Online Reviews and Your Reputation

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Recently at a CARSTAR conference, I heard Mike Anderson say that Google reviews are the most important piece of a shop’s marketing plan. There were several other pieces, of course, needed to fill out a solid marketing strategy but reviews—and Google reviews, in particular—must be central to any shop’s plan.

Why is this? The short answer: Reviews are today what word-of-mouth has been in years past—but way more far reaching. Think of it this way: A 16-year-old with an iPhone can literally come into your shop, have a good (or bad) experience and, within a few seconds, post a review that will permanently become a part of your online reputation. That review will instantly be visible to thousands and even tens of thousands of your potential customers forever. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s true.

I think I recently unlocked the pathway to getting a lot of great reviews very fast. I will share an offer with you at the end of this column, but first, stay with me while we dig into some bad news and data that’s important to wrap our minds around.

Sometimes the review game just doesn’t feel fair. Like yesterday, we got a one-star review and there was no commentary left and the name doesn’t even match a customer for which we did work. I went to check on this person online and it looks like they just surf the Internet leaving random one-star reviews with no commentary or evidence that they even utilized the businesses they reviewed. And to make matters worse, Google has named them a “local guide,” presumably because they leave a lot of reviews! And while I’m at it, some more bad news: It takes four five-star reviews to dilute that one bad review to get the average back up over 4.0 stars.

Local reviews are also a major driver of how your shop ranks on search engines. Nobody except a few mysterious people who control the search engine algorithms know exactly how much it factors in, but we do know that it matters. A lot.

Here’s some interesting data I found from Duct Tape Marketing’s website: 91 percent of people read online reviews. Last time I checked, over 90 percent means almost everyone!

Eighty-four percent of people trust online reviews as much as friends. It truly is the new word-of-mouth!

Sixty-eight percent of people form an opinion after reading 1-6 online reviews. That’s pretty fast! If doesn’t take a lot of reviews to influence potential customers’ behaviour.

Fifty-four percent of people read online reviews before buying from a local business. That means over half of your potential customers will read what others have to say about your shop before they decide to call or come in for an estimate.

Sixty-three percent of the time, Google’s three-pack contained the business with the most reviews. While it only takes a few reviews to influence potential customers, for the best search engine boost, overall review volume matters! Google’s three-pack is like the holy grail of online influence.

So, here’s the offer: I’ve written a short white paper on “My 10 Best Strategies for Body Shops to Win with Online Reviews.” I’d be happy to send that to you if you reach out via email and let me know you want it.

Until next time, here’s to you getting many, many great reviews!  

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