“They Came Highly Recommended!”: The Changes to Facebook’s Review System

Vector realistic isolated neon signs of thumbs up and down on the wall background. Concept of rating, network and social media.

Life used to be simpler, before social media democratized everything—including criticism. Now while this can be a good thing (in theory), allowing all consumers to have a voice is an incredibly difficult system to police. Arguably the most famous —slowly becoming infamous— review site Yelp has faced enormous criticism over what’s seen as a Mafioso-like approach that would leave Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola shocked and appalled. Everything from negative reviews about parking, to outright extortion. The pushback has been fierce, and Yelp has been the subject of countless articles, a 2017 documentary, and a 2015 episode of South Park—and if you’ve ever seen South Park, you know that you don’t want to be the subject of one of their episodes. Like many aspects of the digital world, advances come quick and changes come quicker. Facebook is leading the charge in this regard, and are changing their review system from a 5 star rating system into a new, recommendation system. But how will this affect your dealership? Continue reading ““They Came Highly Recommended!”: The Changes to Facebook’s Review System”

Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility

Trust banner and icons

For any business, credibility is key in maintaining a high level of customer service and, in turn, a high level of customer loyalty. This is especially important for the automotive sales industry, the long-time favourite butt of many a joke aimed at the quintessential “used car salesman” and his well-greased “what do I have to do to put you in this car today, sir-or-madam” approach to business. How then is a dealership best advised when it comes to building a reputation that the consumer will trust? Focusing on the area of online presence, this post will outline a few of the steps you should take (or, frankly should have already taken) to help ensure that the legend of the sleazy car lot doesn’t haunt your reputation on the net! Continue reading “Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility”

Reputation Sanitation and the Importance of Gold Stars and Good Responses.

reputation sanitation

In an increasingly interconnected world, a business’ online presence has never been more important. Your star-rating on Google or Facebook can have a real and deciding influence on consumers at a critical point in the purchase decision-making process. Sure, I might not be telling you anything you don’t already know, but don’t switch to YouTube just yet! While the weight that reviews and online ratings carry has long been touted as having a huge influence on a business’ performance in organic search results, and potential to translate into actual warm bodies in showrooms, what’s less intuitive is the finding that business review-response rates also improve paid-search performance. Plainly put, businesses that responded more often to reviews – lets call it reputation sanitation – saw higher conversion rates. Continue reading “Reputation Sanitation and the Importance of Gold Stars and Good Responses.”

Google’s Possum Update

Google's Possum UpdateHow significantly did the Possum update impact local search results in Google?

From the perspective of the local SEO results, Google’s most recent update was substantial.

Some major changes resulting from this update are:

1.  City Limits:
If a company’s brick and mortar location exists outside city limits, but most of its clients are within that city, it’s quite likely that search results have not been helpful to these businesses in the past. However, with the recent Possum Update, these issues have seemingly been fixed as city limits are playing a less prominent role in SERP. It is not yet confirmed whether or not Google Maps was given an update to accommodate this or if the search algorithm was tweaked. However, we do know progress is being seen.

2. Address Affiliation Filter:
In the past, the local algorithm filtered out local profiles that shared either a phone number or domain in order to weed out duplicates. In order for businesses to avoid being filtered out by Google in a situation like this, companies should provide a business license to Google, particularly if listings are negatively affecting their website rankings. This will distinguish the listing/domain from another business with the same address.

3. Location:
The new algorithm update is using IP address locations to ensure more detailed local results to nearby users. Further, Google has dedicated larger emphasis to location, which translates to the searcher’s location settings playing an increasingly large role in displaying and ranking which adds are viewable from which location.

For further information regarding Google’s Possum update, check out the link below!



