All Posts By

Justin Robinson-Prickett

10 Takeaways From the 2020 Local Customer Review Survey

Takeaways from the 2020 local customer review survey

The Local Customer Review Survey of 2020 has a wealth of information. Weve gleaned 10 things for you to keep in mind. 


For the past decade, the Local Customer Review Survey has sought to illuminate the ways in which customers use online reviews to choose which businesses to patronize. While any information gleaned from 2020, this most unusual of years, will have to come with an asterisk, its still important to look at which trends continued, and which are outliers. If nothing else, 2020 showed an increased reliance on the internet to shop, which is a trend that will only continue. 

  1. More customers are searching online for businesses, but not many more 

93% of all respondents searched online for a local business, with 34% searching every day. Unsurprisingly, these numbers are up from previous years, but not overwhelmingly so. People who searched for businesses every day were 33% in 2019 and 27% in 2018, so its a safe bet that this is part of a trend.  

  1. More customers are reading online reviews

Consumers reading online reviews has gone up in the decade since the Local Customer Review Survey has started. This year continued the trend, up from 81% last year to 87% this year. Online reviews continue to be an important part of any business. 

  1. Customers are using mobile devices to read reviews

This is another continuation of an overall trend away from desktops as the primary online shopping device. The numbers this year might be slightly juiced from users being away from work desktops, but the trend, especially in the automotive industry, was already heading to mobile devices. 

  1. COVID is unsurprisingly a huge concern

While COVID is hopefully something we wont have to live with too much longer, it will still be a factor well into 2021. 17% of respondents have said they have written negative reviews for businesses specifically for perceived lapses in COVID-related safety measures. 67% said they would outright refuse to go to a business whose reviews stated they were not taking proper COVID precautions. On the flip side, 22% of customers have specifically written presumably positive reviews to help local businesses. 

  1. Online reviews continue to be a major factor in the decision-making process

94% of respondents said positive reviews were more likely to get them to patronize a business, 92% said negative reviews make them less likely (and raising a few questions about that 2% in the middle), and 79% said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. All of these are up from the previous year, but not so much so that the pandemic appears to be the sole cause. 

  1. This applies to directly to car dealerships

The automotive industry is only behind restaurants, hotels, and the medical industry in terms of how important online reviews are for customers. We have a Wednesday Workshop on the subject of getting more reviews for precisely this reason. 

  1. Star rating is the single most important part of any review

If a user is only glancing at reviews, they might not read past the star rating. Thats partially what its there for, providing an at-a-glance impression though forgoing any nuance. The most important aspect of any review is the star rating, and 48% of users said they wouldnt use a business with fewer than 4 stars.  

  1. Recent reviews are more valuable

While a solid bank of reviews helps establish your business as legitimate, a whopping 73% of customers only pay attention to reviews written in the past month. This means that getting reviews needs to be a constant process. 

  1. More people are reviewing local businesses

This year, the amount of customers leaving reviews took a big leap, likely because of the realities of the pandemic. 72% of respondents have written a review of a local business, which is 8% higher than the previous year. Therefore, this isnt a stat to rely on, but it should keep increasing gradually. 

  1. Google My Business is the most used

Heres a weird factoid: respondents rated Better Business Bureau as most trusted, but GMB as the most used. I suspect the discrepancy is due to GMB being easier to find, coming naturally with any Google search that turns up a business. We have blogs and Wednesday Workshops about GMB, so look for those for more information on how to utilize this valuable and free resource. 

The Local Customer Review Survey for 2020 should be taken in context, but for the most part, its showing an acceleration of trends already in place.  

Emotional Intelligence in Online Sales

Emotional Intelligence in Online Retail

Emotional Intelligence in Online Sales 

At its root, the internet is a paradox. It connects the world, but in so doing it misses some crucial parts of the human experience. Social media posts ironically lack a personal touch, which leaves everyone at a disadvantage when interpreting intent. Whats needed in the public sphere is something whose importance many have only just begun to recognize: emotional intelligence. 

