How often do you visit a restaurant or store just because your friends told you it was awesome? In this digital age, many of us are becoming more introverted, in that we don’t take a friend’s advice in person so much as we study the reviews people leave on the Internet. Understand the importance of online reviews for your business, and then use it to your advantage in your marketing strategy.
Understanding the Importance of Online Reviews
Consumers trust online reviews. They affect your audience’s behavior, which can make or break your company’s success. According to a recent study, around 88% of consumers stated that they trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. Thus, customer reviews deeply affect a person’s buying decisions.
Online reviews often work best for companies that provide products and services directly to customers. When consumers visit your brick-and-mortar, they interact with you live and in-person, as opposed to an e-commerce business in which the interaction is completely online.
If your business is in one of these industries, you should make it available for reviews:
- Medical and law offices
- Bars and restaurants
- Spas, nail and hair salons
- Movie theaters
- Plumbers or other home contractors
- Pet services
- Real estate
- Any other business in which your customer receives a service in-person
In the case of e-commerce sites that do not have a storefront, consumers are really only interacting with the product. In this case, the product—not necessarily the business—should get a review.
Why does my business need customer reviews?
In addition to improving your credibility, displaying reviews on your website can help with SEO. It counts as new, original content on your site, which can help create higher authority on that page, and get it to rank in search results.
Customer reviews can help off site, too. Reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Google can help build your authority. If you have positive reviews there, visitors are more likely to be converted into customers.
In short, here’s why your business needs online customer reviews:
- They help customers make buying decisions because consumers trust other consumers.
- They give you credibility online, showing that you do what you say you’re going to do—and you do it well!
- They can add new, original content to your site and help with SEO.
Where can my business get reviews?
The purpose of web presence marketing is to grow your business’s visibility online. That means increasing the places your business exists on the Internet so more people can find you and interact with your brand.
Your owned media include all the places your business “owns” online. This includes your website, blog, social media profiles, business review directories, and more. The key to keeping this owned media optimized is making sure your branding is consistent across the board. Your profiles should display the same company name, address, phone number, website, and up-to-date business information. Having these profiles consistently updated helps increase your credibility online, and it can grow the chances of customers leaving you a review.
Your business should be on these business review directories:
- Google My Business
- Top social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn)
- Better Business Bureau
- City Search
- Insider Pages
- Amazon (if you sell products)
- Trip Advisor (if your audience is tourists)
Using customer reviews in your marketing
The importance of online reviews is simple—they help you convince clients that your product or service is the shizz (because previous customers said so). Use these reviews to your marketing advantage.
Promote your best reviews on your website. Start by getting permission from the customer. Then, add their name and maybe a picture to make the review authentic and genuine. Reviews on your website add credibility, but they could also answer consumer questions about how a product or service works or what the quality is like. You can also share positive reviews in email newsletters or social media posts.
Give customers easy ways to review. If user experience tells you one thing, it’s that your audience shouldn’t have to fight to find what they’re looking for. Keep forms short; make them easily accessible; or meet them where they are. Make sure your Yelp, Google My Business, and other business review directory profiles are up-to-date and verified.
Build a team of brand ambassadors. Use your veteran customers to your advantage through social amplification. If they’re happy with your services, ask them to share user-generated content with their followers. Promotion often sounds more trustworthy when it’s coming from a real person and not a brand page.
How to Ask Customers for Reviews
Ready to use customer reviews in your marketing? Start by getting some reviews, duh! You must know, though, that asking for reviews is a subtle science. Only ask happy customers to leave you a review. Also, avoid incentivizing reviews; that might get you in trouble.
In other words, don’t promise your customers a gift in exchange for a good review. Reviews should be authentic. The customer should elect to leave a review, as opposed to doing it for a reward. Try asking for a review before a happy customer leaves your restaurant or store. Or, you could ask in an email sent from an employee who worked directly with that customer. Keep it personal and comfortable for the customer.
Responding to a negative review
Last, keep a watchful eye of your review sites. Make it a goal to engage with your audience and respond to reviews every now and then. Always—and we mean always—respond to negative reviews. Responding makes your brand seem credible and compassionate. It shows that you care about your customer’s satisfaction.
Here’s how to respond to a negative review:
- Stay calm while responding. Never respond while you’re angry. We don’t want any Internet fights.
- Attempt to resolve their issue. Find out the source of the problem, and try to do something about it. Offer a discount on the next visit, or allow them to return a damaged item. Make their problem go away.
- Get them offline. Only respond to a negative reviewer once. Ask them to call or stop by your location to work out the issue with a manager or higher-up.
- Get positive reviews to push down the negative one by asking happy customers to give feedback.
Getting started with online reviews
Ready to put all this info about online reviews to work? Here’s what’s next in your local SEO journey:
- Optimize your owned media profiles,; AKA get your business flourishing and visible online.
- Ask happy customers to leave you a review on one of those sites.
- Use positive reviews in your marketing (on the website, in email marketing, in social posts, etc.).
- Respond to negative reviews to maintain your empathy and credibility.
- OR! Get Post Launch to help you manage all these local SEO tasks.