Google My Business

Google My BusinessThis week, Strathcom had the chance to tour Google’s new office in Waterloo as well as hear what Google has planned in the coming years by the head of Google Canada – Sam Sebastian – and also attend some training on Google products. As a Premier Google  Partner and the largest partner in the Canadian automotive space, we find this training invaluable. Getting information from the horse’s mouth allows us to keep our clients’ campaigns top performing, and gives us insight into new strategies we can use to progress them even further. Not to mention, we can ask about our clients’ pain points, and that brings me today’s blog topic: Google My Business.

Google My Business is not a product to be bought/sold, but it is a roadblock that all of our clients have to go through. Having a well maintained Google My Business account is vital for any business. People want to know where you are located, see photos of your business (show people that renovation you just invested $1,000,000 in, for example), what your phone number is, what time you open, what time you close etc., and Google is where they go to get this information; being a business owner, you want them to find, and you want it to be accurate. Most dealers have a Google My Business account, but it has sat dormant for a while. The information is wrong and no one knows the login to change it. Here are the steps to regain access to your existing Google My Business account so those potential customers out there can find you.

Step 1: Sign In To/Create Your Google Account.

Use the same email you think was used to originally create the account, if you don’t know, a general account should be used, not an individual employee’s personal account.

Google My Business - Sign In


Step 2: Search for Your Business.
Find your Google My Business account by clicking here and search your business name.

Google My Business - Search You Business

Step 3: Select Your Business or Add It.

Google My Business - Select Your Business

Step 4: Enter Your Business Details
Choose the “Car Dealer” category, fill out as much information as possible.

Google My Business - Enter Business Details

Step 5: Confirm Your Information

Step 6: Verify Your Business

This is where people usually get hung up. Google has a manual process for verifying your business. For most businesses, Google is important to customer acquisition. You can imagine how many shady business owners try to go after their competitors Google My Business account, so there is a way around this: Google will send a postcard to your business with a code on it to enter into your Google My Business account page. Make sure to let your receptionist know the card is coming so they don’t throw it out with the junk mail.

All your information is now complete and accurate and will be updated across all Google properties.

When we visit Google offices around North America for training or meetings, the mind set is always the same – if it’s the user’s problem, it’s our problem – and Strathcom shares that ideal. The dealerships that also share this logic will find far more success than those that don’t. So make your potential customers life easy, and action this blog. Someone is on Google right now looking for a car, will they find you?

Leaving a Google Review Just Got Easier

We all know how important online reviews are, and Google just made it easier for users to leave reviews on your Google+ page.  Google+ accounts are no longer required for leaving reviews, and Google is now allowing users with just a Google account to leave reviews.  Users now have the ability to use either a Gmail or non-Gmail based account to post about their experiences.  The only requirement is users must display both their first and last name.

Your clients no longer need Google + to leave reviews!

This small change will make the review process easier, and will open the door for more of your customers to leave reviews!

The Importance of Dealership Reviews

Online reviews can have a major impact on your business.  They can increase rankings within local search engines, and be the deciding factors for consumers choose to shop at your business over another.  Here are some interesting and important statistics regarding the importance of having an online reputation:

  • 90% of consumers say online reviews have influenced their buying decision.
  • 92% of consumers trust online reviews as must as personal recommendations.
  • 80% of buyers are more likely to purchase from a local business with good reviews.
  • A 1 star increase in star ratings on reviews can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue.

Given the above statistics, asking consumers to review your business online is becoming increasingly more important.

Marketing Statistics

Here are some tips and tricks to start collecting those reviews:

  • Make it easy. Having reviews on multiple platforms like Facebook, Google, Reveiwsii, makes it easier for clients to use the platform of their choice.
  • Focus on Quantity over Quality. Not everyone is going to have a 5 star rating, consumers that see this will have an easier time believing that the reviews they are reading are true.
  • Ask buyers to post a review. Make it apart of your sales process to ask clients to leave a review base off of their experience.
  • Make sure you are actively responding to both Negative and Positive reviews. Consumers that notice this, will see that you care.

Use social media to your advantage, and gain an edge over the competition!

Remember, your customers will talk about you.  Why not let them share their experiences with the rest of the world?

