common goals:

  • Gain new email subscribers to your newsletter or email marketing list
  • Increase social media engagement
  • More social media followers

Choose a prize

Try to choose a prize that is relevant to your dealership. This is important because you want to ensure that the leads you are collecting are qualified. For example an outdoor equipment store would get the best results from giving away camping gear or something related.

Make the prize match the entry

Try to make the entry requirements match the prize that you are giving away. For example, if you are giving away a free oil change, don’t ask participants to fill out long forms or submit photos. On the other hand, you can ask more from a person who is entering a giveaway for a vehicle.

Consider bundling prizes

People tend to be attracted to prizes that include multiple items. Consider doing this especially when the overall value of the prize is of “lower value”.

Consider offering multiple prizes

People know that the odds of winning the grand prize are pretty low. To avoid having people skip out on your contest, try offering multiple smaller prizes in addition to the main prize.

Contest duration

According to research conducted by kontestapp.com, the ideal duration for your contest is either 25 or 60 days. 25 days is an excellent starting point to ensure people stay engaged and to maximize the number of entries you receive.

Create a landing page

Make sure your contest landing page is eye catching and informative.  Use enticing images and clearly define the prize(s) and rules of the contest.

Collect the right information

Make sure you are asking for information that will help you transition entrants into your sales funnel. If you don’t have enough information you won’t be able to effectively communicate with them later. Also don’t ask for information that you won’t realistically use later.

Make a big announcement

When announcing the winner(s) be sure to gain brand exposure by taking photos with the winner(s) and posting on social media. This will also serve to show non winners that your contest was legitimate and increase the chances of them entering the next one.

Choose a platform

There are platforms out there that make running your giveaway a lot easier. Two options are Gleam and Rafflecopter.

Now that you are armed with some solid online giveaway guidelines, try creating your own contest. You might be surprised by how effective a giveaway can be at generating the results that you want.

For the full details on this topic please see “How to Do an Online Giveaway That Doesn’t Suck” by Neil Patel – QUICKSPROUT

The Missing Ingredient in Your Emails

Have you ever read an email or a newsletter that really captured your attention? One that made you want to keep reading and even take action? Chances are you experienced an emotional trigger.  If you add this missing ingredient to your emails, newsletters and campaigns, you too could capture your customer’s attention in the same way.

Emotional Triggers

The right trigger to use depends on the goal – driving website traffic, promoting a sale, brand awareness, etc. Try to pick the trigger most appropriate for the situation.  For example, guilt could be triggered in an email campaign designed to entice a reader to finally get that nagging repair fixed.

  1. Belonging: Make the reader feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.
  2. Hope: Create a sense of expectation.
  3. Guilt: Help the reader understand that they have the opportunity to make something right.
  4. Vanity: Flatter the reader with praise over their intelligence or smart decision making.
  5. Fear: Inform the reader of what they are in danger of if they don’t take action.
  6. Lust: Tug the heartstrings of the reader by waving a carrot of desire in front of them.
  7. Greed: Appeal to the reader’s want for wealth or power.

Structuring Your Message

For the emotional trigger to be effective, your message should be structured in a way that it includes these other elements:

Personalized details: Help make the communication more conversational and use their name if you can.

Real world problem: Present a solvable problem.

Emotional trigger: Pick the best option from above.

Solution: Present the solution to the problem.

Call to action: Encourage the reader to take action. For example “Click here to learn more”.

Subject line: Make it engaging and relevant to the topic of the email.

Perfecting the use of this strategy requires a little practice. Try different approaches/triggers and take note of what works best in each situation.

For more on this topic see “7 Emotional Triggers to Hook Your Subscribers” Janice Kersh – convinceandconvert.com

5 fundamentals for video success

More dealerships than ever are using video as a tool in their dealership. However, just like with any other tool, know-how is required to achieve results. Done properly, video is an amazingly effective sales tool and the ideal way to deliver a highly targeted and personalized message. Regardless of your dealerships level of experience, here are 5 fundamentals to consider before making your next video.

Purpose

It’s pretty easy to get carried away when creating a video. For this reason it’s best to keep it simple. Hone in on a single objective or purpose for the video and stick with it.  Here are some video types to consider:

Awareness – promoting your dealership as a brand

Engagement – first touch point with an internet lead

Retention – a potential alternative to the classic courtesy call

Product – vehicle demonstrations

Support – service tips or tricky tech features explained

Content

Establish who your intended audience is. Doing so will help you shape the content and messaging so that it speaks to that audience. For example, if you are creating an engagement video, keep it short and personalized. Think under a minute. A product demonstration, on the other hand can be longer. The audience for this video is expecting you to cover details and demonstrate some of the features, all of which takes time. Regardless of the video type, always keep the content on point and as engaging as possible.

