Buying a car is a large investment and your customers need to know that they can trust your dealership to provide a reliable vehicle. They also need to feel confident they’re paying a fair price and getting the best deal when they buy from your business.
Aside from competitive pricing, diverse inventory, and a talented sales team, what can you do to ensure that customers come to you when choosing their next vehicle? You can make sure that your dealership has sparkling reviews on popular listings platforms like Cars.com.
First things first, what is Cars.com? Cars.com is a digital marketplace for businesses in the automotive industry. This platform connects people who sell cars with people looking to buy cars.
If your automotive business isn’t already taking advantage of Cars.com, it’s time to change that. In this article, we’ll cover why the platform is a game changer and how to get started using it.
How Does Cars.com Work?
When a customer is in the market to purchase a vehicle, the first thing they will do is research online. In fact, a recent study from UK-based DMA showed that 68 percent of people rely on automotive reviews for their purchase decisions. Cars.com is one of the leading providers of automotive pricing and research tools, with an estimated 15.5 million unique site visitors each month.
The platform helps to match prospective car buyers with their perfect vehicle based on safety ratings and consumer and industry reviews. Once Cars.com finds the best car for the customer, the site helps them find that vehicle at a nearby car dealership through their database of new and used car listings. The good news for you is that this vehicle could be located right on your lot.
To put your dealership one step closer to closing the sale, you’ll need to ensure that you have positive reviews on Cars.com.
Why Do I Need Positive Reviews on Cars.com to Sell More Cars?
Your sales and service team work hard to keep customers happy when they visit your dealership. But many customers will form their opinion of your business before they even set foot on your lot—through positive or negative online reviews.
Even if you have the car they’re looking to buy on Cars.com in the exact year, color, and model they want, if you have bad reviews they won’t feel confident calling your sales team to arrange a test drive. Instead of coming to you, they may go to your competitor who has invested time into gathering positive Cars.com reviews.
Additionally, the Cars.com vehicle search algorithm favors sellers that have the most positive customer reviews on their platform. Better reviews mean that more customers will see and interact with your new and used car listings. More views, clicks, saves, and favorites can translate to increased in-person traffic at your dealership, higher sales, and better paychecks for your grateful sales team.
Cars.com and Social Media Auto Sales
When you invest in earning positive reviews with Cars.com, you’re also taking a step to increase your visibility on Facebook Marketplace. In October 2017, Facebook announced that it would collaborate with Cars.com and other listing platforms to list their inventory on Facebook Marketplace. Facebook did this to increase the inventory available to their buyers, but dealerships like you are really the ones who have benefitted. Now, dealerships can also appear on the Marketplace through the Cars.com Social Sales Drive.
According to Cars.com, more than 50 percent of car buyers on Facebook Marketplace wanted to interact after business hours. Having your listings appear on social media means much more potential exposure for your listings—even after hours.
How to Get More Positive Reviews on Cars.com
You know you need more positive reviews on Cars.com to help your business succeed. But how do you get those reviews? You have plenty of happy customers leaving the lot in your vehicles, but none of them are organically leaving the positive reviews you need. Here are some ways you can encourage customers to leave a review:
- Ask in Person
The most obvious and direct way to gain more positive reviews on Cars.com is to ask satisfied customers to leave a review in person, immediately after they have purchased their new vehicle. This is the time when their experience is most fresh in their mind, and when they are likely to be able to recall the most details.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to help customers remember to leave the review. Once they leave your lot, odds are they won’t want to have to go to Cars.com and navigate to where they can leave their review.
- Send an Email
Many dealerships use email campaigns to drive positive online reviews on Cars.com. You could offer an incentive to increase open rates and bring the customer back to your dealership for service, like 10% OFF their first auto service appointment.
This can be a very effective tactic for gathering positive reviews unless your emails get sent directly to the SPAM folder or are ignored or overlooked by the customer.
- Send a Text Message
Unlike a desktop, laptop, or tablet device, consumers pretty much always have their smartphone handy. While your staff may forget to ask for reviews in person and customers may choose not to open an email, text messages have a 99% open rate. Texting customers who have just had a positive experience with your business for a review is the best way to build your online presence and credibility. It makes it much more convenient and quick for a customer to leave a positive review.
Podium’s online reputation management tool and text technology give you the power to more efficiently maintain your online reputation, building positive reviews on Cars.com and other popular listings sites.
Can I Promote My Positive Reviews Once I Earn Them?
Once you have gathered some positive reviews from customers, you can use those reviews to better promote your business. Cars.com basic listings are completely free for your business, but the website also offers Plus and Premium ads for a fee. This can be a hyper-targeted way to reach buyers in your area. After all, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
How Else Can I Optimize My Cars.com Listings?
Besides positive reviews, you’ll need to make sure that your car dealership listings are optimized to sell. After much industry research, Cars.com offers these tips for a winning listing:
- Great Photos
Make sure you include high-quality photos from each angle of the vehicle in your listing. You want to give potential buyers a true sense of what the car looks like—and how great they’ll look driving it off the lot.
- Seller’s Notes
Make sure to include plenty of details about your car’s best features. Write seller’s notes that highlight any option packages, warranties, or upgrades your dealership offers. Including this type of information will help your listing pop up more frequently through Cars.com’s keyword search functionality.
- History Reports
Upgrade your listing to include a Carfax report. Providing this information up-front builds trust with your customer, and buyers often seek it out when considering the purchase of a vehicle.
Having an established online presence is more and more important. Your customer will likely browse your inventory long before they come in for a test drive. Gaining positive reviews on Cars.com can mean more trust in your business. That translates to more leads, a boost in the online conversation about your inventory, better foot-traffic at your dealership, and, of course, more sales.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cars.com a legit site?
Yes! Cars.com is a trusted marketplace and a reliable resource for buying and selling cars.
Can I use Cars.com on mobile?
Yes. You can access Cars.com via the internet on your mobile device, or download their app for iOS or Android devices.
What is the Cars.com service fee?
Cars.com charges sellers a one-time listing fee of $4.99 per listing, which allows you to run the listing for 30 days. You’ll also have the option to add a Carfax report for an additional $35.