Facebook Best Professional Service – What It Means To You

Facebook, being the largest social media network (with about 1.5 Billion active users) has always tried to close the gap between their users and other sites. The more they can roll into facebook the more time their users will spend on facebook. This is why it was no surprise when facebook took a giant leap in the reviews world by launching their new Best Professional Service site.

Facebook's new Best Professional Service is the latest tool at your disposal

Continue reading “Facebook Best Professional Service – What It Means To You”

2014 Western Canadian Dealer Summit: Al Awadia's "A Car Buyer's Journey"

“Digital marketing no longer exists; we are marketing in a digital world.” -Clive Sirkin

If you’ve never had the opportunity of seeing Al Awadia from Google speak, you are missing out. Aside from his cool and calm presentation demeanor and his slick slides, he is probably the smartest man in the room. Let’s take you through a highlight reel of Al’s presentation for the 2014 Western Canadian Dealer Summit, entitled “A Car Buyer’s Journey,” first developed for Google’s 2014 Think Auto Conference.

The 3 Phases of Buying

Buyers are spending time in three phases. What we need to understand is what they do in each phase, and how they shift between phases.

So what are the three phases?

  1. Thinking
  2. Researching
  3. Buying

Phase 1: Thinking

Typically, consumers spend 30 days in the thinking stage and consider three brands. But what takes them to the next step? Two of the strongest sources of ad stimuli that help consumers shift into the Researching phase are online video and television. Yes, people are watching video online; if you’re a dealer, or if you follow this blog even semi-regularly, this should not be news to you. This should be your prime area of focus. As for TV, let the OEM take care of that.

Phase 2: Researching

Once out of the Thinking stage, consumers are spending an average of 22 days in the Researching phase, and at this point they’ll still be considering three brands. Here consumers are using 26 research touch points (up from 24 in the previous phase) and 78% of these sources are online. Which are the most important? The OEM website, search, and your dealer site. Video is also used, and it’s on the rise!

Paid Search

Al spoke to the point that 97% of Canadians are using search—and it is a huge catalyst to get people moving—but only 46% of Canadian dealers are using search advertising. My first thought was to wonder how that breaks down between rural and metro dealers. If you’re using paid search as part of your strategy, you are definitely ahead of the curve.

Data with More Depth and Definition

When it comes to data, we know a lot more specifics about individuals now, too. Before we simply knew what it was that people were searching for, and then tried to make backwards inferences from there. Now we know what people are searching for, at what time of day, from what device, and from where! Basically, customers seek information for everything from anywhere and everywhere, including the dealership lot, and they are not always looking at your site. Think about relevancy in your search campaigns. Al used an example of someone searching for an F-150 in two different scenarios.

Scenario 1: Searching on a smartphone, 1 mile from dealership, 3:30pm in the afternoon.

Are you serving this customer the right ad? What does it need? Call now to talk to your local representative, click to call, proper extensions, directions.

Scenario 2: Searching from home, on a laptop, 11:14am in the morning.

What does this consumer get? Build and Price, Search Inventory, Promotions.


Relevancy: the right ad at the right time to the right person.

Search used to be about intent, now it is about context.

Phase 3: Buying

So when the consumer shifts to buying, they are spending 18 days and now have it narrowed down to two brands. In 35% of cases, though, a fourth brand that they were not originally considering pops up.  At this phase the Internet still plays the biggest role, but secondary to the internet in this phase is your dealership and the experience you are giving these customers.

Response time and quality of response matter. If you think auto-response emails and getting back to the customer a day later telling them to come on down is a good strategy, we have bad news for you:

  • 34% of people were not satisfied with the timeliness of the response that they received. That’s a full one third of your consumers. In addition to that, of that one third of dissatisfied customers who felt their wait was too long, 80% had heard back within a day.
  • 35% of people were not satisfied with the quality of response, either. So what do people want in a response? They want a faster reply, and they want you to answer their questions properly, without coming across manipulative or pushy.

