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Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews
Online Dealership Marketing Support & Best Practices Discuss Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews in the Websites, SEO, SEM, and Internet Marketing forums; Interesting discussion. Matt Muilenburg here, new poster. From the enthusiasm of this discussion alone, I think we can all agree that when it comes to emerging digital marketing techniques, reputation ...
      
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  1. #11
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    Company: ADP Digital Marketing
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Interesting discussion. Matt Muilenburg here, new poster.

    From the enthusiasm of this discussion alone, I think we can all agree that when it comes to emerging digital marketing techniques, reputation management is the hottest date in town. And as with all new offers, it’s pretty much a land grab right now. Dealers are understandably eager to capture their share of “reputation capital” and the surrounding ethics and legal implications are so new, no one is paying too much attention to the fine print just yet. Unfortunately, like all new digital marketing mediums, the “race for stars” is paved in red tape, and the implications of ignoring review regulations are increasingly serious. Although The Federal Trade Commission is only just beginning to crack down on bogus reviews, we can already see from the landmark Legacy Learning ruling that review regulation is going to be serious business. Upholding your reputation is just not worth a $250,000 fine (unless you’re Howard Stern.



    So, in the spirit of education, here are some tips for vetting a potential reputation management vendor, from someone who is (full disclosure) Vice President of Reputation Management at ADP Digital Marketing. Employing these tactics can help you avoid a company who specializes in Joe's "star spam." (@joepistell-love that term, btw).




    A few things to ask to vet a potential vendor:

    1. “How do you gather reviews?” For example, our process is to send surveys to known customers who are validated out of the DMS. Pretty common-sense, and makes sense to anyone whether they know anything about reputation management or not. If a vendor tries give you some “magic beans” type answer about how the review collection process is “very complicated” and “secret sauce,” run.



    2. “Can you guarantee all 5-star reviews?” This is a trick question, and our answer (and any honest vendor’s answer) is going to be “Heck no!” Our research shows that 85% of reviews are generally positive, so that’s what we aim for, but of course it really depends on your individual store and the level of customer service you offer, etc. Anyone that says they can offer you a perfect five-star reputation is up to something shady, so keep running.


    3. “How soon/often can I expect new reviews?” A responsible reputation management vendor knows that genuine reviews follow the natural sales cycle. Reviews ebb in naturally, with maybe a little spike during sales or high seasons. If a vendor tells you that by hiring them you will have “200 glowing reviews by tomorrow” run as fast as your legs will carry you. All decent review sites monitor against exactly this kind of “popcorn approach” to reputation management, so if there is a big burst of review activity after a long period of nothingness, or directly after account creation, there’s a chance you could get banned from that review site permanently. Run, run, run, run.


    My final piece of advice is this:


    I hate to see dealers wringing their hands over a few bad reviews. There is such a cut-throat attitude in the dealership world toward reputation management, but a perfect 5-star review record was never the intention, nor should dealers so desperately pursue such an impossible ideal. I can see this is a controversial issue, but we agree with @glennjimerson on this one (although @kevinfrye and @eleyduke, I'd love to know your secret.


    Our thought however is that, though you may expect your business to be perfect, your customers don’t. Customers who read online reviews are generally shrewd individuals, so if they see a perfect track record of five star reviews, this will likely raise their suspicions. The reality is, no business is perfect and consumers know this. They don’t need to find a dealership that’s perfect for everyone; they need to find the dealership that’s perfect for them. So don’t treat reputation management as a chance to madly bury your bad reviews. Instead, embrace the negative as a way to represent the uniqueness among stores. Trust me, it’s a good thing.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Originally, I reported on this on my blog at www.canuckseo.com here --Canadian SEO | Local Canadian SEO | Hamilton SEO|CanuckSEO.com

    And followed up just a couple of days ago here -- Canadian SEO | Local Canadian SEO | Hamilton SEO|CanuckSEO.com

    As an SEO practitioner with over 12 yrs exp, I know and love SEO! And what I see, you can read about at either of those posts....and comment there too!

    Google did respond over the past 10 months to Places phoney reviews....but must step up their game considerably I think -- as do the rest of the SEO community....

    Jim
    www.canuckseo.com

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Quick update of recent and encouraging action by Google.

