Car Dealership Reviews Affect Purchase Decision

Almost seven in 10 consumers said dealership reviews affected their purchase decision

Just like consumers in almost every other sector of ecommerce, car shoppers are doing their research online before heading out to make a purchase. According to an April 2012 poll by Digital Air Strike of US consumers who had purchased a car in the last six months, review sites were a widely used tool by car buyers during the research phase of their purchase process. In fact, 69% of consumers said review sites had an impact on the dealership they visited.

Half of respondents said reading reviews of dealerships had affirmed their choice of where to make a purchase, while about one-quarter said the reviews had no effect on them. But online feedback from other customers held an outsized influence on a small minority of car shoppers—14% said reviews were the sole reason they had decided to visit a dealership. And 5% decided to change the dealership they bought from after reading negative reviews online.

And when it came to actually buying, almost seven in 10 shoppers said reviews had aided them in their purchase decision. About four in 10 said the reviews helped them in a general sense, while three in 10 had decided to purchase from a particular dealer based on online feedback from other customers. Moreover, if a dealership had been completely absent from review sites, one in 10 respondents would have been less likely to purchase from them.

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Foursquare Lets Businesses Talk to Users

Foursquare will start letting businesses capitalize on the enthusiasm of customers who’ve checked in repeatedly by rolling out a way to message them, starting today.

Through the “local updates” tool, businesses can send their updates to a pool of users who will be picked by Foursquare’s algorithm based on the frequency and recency of their check-ins and the businesses they’ve “liked” (a feature Foursquare made available with its redesign last month).

It could give the nearly 1 million businesses that have claimed their listing on Foursquare a stronger incentive to be active on the platform, since they can place messages about specials and events for free in the activity streams of users who’ve likely already spent money in their stores and had enough of an affinity to want to broadcast their visit to friends.

“Now with local updates, it’s hopefully a tool that merchants engage with every day,” said Noah Weiss, the Foursquare product manager who oversees all merchant-facing tools, who noted that users will also have the ability to opt out of receiving updates from a business.

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Brands Ignore Negative Social Buzz at Their Peril

“In a world of social sites that allow consumers to post photos, videos and opinions about companies and brands, disparaging comments and other content detrimental to brands are bound to bubble up,” said a new eMarketer report “Dealing with Negative Buzz on Social Media.” “And that content can stay online forever.”

In February, American Express found that 46% of US internet users it surveyed had turned to companies’ social media sites to vent their frustrations about poor experiences.

“This buildup of negative buzz on social media can have a significant impact on brands because social media is more public and moves faster than customer complaints via traditional channels,” said eMarketer.

Top 5 Reasons US Internet Users Use Social Media for Customer Service, Feb 2012 (% of respondents)

Moreover, companies now have accounts and brand pages on so many different social networks that it is hard to keep up. “Having a plan in place for dealing specifically with negative buzz and then constantly monitoring, tracking and responding to comments on social media are two important ways to deal with negative situations on social media,” said eMarketer. But implementing these precautions requires integration between teams within a company, expanded thinking about what words and issues to track, and, in some cases, tasking outside companies and vendors to provide monitoring services.

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Are you ready for the EU Cookie Directive deadline?

26th of May 2012 is the official deadline for websites to conform with the EU Cookie Directive which requires all European websites to request permission before serving cookies to EU Cookie Directivetheir visitors. Cookies are generally used to improve the  visitors’ experience by remembering what visitors are doing and displaying differently based on that information. Most tracking software also use cookies to collect data, so without cookies on your website, tracking like Google Analytics won’t work. The reason the EU Cookie Directive exists is because cookies watch the activities of visitors, so could be seen to infringe on their privacy…I can see the point but this directive is creating way more problems than it’s solving.

