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By Awards Analyst | writer

March 25, 2021 | 5 min read was highly commended in the Consumer Insight category at the US arm of The Drum Awards for Marketing Awards in 2020. Here, find out how the team brought reputation management up to date, transforming the way automotive companies protect their brand in the social media era.

The challenge

Social media has entirely transformed the way businesses have to manage their reputations. As it becomes easier for consumers to share and trade information at speed, their changeable opinions can render expensive campaigns and promotions powerless. helps large, location-based enterprises engage consumers on the web, deliver a better customer experience and turn satisfied customers into online advocates. Today, the platform is used by 800 enterprises across 77 industries. This includes seven of the top ten global automotive OEMs and more than 10,000 auto dealerships in the U.S. alone, with a growing base in Europe.’s proprietary Reputation Score — recognized by many as the nextgeneration NPS — measures customer sentiment so brands can pinpoint areas that need attention. Expressed as a number between 0 to 1,000, Reputation Score is calculated using patented technology, as well as algorithms that collect and analyze data relevant to all factors influencing the health of a brand’s reputation.

For auto dealerships, data has shown that increasing Reputation Score by 30 points compared to other companies correlates to a 1% increase in sales volume. Additionally, actively managing their online reputations has shown to increase new car sales by 2.5 cars per month and up to 10% sales volume growth. auto report

The strategy

Historically, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been key to a successful customer experience strategy. But in the Feedback Economy, something more is needed. Developed in 2003, NPS is based on the design of a simple, structured survey that delivers structured feedback. There was little to no unstructured data in 2003, as online reviews and social media were still taking shape. Today, that ’data in the wild’ represents a brand reputation revolution: unstructured feedback far exceeds structured, continuing to grow and widening the gap. analyzed online data covering more than 16,000 dealerships in the United States from reviews, listings, social media, search results and customer engagements from sources such as Google, Facebook,, Edmunds and other sources. By leveraging its proprietary machine learning algorithms and natural-language processing technology, broke down actual customer feedback to understand what preoccupies auto consumers and make sense of their overall sentiments. By separated the dealership feedback into overall, sales-specific and service-specific, the team was able to understand the consumer sentiment around each.

The campaign released its Automotive Reputation Report, which provides the industry’s first and only ranking by brand that is based entirely on unfiltered customer feedback. To create it, the data science team applied artificial intelligence, machine learning and sentiment analysis to unstructured text of reviews and other online sources from 16,000 dealerships.

The results yielded rankings of the top OEM brands, dealer groups and the top 100 dealerships in 2019 based on Reputation Score, a comprehensive index of the digital presence of business locations in more than 70 industries. Others in the industry can use it to develop a winning strategy to connect with more customers and increase sales and service.

Key findings include:

• Lexus has the highest average Reputation Score (700+) for OEM Brands, along with the most consistent retail dealer locations.

• Lincoln is generating some of the most favorable consumer sentiment within the industry.

• Consumer review volumes are the greatest for Toyota retail dealers among all OEM brands.

The results

The report was the first of its kind for the automotive industry. In the 10 weeks since the report launched:

• 2,974 unique page views


• 1.2m social impressions, including targeted ads on Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram

• 82 leads from social

• Generated more than 24m media impressions

• Launched an Account Based Marketing campaign to top 100 dealerships and top dealer groups

• The overall campaign created a sales pipeline of more than $4M.

The report was also featured in national advertisements from AutoNation and Hendrick.

“Reputation Score is a vital measurement for Hendrick Automotive Group that’s discussed weekly in direct calls between every general manager and our executive team. Using the platform, we can monitor Reputation Score for each dealership and for the organization as a whole, drill down into the specifics for unprecedented insight into the service we’re delivering, and take immediate action on what we learn.” - Ed Brown, chief executive officer, Hendrick Automotive Group

“Reputation management has always been a priority to our business, and continuing to lead within our industry is really a testament to each of our 26,000 associates who do everything to create a best-in-class experience for our customers.” - Marc Cannon, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, AutoNation

“At Sonic Automotive and at our dealerships, we place significant importance and invest our efforts in managing our online customer reviews. We closely monitor and respond to all reviews, positive or negative. Daily reports are reviewed at all levels of our organization, including by our CEO and president.” - Rachel Richards, CMO, Sonic Automotive

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing in 2020. To find out which competitions in The Drum Awards are currently open for entries, click here.

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