Our site offers car dealers a free choice in managing their dealer rating account. However, everyone is not pleased with our opinion that this type of service should be free. Read the passionate and aggressive response we received because we support a free only model:
(Originally post on AutomotiveDigitialMarketing.com)
I love your passion and it is refreshing to see how much you want MyDealerReport.com to be successful. What I have learned from breaking into the business years ago is that building your business by putting down your competitors is shaky ground and diminishing to your product.
When you use the word Rip-Off it gets people upset especially when they are using those fees to travel to dealers and coach them how to create a positive process for collecting and marketing reviews. Since I have seen the evolution of the review market, let me add some clarity here:
1. You avoid calling out any company but let’s assume that the biggest player in the paid review space is DealerRater.com.
2. In the beginning, Chip utilized SEO to have DealerRater.com’s website appear on Page One for the dealers name. This was brilliant and it introduced consumers that they could have voice online.
3. In the beginning, some people used the same words that you used in your post, “extortion“, but in all honesty this was not much different than a consumer posting a negative blog post on any website. The beauty was that Chip was an early SEO Jedi and made sure that the review was seen. No one seems to want to give Chip credit that he was able to get his project national visibility. Also keep in mind that DealerRater.com was one of the first companies to have their reviews rolled up in Google Maps which also lends authority to the website.
4. It wasn’t until the business model matured that the DealerRater.com Certified Dealer model came out and I thought that was brilliant as well. It gave dealers an option to resolve matters, for a fee, but also gave them the tools and training to implement positive review management processes. Dealers on their own are notoriously lazy about getting reviews online. DR really was the pioneer in forcing dealers to wake up to the power of the consumer online. The review business has costs and it was reasonable to turn this website into a full service business.
5. Today, DealerRater.com is providing a valuable service to dealers who use DealerRater.com tools and those that choose NOT to pay, don’t have the opportunity to leverage these managed services. The dealers that leverage DR’s training have seen amazing benefits that exceed the fees they pay.
6. Keep in mind that your service is free but in no way are you able to guarantee that the content dealers post on your site will always be there. At anytime in the future you can decide to stop donating your time on this site or turn the site into a cash cow by advertising ads. As soon as increased advertising goes up on the site to fund its support we have another problem. Why would a dealer send their customers to a site that has ads that may distract them for another purpose? (Think Edmunds.com Reviews)
7. If you think DealerRater is the devil, then you can say the same for Google. Anyone can run an Adwords campaign that diverts leads from a car dealer’s website. The ad can run RIGHT OVER TOP of the dealer’s organic listing and Google will not stop them. Unless the dealer PAYS Google to run their own campaign, the dealer is screwed. Google’s defense is just don’t use our search engine. In the same sense, Chip built this model and the awareness in the industry on his own dime and then turned it into a respectable business that offers dealers services, training and support. The fee is ridiculously inexpensive for the visibility of his site.
That said, I like free review sites as well and I am very fond of the PrestoReviews model that actually builds custom review sites that help increase POD Score and also give dealers stream-able content for their blogs, websites, etc. PrestoReviews is like TK Carsites Power of 5 for reviews.
I also like the fact that MyDealerReport is being rolled up into Google Maps and that’s great for dealers as well. So if reviews are important, dealers can go with established leaders and also utilize your free service. To encourage dealers to leave DealerRater.com is a bold move when your website is still in virtual “diapers”
The one wildcard to keep in mind that IF Google decides to stop rolling up 3rd party vendors reviews on Google Maps, and only show those that are directly posted to Maps, you might be in a pickle.
DealerRater.com who has the best SEO model and the longest aging in the index would continue to dominate organic search. I perform hundreds of searches a month on Dealer Name’s and DealerRater has significant visibility today on Page One over MyDealerReport. My estimate is that if ANY review site shows on Page One for a dealer’s name, DealerRater will be their 900% more than your site today.
As PrestoReviews rolls out more localized review websites that have URL’s that include the car dealers name, they would have more traffic based on the fact that a car dealers name is the #1 organic search phrase that consumers use to get to a dealer’s website.
In conclusion, to imply to dealers that they don’t need to use a paid review management provider is just ill-advised and self serving. I see the value in DealerRater.com and their $200 a month fee. I love the SEO power of locally optimized review sites from PrestoReviews. Dealers need more website assets to protect their brand.
An finally, since MyDealerReport is a well design site that is being rolled up into Google Maps, dealers should get their profile updated and get some reviews on their as well.
It’s all about balance. Dropping a bag of shit on others competitors when your project is in its infancy is small thinking. Your project deserves better marketing.