A few weeks ago, I wrote a post asking whether online reviews could work in an offline setting, and the consensus was that this could be a useful tactic. 

To find out more, I spoke to Kia's John Bache, as well as Reevoo's CEO Richard Anson to find out more.

Kia has been using Reevoo reviews in its print and TV ads, as well as in its showrooms. It has worked well so far, and provides a lesson for other automotive brands. 

The case for automotive brands using reviews 

As I mentioned in a post last year, the automotive industry has been relatively slow (in general) to adapt to the web, and seems to have been reluctant to use reviews. 

I can understand that brands and dealers may have had concerns about reviews. After all, a few bad reviews could potentially damage sales, while consumers may vent their fury at dealers by poorly scoring the car itself. 

However, much car research takes place online and, as with other sectors, consumer and media reviews form a large part of this. Indeed, according to recent stats, 94% of new car buyers research online before buying. 

So, whether automotive brands like it or not, their potential customers are researching, and part of this research means looking for reviews. These researchers are going to find them, so isn't it better to make these resources available on your own site? 

This is the view taken by Kia, as its Head of Customer Communications John Bache explained: 

With customer research moving online, we wanted to adapt to that. We knew that customers were happy with our products, and we wanted to harness that. It was a leap of faith to some extent, but if people want to find reviews online they are there somewhere. We'd rather provide them and keep people on our site. 

It isn't just reviews of Kia's cars either. Customers can also leave reviews of the dealerships.

This helps to portray Kia as a more open brand, but can also have the added bonus of helping the company to uncover any customer issues, as well as incentivising the dealers to provide high levels of service. 

How has Kia used reviews offline? 

In addition to its use of reviews on the website, Kia has been actively promoting these user reviews offline. For example, visitors to its showrooms can see summaries of review scores: 

In addition, Kia used online reviews in its recent TV ad campaign, prompting viewers to head online to check out the opinions of people who have bought its cars.  

The sheer volume of reviews helps to build credibility too. Kia now has more than 4,000 user reviews on the site, with the majority being positive. 

How has this worked out? 

The results are impressive so far. Since launching the offline campaign in January, Kia has seen record numbers of site visitors, as well as record showroom sales.

  • Q1 web traffic was up 21% YOY at 3,383,249 visits.
  • Q1 dealer website traffic was up 72% on Q1 2012, at 487,124.
  • Q1 vehicle registrations were up by 12% at 19,204.

It should be noted that reviews online weren't the whole reason, though they have undoubtedly played a big part.

Kia has managed to get the basics right, such as having mobile optimised sites, and gearing them towards different user behaviour.

For example, Kia's mobile users are more action-orientated, and are looking to read reviews and find local dealers rather than request brochures, so the site is adapted to promote these actions. 

Reviews mean engagement

One effect of user reviews is that people are spending more time on Kia's site and taking actions after doing so. 

Users reading reviews are:

  • 484% more likely to request a brochure.
  • 300% more likely to book a test drive.
  • 509% more likely to search for a local Kia dealer.
Graham Charlton

Published 10 April, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (5)



Nice post Graham

For me however I would like to know how Kia go about getting consumers to leave reviews? Do they offer an incentive for doing so?

Because buying a new car in the most part is done offline via a dealership.

How does Kia then contact the customer and ask to leave a review on Reevoo and merge the offline buying cycle with on line feedback? and what's in it for the customer in doing so?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Ian Perhaps i should have added this to the article.

Customers are asked six weeks after purchasing a car if they'd like tio leave a review, they aren't offered any incentives.

According to Kia and Reevoo, 41% of those that are asked complete a review, while some will get involved on the website in the 'ask an owner' section, answering others' queries about the cars.

over 5 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Hi Graham, this is a really interesting strategy from Kia, and something that I think many more brands, not just those in the automotive industry, should take note of. Given that some bricks and Mortar businesses are struggling, especially those in the high street, I think harnessing online interest in an offline capacity is the way forward, and this is one of the best examples I've seen. Great post.

over 5 years ago


Kimberly McCabe

What a great example of how creating the ability for people to engage with your brand can have a positive impact on your brand. Our software at sitecore.net also helps marketers target and personalize the customer journey. Also, it helps people re-purpose content such as this to appropriate pieces of content.

over 5 years ago


Jay maddireddy, Chief Architect at 404-375-7859

Graham, it is great strategy. Kia, as a brand is achieving unprecidented milestones. I have been suggesting any number of owners to simply keep purchasing Kia stores and hold them for 5-10 to see their valuations doubled!
We built a CSI Booster/Reputation driver to bring any where dfrom 60-100 Google reviews per month, and about 300-600 DealTimer reviews per month, of which 60-100 are negative feedback reviews, giving an opportunity to fix the issue and retain the customers.

about 1 year ago

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