The cost for a slow or incomplete response at this phase of the buying process is a lost customer. But what are the numbers behind this?

  • One out of three people are going to another dealership
  • One out of five are going to switch brands

What’s Your Number? Visiting Multiple Dealerships

One stat that seems to get thrown around more often than it should is the idea of how many dealerships people are visiting. We have heard anything from 1.2 – 1.9 and everything in between, and while I’m sure that the number lies somewhere in that range, here is what Al and Google had to say about it:

People are going to fewer dealerships:

  • 35% of people only visit one dealership
  • 27% of people visit two dealerships
  • 19% of people visit three dealerships
  • 19% of people visit four or more dealerships

One stat worth noting is that of the people visiting two, three, or four dealerships, 54% of them are visiting the same brand of dealerships.

People Want to Deal with Fewer People

So what are people looking for when they come into the dealership? Do they want you to be their best friend, directing and pushing them towards what you think they need? No.

  • 32% of people want a self-serve style experience. Like the government-controlled liquor stores of a bygone era, they want to hand you a piece of paper with what they want, sign for it, and drive away. Tesla anyone? (In an age where people would rather text than talk on the phone, does a further move away from face-to-face dealings still seem strange?)
  • 54% want you to act as a facilitator
  • Only 14% of people want the hand-holding type of experience

Consider this the age of the introvert. In 86% of the cases, people either want some help or want you to get out of the way. If they’re checking through the till or need something pulled down from a higher shelf, they’ll come find you. If not, just keep eliminating the friction.

What about Mobile?

All this talk and nothing so far about mobile? Well here we go.

It seems like every year for the past half-decade has been the year of mobile. Now 40% of car buyers use mobile for research, up 50% over 2013. Enough said?

And what do they expect on a mobile device? You need to make it easy for them. Can you auto detect their location? Can they click to call? Is the navigation simple, and can they just type in the bare minimum to find the information they’re after? Does your website consistently stay mobile or does it flip flop back to your desk top site?

Looking Ahead

A lot of great data, and a lot of things to consider — but that was 2014.

What does the future look like? Moving forward, people are asking for the ability to book a service appointment time online, test drive cars from home, buy parts online, and one day, maybe, buy their car online.

Cheer and Promoting at the Western Canadian Dealer Summit

Wynn Encore, Las Vegas: November 6–8

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold… No — that was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

We were packed into a business flight to Nevada when the $9-sandwich cart went past… That’s better.


Not long ago, Bill Warren and I left soon-to-be-frost-covered Edmonton to attend the Western Canadian Dealers Summit. But rather than the typical ticket to Toronto, the mecca of Canadian conference destinations, this time we were treated to a first-of-its-kind adventure to Las Vegas.

First off, we need to give a shout out to the MDA, SADA, and New Car Dealers of B.C., who worked together to put on a fantastic event and rolled boxcars in doing so.

Before we get into all the insights we took from the speakers, let’s give you the high-level highlights of the event:

Thursday got things kicked off with a sponsor-supported welcome reception where dealers hit the jackpot with a wicked food and drink spread. You expect everything to be more lavish in Las Vegas, and we weren’t let down.

Friday was Western Dealer Day at SEMA (enough said; SEMA gets its own post, coming soon); Search Optics also hosted a great bash, complete with a slick performance from three electric violin, classic-rock-playing ladies.

Then on to Saturday, where the dealers convened to listen to a world-class lineup of speakers. (Absent: Celine Dion, Blue Man Group, Tony Bennett, Siegfried, Roy.)


So what did we learn?

  • Grant Gooley from the Zanchin Automotive group began the events with an incredible presentation about the eco system that’s helping them to succeed online. No more inflatable gorillas — build some trust and transparency instead.
  • Eric Miltsch reminded us that as long as there are search engines, SEO is not dead; keep your focus on the local aspects of SEO.
  • Joe Webb, always a charismatic and entertaining speaker, explained to us the value of a great brand experience, using insights from Disney.

