Have you Googled your business lately? You may be surprised at what you find, and those results shouldn’t be taken lightly. With a simple click of a mouse, it’s easier than ever for consumers to compare businesses and services on public review sites such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List. More importantly, these star ratings are driving consumer purchasing decisions. BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey revealed:
- 97% of consumers read online reviews, with 12% looking for a local business online every day.
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 73% of consumers trust a local business more if it has positive reviews.
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
Online customer reviews do not only have an impact on buying habits, they can also improve your business’ search engine results. According to MOZ's Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are believed to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results.
How Can You Generate Reviews?
In addition to being aware of your business’ current online reputation, owners should invest time in encouraging online reviews that showcase the quality of your products or services. Your first step needs to be optimizing your profiles on the review sites that matter most to your business. Don’t forget industry-specific sites. For example, if you are a real estate professional, you should have a presence on Zillow and Trulia. Locate your business profile on these online directory and review sites, claim the page, and completely fill out the profile information. You’ll also want to bring your listing to life with any photos and videos your business has available.
Once your profiles are developed, you can put them to work for your business. Here are 5 ways to boost your customer reviews:
1. All You Have to Do Is Ask
The best way to get a happy customer to share a review, is to ask him or her in person — especially if the associate making the request has spent a lot of time with the customer. If a customer approaches you with positive feedback or praise, make the suggestion they write a review on their favorite site. Note: Be careful about encouraging customers to write reviews while they are still at your brick and mortar location. Some review sites will penalize your business for having reviews submitted from the same IP address.
2. Use Reputation Marketing Software
We’d be hard-pressed to find a business owner that doesn’t think time is a valuable asset. There are a variety of reputation marketing software solutions that can help to automate the process of acquiring and monitoring reviews across a variety of ratings sites. Most software options also allow business owners to create comprehensive reports and export customer data. ReviewTrackers, GetFiveStars and Grade.us are popular cost-effective options that range from $49 to $70 per month.
3. Educate and Remind With Emails
The optimal time to ask for a review is within a few days after the transaction – the customer has completed their purchase, but the experience is still top-of-mind. Create an email template kindly requesting feedback that can be personalized and sent out to satisfied customers. Make sure the email communicates how the recipient can leave a review and provide links to the sites on which you are looking to build reviews. Most reputation marketing software solutions have an email component with customizable templates.
4. Promote Positive Reviews
Sharing reviews on your website and social media pages will not only maximize these third-party endorsements, but will encourage other customers to provide their reviews as well. Strategically feature reviews on your website near the primary calls-to-action to increase the likelihood of getting your visitors to take action. For example, if you have a special offer on a new product or service, place one or two positive testimonials near the button where customers can click to learn more about the product or make a purchase. You can also include raving reviews in your promotional emails to encourage recipients to click through.
5. Respond to Reviews
Review sites give some business owners anxiety over the fear of a public negative customer experience. However, negative reviews can be a great way to show your commitment to customer service and turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate. You can proactively manage your online reputation by developing customized responses to negative reviews. Acknowledge the issue being addressed by the customer, take ownership if you or an employee was at fault, and ask the customer to reach out directly to learn more about their experience and explore if there’s anything you can do. Don’t forget to respond to thank customers for positive reviews within a reasonable amount of time and use it as an opportunity to reinforce what they loved about their experience.
Lakeland Bank offers a full range of business banking services to help you manage your finances, including online services, business loans, and cash management solutions. Our Customer Contact Center can be reached at 866-224-1379.