Ive talked about emotional intelligence in this space before and likely will again, because of how vital and largely forgotten it is in the modern landscape. Today, Im going to discuss applying emotional intelligence to a place where its often lacking but sorely needed: online marketing. 

What is emotional intelligence? 

Emotional Intelligence encompasses a broad range of skills in the social arena. Think of it as having an awareness of not only how you feel, but of how youre presenting yourself and how others are reacting to you. A degree of control over your moods is essential. Im not talking about turning yourself into an emotionless robot, but rather curbing outbursts of temper and the like. Empathy is perhaps the most important cornerstone. People with high amounts of emotional intelligence tend to be leaders, have lots of genuine friends, and are good to have at parties. 

Isnt it hard to be emotionally intelligent online? 

Oh yeah. When interacting online, youre doing so at a remove. Emotional intelligence in-person is often practiced with a high degree of nonverbal communication as you read someones facial expressions and body language, both of which are hard to do on a Zoom call, let alone in a text-based environment like most social media. 

Fundamentally, though, marketing is about emotions. Buying decisions are made primarily at an emotional level, and any effective marketing must address that. So as difficult as it might be, emotional intelligence is required for good marketing. 

How do you start using emotional intelligence in marketing? 

The goals of online marketing are to be personalized, unobtrusive, and effective. Data collection is part of the first, although it can run into the second. For you, as an automotive dealership, most of the data you get are either going to come from submitted leads or from previous purchases at your store. But thats just the technical angle. Emotional intelligence is about moving beyond the technical and into the personal. 

Making your marketing unobtrusive and effective is about empathizing with the needs and desires of your customer base. Understand them, and you will be using emotional intelligence in your marketing. 

Is it about branding? 

To an extent, yes. Emotional intelligence on a personal basis involves knowing oneself first. You can do this with your brand as well. Are you a family-oriented business where everyone is welcome and the atmosphere is informal? Or are you a luxury store where everything from the clean decor to the smartly-dressed sales associates just screams class? Either way, your online marketing needs to reflect this personality.  

What about the audience? 

Good news, thats exactly the kind of question you should be asking. Empathy with your audience shows a high degree of emotional intelligence right off the bat. If I could distribute reward cookies, I would. 

Its more than that, of course. Its about caring what the response is. Think about what your audience cares about. In our example, the former store likely has a customer base that is more concerned about cost and wants a low stress purchasing experience. The latter store has a customer base that highly likely wants a vehicle with all the bells and whistles. 

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself how your customers are feeling, and then how you can address those fears. 

Great! So Im done. 

Youre never done. Emotional intelligence is a process that should inform every aspect of your marketing. Never stop asking the questions about yourself, or about your customers. Who knows, the answers might change over time. Simply asking those questions puts you in the right headspace to be understanding and empathetic, which will take you a long way. 

Got it. Im going to go think about my feelings. 

Me too. And if you find you have any other questions, just add a comment below. 

Five Traffic Violation Firsts


For almost as long as cars have existed, so have laws to govern them. In some cases longer, but well get there. Today, Im counting down five of the earliest scofflaws to ever get themselves in legal hot water over something they did behind the wheel.

1. Reverend C.H. North gets the first parking ticket in 1935

Just because he was a man of God didnt mean he could park in front of an expired meter. The Park-O-Meters, the first parking meters in the country, had arrived in Oklahoma City the previous July, and it was a brutally hot August day when North parked in front of one. After checking his pockets to find that he didnt have the meters fee, a nickel, he did the time-honored (well, it was new then, but its become de rigueur since) walk into a nearby store for some change. By the time he returned, he had the worlds first parking ticket.

Dont worry, the story has a happy ending. North took his ticket to court with the defense that he was getting change for the meter, and the judge dismissed it. Which was another first.

2. George Smith is the first person arrested for DUI in 1897

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is no laughing matter. In 1897, George Smith, a cab driver in London, found that out. For context, thats not even ten years after Jack the Ripper terrorized that city, so things are still pretty Victorian. An inebriated Smith plowed his car into a building, pled guilty, and was fined 25 shillings. Fortunately, no one was hurt, as the top speed of Smiths vehicle was around 8mph.

