Online reviews impact a business’ bottom line. Let’s break down why they’re so important, how you can increase the number of reviews you have, how to respond to them, and how you can use them to boost your business.
Why reviews are important
In this digital age, consumers are constantly bombarded with information. One online search presents hundreds of results. When a potential customer visits your website or views your Google listing, your reviews help to differentiate you from your competitors.
In a recent study, 93 percent of consumers state that online reviews impact their purchase decisions, while 76 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from loved ones.
Positive or negative reviews have the power to be a great marketing asset for your business or a cautionary alarm for consumers. They can also give you key insights into the needs of your customers and tips on how to improve. First thing first, you need to get reviews.
Asking for reviews
Some customers are self-motivated to post a review for a business while others need an invitation before doing so.
Online platforms tend to have different opinions regarding review soliciting. For example, it’s against Yelp’s policy to ask for reviews. Google has a different stance and encourages businesses to remind customers to leave reviews, while Facebook seems pretty impartial. It’s important to be aware of which platform you are driving reviews to and whether it’s allowed.
A customer can be invited to leave a review through professional texting platforms, emails, over the phone, or in person. You can implement environmental cues, such as reminders on a handout or poster. Try to include a personal touch as that helps to build the customer relationship.
As you create your own review strategy, keep in mind that the fewer steps the customer has to do, the better. If you are using technology to ask for reviews, use a direct link that opens up a Google or Facebook review form to decrease the number of steps. QR codes can be used in print to direct a customer to a specific online link.
An important thing to remember is to do it in a timely manner. The best time to ask for a review of your business is right after a transaction while your business is still on the customer’s mind.
Responding to reviews
Once your business starts receiving more reviews, the next step is to acknowledge each one.
According to Bright Local, 97 percent of consumers say they read business’ responses to reviews and 71 percent state that they are more likely to choose a business that responds to their existing reviews.
Responding to the negative reviews in a clear, calm, and empathetic manner helps to build customer relationships as well as establish trust in other users reading the response. Keep in mind that once you reply, everyone on the internet has access to see it. Potential customers read them to see how you respond to other customers’ issues.
The positive reviews may not seem as significant to a busy small business owner or marketer, but they are very important. Someone took the time to support your organization, and that is huge. Responding to these reviews increases customer retention and again, builds trust.
How to use reviews
After a business responds to reviews, some may think that the job is done. However, testimonials are an insight into how the customer views your business. Don’t take that information for granted. Use reviews to gather data, build credibility on your website, and show authenticity on social media.
Analyzing trends within the verbiage of testimonials presents helpful information. This could tell you what good or service you are most known for, how customers heard of you, or what customers value most about you, whether it’s your incredible customer service or unbeatable prices. Recognize common keywords that are used, since they are keywords that you can use in SEO or advertisements. Take heed to suggestions that are given. After all, the customer knows firsthand where you can improve.
Your website is a platform that establishes your brand and drives leads. Using testimonials as a tool to increase credibility will help solidify your brand and in turn get more leads. This can be done by creating a testimonials section on your home page, service pages, or location pages. You could also gather testimonials together on their own page. Integrate reviews from every platform and don’t filter them by star amounts. The potential customer will be able to tell if you’re withholding negative reviews.
Social media is also a smart place to share reviews. While so much content is curated, a direct quote from a customer will show authenticity in your brand. This is the online version of word of mouth and a huge advantage for businesses.
Testimonials are important in customer retention and marketing for any business. As you increase your number of reviews by invitation, respond to those reviews and use them to your advantage through analyzing trends, including them on your site, and finding keywords, you will strengthen your brand and increase leads.
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ODLAND is an Internet Marketing Associate at Fox Pest Control. She graduated from Utah State University with her Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a minor in psychology. You can reach her at email@example.com.