  • Yours truly, Duncan Cochrane (above), got a little more granular and presented dealers with cold, hard Canadian data on why you need to merchandise your inventory online — yes, you need to take pictures of your new and used inventory, and don’t be negligent over who actually owns the data.
  • Glenn Pasch, a staple in the automotive speaking scene, presented dealers with the How and Why of having a good online reputation.
  • Mitch Gallant shared his experiences and lessons learned from all the crazy things they have tried over at the Capital Auto Group. He might have had the best line of the conference: “They call me the chemist: not because of how I experiment, but because I can turn money into s%#t!”
  • Aleksandra Banas from Lexus of Edmonton showed us the must-use Google tools for your dealership, including a guided tour through Google Trends, Google My Business, and YouTube.
  • Social media marketer and master of props, Ryan Holtz, got everybody energized and then proceeded to have a dealer hold up a huge pair of tighty whities for a creative campaign he ran for a dealer: #dropyourgonch. If you’re a dealer and you don’t like free media coverage, then this was not for you.
  • Search Optics followed with their presentation — we missed out, unfortunately — and judging by the applause, the content strategies they shared were very well received.
  • Then finally the star of the show: Al Awadia from Google. I am going to write an entirely separate post on this because he shared way too much great information about 2014 and what happened.

Like TED talks for dealers, the presentations didn’t stop there.

Breaking up the set list at lunch, we had the chance to hear from both reality TV star Danny Koker from Count’s Kustoms and Steve Chipman, Chairman of the CADA, the latter providing an update on what the CADA is doing on behalf of dealers.

Saturday evening was concluded with a dinner gala where Cameron Chell shared his inspirational story and challenged us to ask ourselves us “What if?”

We had two carry-on bags, seventy-five business cards, five sheets of contracts, a bag of airline pretzels, a whole galaxy of multicoloured dealer pens, water bottles, and letter openers, and some psychedelic memories of an electric string trio playing “Kashmir”…

A 7:45am Sunday flight back to snow-covered Edmonton really makes us hope that what happened over three receptions in Vegas will stay in Vegas again next year.

J.D. Power Teams up with DealerRater for Customer Reviews

This Wednesday, J.D. Power and DealerRater announced they will be joining forces to speed up customer reviews for auto dealers. JD Power Dealer Rater Partners They will be merging data from Automotive Consumer Insights with dealer reviews. Combining actual dealer reviews with customer survey data means auto shoppers can get all the information they need from one place.

What You Need to Know

  • The combined data means your dealership gets feedback faster, in an easy-to-read package.
  • You will be able to analyze your dealer reputation directly from DealerRater.
  • This will make reading reviews easier for car dealerships!

Why Does DealerRater Matter?

  • Over 9.5 million auto shoppers are posting reviews on the DealerRater site.
  • Positive dealer reviews give car shoppers more confidence to shop at your dealership.
  • Reviews are good for SEO and help your website rank higher.

Want to know more about dealer reviews? Check out our blog series:

What They Had to Say

“We are excited to work with DealerRater to provide automakers and dealers with fast and comprehensive insights delivered through our new industry-leading online reporting platform.” – Mike Battaglia, Senior Director of Automotive Retail, J. D. Power and Associates.

“Our consumer-written reviews serve many purposes, which includes helping consumers find the best place to buy a car and enabling dealers to understand what their customers are looking for in the car-shopping experience.” – Chip Grueter, founder and chief technology architect of DealerRater.

5 Painless Ways to Ask for Reviews

Reviews Are Important
Reviews are important; we get it.

Without reviews, you see less website traffic (reviews are a huge ranking factor and are good for SEO), have less engagement with your customers, and probably sell fewer vehicles.

But how do you ask customers for reviews? Everybody is busy, and if someone just finished buying a car, the last thing you want to do is pester them for a dealer review.