    Google Quickly Removes Most Review Spam in Moving Industry – More Remains at Google and Elsewhere | Understanding Google Maps & Local Search

    Looks like they pulled down a bunch of spam from the moving industry. I'm hopeful that this foreshadows a similar effort to "clean out" the junk in our industry.

    Does this look credible to you? How many of your customers visit 6 different dealers in 90 days?

    ScreenHunter_06 Jul. 20 10.47.jpg

    Totally agree with Matt's litmus test for credibility. Good luck getting your money back from these folks when Google drops the hammer and removes all the fake content you've paid for, and I'm sure they won't be picking up the FCC fines either...
    Ryan Leslie
    Director of Dealer Reputation Strategy
    DealerRater

    678.701.7791
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    Motivational Tagline Fail:

    "Reach for the Stars. The Sky is the Limit!"

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    At my dealership I have implemented a few incentive programs to assist in the Dealerrater/review process that has been quite successful and thought I would share:
    1) The dealerrater review postcards that the sales people and F&I hand out are very vague and do not walk the customer through the process so we made new cards that give the customer specific instructions on how to fully complete a review.
    2) I now have a $500 bonus for the salesperson that gets the most positive reviews throughout the month.
    3) For the customers, this could get some scrutiny but it works, we hold a drawing at the end of the month and pull a name from the customers that left reviews throughout the month and award the winner $500. As most of you inevitably will find out, it is not that easy to get the salespeople and customers to follow through on getting these reviews, so these two practices incentivize both parties.
    4) We also make the top salesperson by volume only eligible for their $500 bonus (separate from the review bonus) if they have received at least 4 positive reviews throughout the month.

    We yield roughly 40-50 reviews per month out of 130-150 cars sold per month so it seems to be working.

    We also try to incorporate our Facebook page for the contest to get more customers to friend us.
    Don’t forget the most important ingredient to making this all work… TAKE CARE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS!!!!!

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Is it so wrong to take hand written letters that are sent to a dealership, and enter them onto DealerRater or any other review site on behalf of the customer? It is in fact a legit review, just not entered digitally. We've been asked to do this by dealers so I'm curious what you all think..

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by PurposeAdvertising View Post
    Is it so wrong to take hand written letters that are sent to a dealership, and enter them onto DealerRater or any other review site on behalf of the customer? It is in fact a legit review, just not entered digitally. We've been asked to do this by dealers so I'm curious what you all think..
    This could be a totally new thread if you wanted to dive into what makes reviews credible and valuable to the unsold prospect, but the short answer is, Yes, it's wrong. More importantly, it isn't even possible long-term due to DealerRater's strict enforcement of our TOU. Your IP and/or GUID would be blocked. This is friendly advice and I hope you take it that way, but as far as DealerRater is concerned, you can honestly tell those dealers that you couldn't even if you wanted to.

    It violates TOU for DealerRater and every other reputable review site in every vertical. Google's Place page terms it "impersonation." Although they have yet to crack down on it, they are going to be forced to do that eventually, and likely due to the ongoing investigation. Search out their TOU and you will find more than sufficient small print to support a decision not to do this for your dealer partners if you provide them with any other services and want to maintain a relationship with them. You would simply not be acting in their best interest long term.

    Happy to talk with you about this offline... Give me a call.
    Ryan Leslie
    Director of Dealer Reputation Strategy
    DealerRater

    678.701.7791
    ryan@dealerrater.com
    http://twitter.com/jrleslie
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/ryanleslie


    Motivational Tagline Fail:

    "Reach for the Stars. The Sky is the Limit!"

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Ryan,
    Thanks for the professional opinion on this- it always seemed a little questionable (at best) so we have nstead helped dealers come up with a process to have customers enter their own reviews in the system at delivery. The only *potential* problem I see with this, is that they are all entering the reviews/ratings from the dealership which could be looked at as a single IP address.


    -Michael

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Leslie View Post
    This could be a totally new thread if you wanted to dive into what makes reviews credible and valuable to the unsold prospect, but the short answer is, Yes, it's wrong. More importantly, it isn't even possible long-term due to DealerRater's strict enforcement of our TOU. Your IP and/or GUID would be blocked. This is friendly advice and I hope you take it that way, but as far as DealerRater is concerned, you can honestly tell those dealers that you couldn't even if you wanted to.

