More car shoppers turned to Cars.com than any other review site when using reviews to make their purchase decision, according to a new study by Digital Air Strike.

With over 200,000 Dealer Reviews on Cars.com, a 400% year-over-year increase, consumer demand for peer-generated review content is stronger than ever. Shoppers are turning to reviews throughout the buying process, allowing dealerships with strong online reputations to stand out from their competition. The bi-annual survey of more than 2,000 car buyers and 650 dealerships shows that 25% of consumers consider online review sites to be the “most helpful“ factor when deciding which dealership to purchase from.

“This study reinforces what we’ve always believed – shoppers find significant value in the reviews on Cars.com.” said Kit Read, Cars.com Dealer Reviews Product Manager. “Our internal studies show that shoppers that read reviews on Cars.com are far more engaged than those that don’t.”

Of car buyers surveyed, 61% indicated that they consulted Dealer Reviews on Cars.com before making their purchase, up from 55% in a similar study done in 2012. Edmunds (50%) and Google+ Local (37%) accounted for a significant share consumer engagement as well, with Yelp (14%) and Yahoo! (11%) being frequented considerably less.

While it’s important to get quality reviews across all sites potential customers may use to shop in your area, the study indicates shoppers are more inclined to visit primary review sites, such as Cars.com, Edmunds or Google, compared with smaller local review sites. To account for this, it’s important to emphasize major sites in your reputation management efforts.

“Dealerships that are successful make reviews part of their brand and embrace them as an important part of their day-to-day business,” added Read.

In addition to influencing customers on automotive marketplace and review sites, the study shows that online reviews play a critical role in how shoppers view dealerships on search engine results pages. An astounding 81% of surveyed car buyers who use review sites said they looked at review scores in search results. By having quality reviews on multiple sites, dealerships can benefit by filling SERPs connected to their name with positive customer feedback, instilling trust in the store’s brand.

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The importance of online reviews extends beyond the desktop shopping experience. The study revealed that 67% of car buyers search for a local business using mobile devices with 41% having “checked-in” to a local business using their mobile device. On Cars.com, we know that shoppers using a mobile device are 184% more likely to read online reviews compared with visitors to the desktop site.

Take charge of your dealership’s online reputation today by accessing the reputation management resources available at dealers.cars.com/reviews and by checking out the related articles below.

What does your dealership do to promote a positive online reputation? Let us know in comments below!

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