You need to ease them into the process. Here are a few tactics to make asking for reviews painless for both you and your customers:

1. Smooth Criminal

It’s easy to ask customers for a positive review by putting a brief message and a link to your review page in your email signature. This way no one can “forget” to ask for the review either. Remember, subtlety is the key to seduction.

2. Social Butterfly

Social Butterfly Icon

Build a very simple and friendly page on your website that links to all of your preferred review sites. Check out the page that Pacific Motors just built for this: http://www.pacificmotors.ca/dcm/review-us.

You can also purchase an easy-to-remember domain to advertise your review sites (www.reviewdealershipname.com, for example) and then put that link in your email signature or include it in a “Thank you” email you send each customer after they have made a purchase.

3. Don’t Ask

hush Get someone else to ask for you! Your salespeople or front-facing staff can politely ask a customer to leave a review.

Just make sure your staff know your dealership’s preferred review websites so they can steer customers in the right direction.

4. Give Incentives

While you can’t buy reviews from customers with cash, gift certificates, or prizes, you can give incentives to your employees to ask for positive reviews.

I’ve seen dealerships offer cash or an entry into a draw for every positive review they received. It was so successful that they could only run the program for a few months—if you’re looking for a quick pay off, then this may be your best bet.

5. Thank Them!

If you send a “Thank you” letter to customers a week or two after their purchase, you could ask for a positive review at the same time.

Whether you’ve decided to set up a separate page or URL for your review sites, or to include review icons and a brief sentence requesting a review, adding it to your sales process is an effective way to remind customers to review your business.

For more on reviews, don’t forget to check out our post on 4 places to get dealer reviews!

4 Places to Get Dealer Reviews

By now, everyone understands the benefits of getting positive reviews for your business. But where do you send your customers to leave their reviews? Is it just a testimonial page on your website? There are actually a number of popular review websites that you can send your customers to.

Here’s the shortest, sweetest list of where to get customers to leave their reviews:

1. Google+ (duh)

Getting positive reviews on Google+ has arguably the biggest bang for your proverbial buck. Google weighs these reviews, combined with the quality of your Google+ page, the heaviest of all the review sites. Why? Because they own this sh*t!

The authority of your Google+  listing combines with your website authority to give you a better chance of showing up in the Google maps locations in the search results page (known as the “Map Pack”).

Map Pack Google Screenshot

If you lack time or resources (who doesn’t?), definitely start with this one. Your first steps should be to claim your Google Plus and Places listing, complete it as thoroughly as possible, and then ask customers for reviews.

2. Facebook

Facebook might be getting a little tired to some of us, but it’s still hands down the social media giant. With 1.3 billion monthly active Facebook users, you can bet that people are asking their friends and family about buying a car and looking for advice and information.

Facebook also launched something called Graph Search in January, 2013, that makes their database easier to search with conversationally-phrased questions like “what is the best Ford dealership in Vancouver.”

Facebook only shows results from popular Facebook pages already in their database. If you don’t already have a Facebook business page, set one up and post a few times before advertising the page too much. Not sure about the whole Facebook thing? Read some reasons why your car dealership should be on Facebook and see if we can change your mind.

3. Yelp

With over 60 million registered users and over 20 million reviews posted on the site, this is not one to ignore. Yelp is also considered the second most important review site (next to Google+) to help boost your SEO.

In the beginning, Yelp was mostly used for reviews on the restaurant industry but other industries now account for more than 75% of their listings. To get started with Yelp, check to see if you already have a Yelp listing and update any incorrect information on your account. If you can’t find your dealership, then create a new listing.

4. Dealer Rater

Of all of the review sites built just for the automotive industry, we see customers leave the most reviews on dealerrater.ca. Customers can search for a dealership, service centre, or actual vehicle using this site and leave a review by logging in through their social media account or by creating a Dealer Rater account. In order to become a Dealer Rater Certified dealership, you have to pay to play.

If you need help improving your online presence or gaining positive reviews for your business, Contact Us at Strathcom with any questions!