    It violates TOU for DealerRater and every other reputable review site in every vertical. Google's Place page terms it "impersonation." Although they have yet to crack down on it, they are going to be forced to do that eventually, and likely due to the ongoing investigation. Search out their TOU and you will find more than sufficient small print to support a decision not to do this for your dealer partners if you provide them with any other services and want to maintain a relationship with them. You would simply not be acting in their best interest long term.

    Happy to talk with you about this offline... Give me a call.
    We have failed, so far, to merge the real world with the online world. Not only should be alright to post letters that have been handwritten but it should be encouraged. Perhaps we need an application that allows for a quick photo of the original attached to the digital review?

    What if a business has been getting reviews on paper for the last 15 years? Who are we to say that only digital ones (very young format right now) are valid?

    What if an older person or someone unconfortable with a computer wants to leave a review?

    We are forcing people of a certain age, that have an email, a computer, etc to be the ones controlling this interaction.
    Yago de Artaza Paramo
    CEO, PGI Digital

    yago@pgiauto.com

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  9. #19
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by yagoparamo View Post
    We have failed, so far, to merge the real world with the online world. Not only should be alright to post letters that have been handwritten but it should be encouraged. Perhaps we need an application that allows for a quick photo of the original attached to the digital review?
    Respectfully, the online world IS the real world, and it is becoming more REAL to more people every day. Shoot, more of my friends are virtual than not right now...

    I think that scanning a letter is fine if you want to post that on your site, but a flip video might be better, either way that isn't what we are talking about here. The question was is it ok to load reviews on behalf of someone else. That answer is NO across all reputable sites. I don't think that a picture of the paper would really authenticate it as much or as easily as a unique GUID and IP does. Facts are that "handwritten letters" faxed to a third party that has promised to "get you reviews or raise your ratings" invites fraud. Not at all saying that is what you were doing, Michael, but that is what some of the disreputable companies are doing. Could it be done legitimately? Sure. Does it inherently involve fraud or risk of fraud not present by GUID and IP tracking/blocking? Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by yagoparamo View Post
    What if a business has been getting reviews on paper for the last 15 years? Who are we to say that only digital ones (very young format right now) are valid?
    The unsold prospect tells us what is valid. 15 days ago is getting aged and 15 years ago never happened. The consumer shows a strong preference for very current review content. That said, if you've been practicing asking the happy people for a positive review for 15 years you should have NO problem getting new reviews that are valid and highly impactful, right? The issue here is understanding the need to modernize the request and delivery of the content. Nobody really wants to plunk down money for a stamp, and frankly, that bulletin board by the drinking fountain isn't getting as many views as your website.

    Quote Originally Posted by yagoparamo View Post
    What if an older person or someone unconfortable with a computer wants to leave a review?

    We are forcing people of a certain age, that have an email, a computer, etc to be the ones controlling this interaction.
    I'm always shocked to see the reports that the Boomers are the fastest growing demographic on FB, but my personal anecdotal evidence supports it. My Grandfather is in his late 80's and is always in my newsfeed, I think he jumped on before I did and he is active there because of his peers...

    No disrespect at all Yago, but this doesn't hold water. Don't discount the older folks, they know how to get their voice heard if they are motivated to do so and have proven history of adapting. The issue here is more likely that the sales person or service writer has failed to ask or compel them to take the time to do it.

    I get asked to fill out a survey every time I buy anything. Trip to the grocery store, here is a survey. Lunch on Sunday, here is a survey. Exhausting right? The exception was a young lady that took great care of my wife and I and went out of her way to make us happy at dinner. She presented the check and explained that the survey was really important to her because it was important to her boss. It was then important to me because I wanted her boss to know what a great job she was doing and I filled out the survey. She earned my time and had the nerve to ask for it...
    Ryan Leslie
    Director of Dealer Reputation Strategy
    DealerRater

    678.701.7791
    ryan@dealerrater.com
    http://twitter.com/jrleslie
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/ryanleslie


    Motivational Tagline Fail:

    "Reach for the Stars. The Sky is the Limit!"

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Dealers flooding review sites with fake user reviews

    Has anyone else been a victim of Dealer on Dealer Review Fraud? If I didn't know any better, I would say that someone who works for Lasco Ford in Fenton, MI is going around and leaving false reviews.

    We've flagged the reviews as inappropriate with Google, but really aren't quite sure what other steps to take if any....suggestions?

    Lasco Ford.jpg
    Jason Stum Digital Marketing Manager
    LaFontaine Automotive Group
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