3. Walter Arnold gets pulled over for speeding in 1896

Strap in, because this one is funny. We stay over in England for his one, specifically in the small and extremely Englishly-named town of Paddock Wood. A constable spotted Arnold driving at blistering speeds and was forced to give chase. After a five mile pursuit through scenic small-town Kent, the officer caught up with the reckless Arnold, ticketing him for going four times the listed limit. The posted speed limit was 2mph. You can do the math. 

Oh yeah, the cop didnt even have a car. He had to chase Arnold down on a bicycle. 

4. James Lambert gets into the first car accident in 1891

Ohio was an early nexus for automotive innovators, and one of these was James William Lambert, who had over 600 patents to his name. What he also has is this dubious place in history. While driving the first single-cylinder gasoline-powered automobile, Lambert hit a tree root and then a hitching post. This is the very first accident by a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. Alert readers might have already noted the implied asterisk there. 

5. Nicholas Cugnot drives into a wall in 1771 

Cugnot was an inventor who in 1769 had created a horseless carriage for the purpose of hauling artillery. Cugnots vehicle was a flat cart with a huge steam engine in the front looking a bit like a giant cauldron. Cugnots work was incredible for its time, hauling that artillery at torrid 2.5mph and having to stop every 10 to 15 minutes to build up steam power. In 1771, Cugnot drove one of his vehicles into a stone wall in the very first motor vehicle accident.

These five firsts all have dubious place in history. It had to be someone, and it might as well have been them. At least no one was hurt. 

2020: Year in Review


2020 was a challenging year for so many reasons, but while we’re all happy to have it in the rearview mirror there were a lot of reason for celebration as well. DealerOn is proud of the way we rose to meet those challenges with and on behalf of our dealership partners. Every member of the DealerOn family from our dedicated Support team to our innovative Engineers have been laser-focused on ensuring the success of our dealers.

We’ve also taken the time to grow, offering expanded coverage hours, digital retailing, and automated specials. We’re ready for 2021, but in these few final moments of 2020, let’s look back at a few of our highlights.

1,200+ Websites + New OEM Partnership Launched 

Working closely with our new dealer partners we managed to launch over 1,200 brand new websites. Special thanks go out to the dealers who trusted in us enough to make a major business decision by changing their website provider amidst the craziness of 2020. We were also thrilled to commence our partnership with GM and look forward to bringing an incredible digital experience to our GM dealers. 

APEX Digital Retailing 

APEX, our native digital retailing tool, was a resounding success. On average APEX made up 25% of the total vehicle related leads that dealers received from our websites. APEX gave shoppers the perfect level of customization to personalize lease and finance terms from the comfort of their homesBy delivering an experience that car shoppers have now come to expect of online shopping – APEX is able to deliver high quality and most importantly high closing percentage leads that continue to drive vehicle sales. 

We’re excited about the upcoming set of features that will only continue to make one of the industry’s only NATIVE solutions even more powerful. 

Symphony: Automated Specials Listings 

2020 was a big year for automation at DealerOn with the release of our first phase of Symphony, which focuses on automated specials creation. Special offers have always been a lucrative but time-consuming part of any dealership’s business, forcing the owners to measure profit versus significant time investment. Symphony makes the decision easy, by creating and calculating specials for every manufacturer offer automatically each and every month. 

Beacon Reporting 

We supercharged Dealer Analytics with our BEACON Data Hub in 2020. Dealers and dealership groups can view all their essential marketing analytics in one place; from display advertising to website leads. Now you can track every penny of your digital advertising budget from expenditure to sale – true ROI. 

AccessiBe Partnership 

In order to provide increased accessibility to our websites, DealerOn partnered with accessiBe in early 2020. With accessiBe’s integration, our dealers now have a service that monitors and remediates possible accessibility issues while providing an array of tools to shoppers with accessibility needs to enhance their website experience. 

Looking ahead to 2021 

While 2020 brought some great partnerships and innovations, we cannot wait to show you what we have in store for 2021! DealerOn will continue working on new ways to ensure you can provide your customers with the ultimate digital dealership experience.