In the past, one of the best marketing benefits a local business could hope to achieve was word of mouth – generating an oral buzz of recommendation throughout the community. And while this is still a great way for your customers to communicate how spectacular your products and services are, it’s really not something you can measurably promote other than providing great service and asking people to spread the word (possibly offering them an incentive to bring a friend).
But as we all know by now, the marketing strategies of the past have changed since the internet is now the greatest medium for people to find local businesses. Local marketing strategies for small businesses have shifted from flyers to mailing lists, print ads to websites, and word of mouth to online reviews. In reality 70% of people trust reviews people they don’t know.
How Online Reviews Improve Your Prospect’s Perceptions
Here are a few reasons why you should focus on getting customer reviews for your business:
- When a customer writes a positive review, it helps others who are looking for the services and goods you provide have a better idea of what they will get when they choose you over a competitor.
- Customers are more careful than ever when they spend. This is due both to the recent economic downturn that has made people wise and to the wealth of information available.
- All of this leads to a better perception of your business, which in turn increases your reputation and ultimately builds consumer confidence (which leads to greater willingness to spend).
- In the end, it pays off for customers to do their research and there really is no better indicator than customer reviews for how a business actually works, not just how they say they do it.
What about negative customer reviews?
Of course, with the decline in customer reviews, there will be people who may not have had the best experience or who have not found what they were looking for with you. In these cases, you might receive neutral or bad reviews—it can be turned into a positive.
- One of the main benefits of getting customer reviews is that it allows you to eventually go to an unhappy customer and fix what went wrong.
- This not only means that you have another chance and earn a loyal customer because they feel you care enough to reach out and fix the situation, but prospects will also see that you are actively engaged with your business. and your customers.
- This lets people know that you care about your customer service and your product, which many local businesses often don’t get a chance to show until the customer walks in the door.
- Again, your reputation takes a big hit.
Do customer reviews help SEO?
But what’s more, one of the main reasons you should care about adding customer reviews as a focal point of your local marketing efforts is that it’s supposed to give your ranking a boost. search engine.
- When your business website appears on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), your reviews are displayed on the right side. Most of these reviews will come first from Google+, then Yelp, then industry-specific review sites.
- These SERP reviews will give your viewer immediate insight into what people think about your business and your reputation. As it is on the SERP, it immediately has more weight in the mind of the viewer since it seems more “official”.
- Reviews will also help you rank for your local keywords. While it’s not really in your hands, chances are the things people are looking for are the things people are reviewing about your business. should be optimized for.
How to get customer reviews
So while this is all great for business, many entrepreneurs still run into the same problem as word of mouth: How do you get people to rate your business?
- Ask! There’s no better way to get reviews than to simply ask your customers to write one. You can do this in person, on social media, provide a link in an email, have a Google+ review linked to your thank you page when an order is complete, and more. The point is, they won’t know you want advice until you ask. .
- Offer an incentive. If a customer leaves a review, maybe they get a discount? How about a free eBook download? Whatever incentive you can afford, do it.
- Whichever way you choose to do this, make sure you do it right after or as close to the point of purchase as possible. The likelihood of getting an opinion decreases over time.
Where are the best places to get customer reviews?
While there are a number of review sites out there, a few stand out and really count more than most.
- Google+ is one of the most important, although it does not immediately come to mind. While not as institutionalized as Yelp, Google+ reviews for local businesses carry more weight on the SERPs and are therefore better for SEO and visibility.
- Yelp is where everyone goes to check it out. While it’s a bit tricky to navigate, keep in mind that most Yelp reviews are organically generated as there are a ton of Yelpers out there.
- Amazon.com is great for reviews because they appear everywhere. Of course, you’ll need an Amazon account and store, but if you have one, really push the reviews here.
- Industry specific sites are great, such as Urbanspoon and FourSquare for restaurants, Houzz for contracts, Angie’s List, etc.
Reviews are a powerful tool! Use them to your advantage. They increase your reputation, your ranking and, ultimately, your results. What are you doing to get feedback on your business?