James River Equipment dates back to 1926 with the opening of its first John Deere dealership in Holly, Colorado. Fast forward to today and James River Equipment is now 44 locations strong serving customers across Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
In addition to adding and acquiring locations, the dealership has also grown over the years to meet the needs of a more digitally-driven buyer. What used to be a very experiential purchase – with buyers wanting to see it, feel it, drive it before they purchase – is increasingly becoming digital-first, meaning customers go online to research before setting foot in the store.
While heavy equipment buyers aren’t exactly purchasing front loaders and compact tractors online, it’s still where many buyers start. In fact, Gartner notes that B2B buyers spend 27% of their purchase time doing online research.1 James River Equipment knew it had to adapt and focus on being found when customers were looking for them online.
In an effort to optimize local search, and streamline listings and online reputation management, marketing leaders at James River turned to Uberall. Uberall helped James River get the basics right - cleaning up and claiming listings and centralizing review management. From there, James River continued to tune and optimize its digital presence. Today James River locations appear in the Google 3-pack, the first three organic search results, 94% of the time.
Our online reputation and digital presence is more important than ever with more buyers starting their research online. Uberall ensures we not only appear when people search, but that we show up first.
Cultivating Local Listings for 40+ Dealerships
James River Equipment reached out to Uberall initially as a way to take back control of its listings, and do so at scale. It was taking James River’s marketing team a significant amount of time each week. Whenever updates needed to be made to store hours due to seasonal changes, holiday closures, or other special hour needs, marketers would have to go through five or six platforms to change all the hours across 43 locations.
When I started at James River, we didn’t even have Google My Business. We had unclaimed listings with misinformation, we had stores that were closed when online sources said they were open. One of my first priorities was getting a hold of our listings, making sure everything was correct, and managing our online reputation. We were able to do that efficiently with Uberall.
Revving Up Review Management
While responding to reviews in Google My Business and Facebook can be done natively through each platform, with 400+ reviews per year, it quickly became too time consuming for the marketing team to manage. Yet each dealership's online reputation was critical to new customer acquisition.
If you move to the area and have a John Deere piece of equipment, in many cases you have a choice of dealers. We aren’t the only game in town. Our online reputation might influence a customer's choice to come to us vs. a neighboring town that has a John Deere Dealer. Uberall helps us cultivate relationships with customers and make sure every review is touched.
Before Uberall, Matt barely had enough bandwidth to focus on negative reviews. Now he is able to respond to every review in a timely fashion with alerts for negative reviews, along with templated responses to use as a starting point.
Tuning Its Listings Engine to Run Like a Deere
With an increased focus on listings and reviews, James River Equipment quickly moved up in local search, ranking in the Google 3-Pack 94% of the time for relevant keywords like “tractor dealer,” and “construction equipment supplier.”
With such a strong showing in organic search, the volume of calls and website inquiries increased. However, Matt noticed there were a lot of people calling construction stores looking for agriculture equipment and vice versa. Not only was this issue creating extra work for Matt and his team, rerouting inquiries to the appropriate service dealer, it was also creating a poor customer experience.
Before Uberall we were getting a ton of inquiries at our construction stores for agricultural equipment. It still happens because people think you are a John Deere dealer and that you sell everything John Deere, but contractually, each store is only able to sell certain inventory at certain dealerships.
To reduce the volume of inquiries for the wrong products, James River Equipment went through the process of getting all its categories in order across all the different platforms. Matt and the Uberall team started by defining what they wanted to show up for an Ag & Turf store, a construction store, and a dual Ag & Turf and construction store. Because not every network has the same categories, Matt and team went through every location and every network making sure they were consistent.
Uberall made it easy to clean up all our categories across 43 locations. After the listing category cleanup, we’ve seen a 40% to 50% drop in calls for the wrong products. It’s made a huge difference.
¹Gartner - https://www.gartner.com/en/sales/insights/b2b-buying-journey
*2020 data, **YOY comparison, 2019 to 2020