Production quality

Try to match the production value to the video type. If you are shooting a short customer engagement video, any modern phone will be more than adequate. Consider boosting the production quality for awareness videos, longer videos and any video that has high replay value. This may mean investing in equipment or hiring outside help.

Distribution

After creating your video, the next step is to decide where you want it to be viewed and by who. Consider the video type, audience, production quality and length. A 4 minute product demonstration video would be well suited for YouTube but not necessarily Twitter where the audience is accustomed to short sound bites.

Measurement

A key aspect to any video content strategy is measurement. Tracking your metrics will allow you to make changes to your strategy and tailor the content to your audience’s preferences.  Here are some metrics to keep an eye on:

Impressions – the number of opportunities a person has had to view your video

Views – the number of times the video has been watched

Play rate – a measure of how enticing the video is (views divided by impressions)

Engagement rate - provides insight into how much of the video is being watched

What are you waiting for? Get out there and make some videos!

For further details on this topic and more, see Five Questions to Answer When Creating A Video Campaign by Chris Bondhus – marketingprofs.com

Technology vs Process

If technology and process went head-to-head in a battle which one would win? Would it be technology because of its ability to increase your efficiency and capability? Or would it be process because of its adaptability and repeatability? If you answered neither, you would be right. In fact, technology and process have to work together for either one of them to be effective.

Technology or process first?

In most cases it’s a good idea to implement your process first. Process defines what needs to be done, how it will be done and who will do it. For example, most dealerships have (or should have) a lead handling process that defines how a lead will be handled, from start to sale. It’s this process that defines the requirements of your technology.

Tips for getting the most out of process

Align with your goals: Make sure that your process is set up to achieve a specific goal. For example, your lead handling process is in place to turn leads into sales.

Keep it simple: In the end, a simple process is always easier to execute and leaves less chance of error. Remember, if you abandon the process you risk abandoning the sale.

Document it: A process that lives in your head will be lost if you ever leave the dealership. A key part of creating and implementing a process is documenting it so that it can be reviewed, passed on and revised.

Tips for getting the most out of technology

Align with your process: Look to your process to determine what kind of features or functions you need from your technology

Do your homework: Ask a lot of questions when shopping for your technology. Most importantly ask your potential vendor if their technology can carry out your process.

Avoid overbuying: Some product demos will leave you dazzled with advanced features and functions that you will supposedly “grow into”. Buy what you need today to avoid carrying the added cost of unused features.

Start 2017 the right way by making sure your processes and technology are aligned and ready to achieve your goals.

Need some guidance on honing in or creating a process? We can help.

For more information call us at 855-984-3360

Or email productinfo@scimarketview.com

Why People Love Brands

What makes someone LOVE a brand? And more importantly, how do you become a brand that someone LOVEs? This question was the focus of a recent study conducted by Accenture Interactive. This wide sweeping study was conducted over 18 months and involved over 27,000 participants living in the US, UK and Brazil.

Participants were surveyed on four industries which included Retail, Hospitality, Automotive and Banking. The results of the study revealed five key dimensions that best characterize a customer’s feelings towards a brand. Together these dimensions make up the “Love Index Score”.

5 dimensions of the “Love Index Score”

Fun – holds people’s attention in an entertaining way

Relevant – provides clear and customized information

Engaging – identifies with individual needs and wants

Social – Connects people with each other

Helpful – is efficient, easy, and adapts over time

Dimensions for Automotive

Although there are 5 dimensions, the study revealed that some dimensions were more relevant to customers depending on the industry. These are the dimensions that customers favoured the most within the automotive industry:

Relevant – keep your website and other online content up to date and easy to understand. Provide options to allow your customer to communicate or buy from you how they want

Engaging – be prepared to do business online and beyond traditional business hours

Helpful – make buying and servicing a car easy. This means looking into individual processes within the dealership to constantly improve the ease of the customer experience

Disruption

Just because certain dimensions are most relevant to an industry today, doesn’t mean that they will be tomorrow. Disruptors in any given industry usually come in and add a new dimension that changes the rules of the game. Look at Netflix as an example. They completely changed their industry. How did they do it? They gave customers an experience that is fun, engaging and helpful. Something that really wasn’t there previously and it’s what now sets them apart.

Is it possible that getting ahead of the competition is less about doing something better and more about doing something that isn’t being done at all? Wise words by General George S. Patton “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”.

Check out the full details of this fascinating study by Accenture Interactive: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-love-index