In order to get permission you are forced to either stop site visitors when entering your site with a pop up and demand permission at that point, OR use a banner at the top or bottom of your website asking nicely. The first option is intrusive and may well put a lot of visitors off your website altogether. The second option risks being ignored by people who just don’t understand what they’re agreeing to. What does that mean? Any tracking cookies won’t work – a missed opportunity to gather some useful data, potentially on a large chunk of your website’s visits. Also any cookies that help to make the visitor’s website experience more customised and enjoyable won’t work. Oh and not forgetting: if you’re running ads on your website that are highly targeted to the visitors, they also won’t work without getting cookie consent. If this is your website’s source of revenue, it’s a big problem!

What does the EU Cookie Directive mean to you?

You can either:

  1. Ignore it (and risk hefty fines)
  2. Stop using cookies (you’re be surprised by how much of your website actually uses cookies to run)
  3. Install the ability to request permission BEFORE using cookies on your website

How can you comply with the EU Cookie Directive?

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Peugeot leverages Pinterest for Global Branding

Peugeot came to DDB Panama and said, “hey my brand is cool, I want to be in social media.” Instead of just creating a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Foursquare venue (which they did) the crew at DDB Panama decided this was a brand that needed to be on Pinterest.

By creating boards for each of their cars and inviting people to pin on them then tying the Pinterest activity into Facebook and Twitter, Peugeot grew their social media presence by leaps and bounds.

Depending on your point of view you will applaud the clever use of the new media that Pinterest is, or you’ll will see it as the next social media network to be over-run by brands. Nevertheless, when you can create global brand awareness from a tiny country like Panama, you know you’ve got yourself a great case study.


Facebook Paid Ads, GM Cuts But Ford Steps on the Gas

On the eve of Facebook’s wildly anticipated initial public stock offering, General Motors said Tuesday that it is “reassessing” its spending on Facebook paid ads — about $10 million — but “remains committed” to the social network as part of “an aggressive content strategy with all our products and brands.”

In other words, GM will not pay Facebook for ads but will continue to maintain content, for which Facebook doesn’t collect revenue. News of the decision was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

GM’s position is far from universal. Ford Motor said it would “accelerate” Facebook paid ad spending in conjunction with the content it’s producing for the network.

But GM’s pullout points to Facebook’s biggest challenge: Though most consumer brands see the social network as a way to connect with consumers, opinions are mixed on the value of paid ads there. Posting messages is free, but Facebook astonished the market in February when it revealed that only 16% of “fans” see any given piece of content. To reach more “fans” as well as their friends, marketers were urged to buy advertising.

Automotive is a tough category for Facebook, as the purchase cycle is long and many factors influence a decision. A spokesman for the company said it would have no comment on GM’s decision.

Sources told Ad Age that world’s second-largest automaker has been reviewing the effectiveness of Facebook paid ads vs. placing content on the site for a while. (GM named Carat as its new media spending agency in January.). GM spokesman Tom Henderson said that the carmaker would continue to budget for content spending on Facebook “because Facebook continues to be a really effective tool for engaging with our customers.”

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Three Facts About Facebook Advertising

Buddy Media. has been helping advertisers succeed on Facebook, and the other major social networks, ever since. Today, close to 1,000 companies, including 8 of the world’s top 10 global brands, use Buddy Media to manage their Facebook advertising and social marketing programs.

This has given Buddy media a front-row seat to the social marketing game, and with it, access to a large set of aggregate data about the state of Facebook advertising and the the actual results they are seen are different from some of those cited in a story from The Wall Street Journal that mentions brand advertisers are souring on Facebook advertising.

The aggregate, quantifiable numbers, as well as knowledge of  brands’ ad spend, show the speed at which brand advertisers are investing into Facebook.

Companies that spent $1 million last year are spending $5 million this year. Companies that spent $10 million last year are upping spend to $25 million or more.

In the first quarter of 2011, our technology managed 3 billion social ad impressions. In the same period this year, we managed 127 billion impressions. That’s a 42-fold increase in just a year.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a brand manager at Kia Motors as evidence of advertisers’ “big doubt.” “The question with Facebook … is, ‘What are we getting for our dollars?’” asked Kia’s Michael Sprague.

To address Michael’s question–as well as any doubts about the state of Facebook’s advertising business–you need to understand three simple truths.

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