“I’ve never written an online review before, but after my experience with [insert company here], I…”
Drum roll. Did they love it or hate it? Are they ranting or raving? More importantly – does it even matter? Who actually reads online reviews (other than the business owners) anyway?
According to this study (and numerous others), almost everyone.
Consider the following:
- 90% of consumers read online reviews as part of their research.
- 68% use online reviews as a significant part of their purchasing decisions.
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- 74% of consumers cite positive reviews as a reason to trust a local business.
Word-of-mouth has always been an important source for lead generation, and online reviews are an important source of word-of-mouth. The more reviews you have, the more credibility you have with prospective consumers.
But wait, there’s more.
According to Search Engine Land, independent reviews can influence not only consumer trust but also search engine trust as well. This means engines like Google will rank highly-reviewed sites higher, putting your company’s name at the top of the list. The more reviews, the better the chance your company will show up on the Google’s first page. This is why it’s so important to encourage Google reviews.
This is all well and good, but how do you get your busy customers to take time out of their chaotic days to say a few words on your behalf? That part is a bit more difficult.
Here are a few ways to make it a little easier:
- Highlight review sites in your industry. Lawyers use Avvo. Doctors use ZocDoc. Plastic Surgeons use RealSelf. Locals use Facebook, AngiesList, Yelp, and BrightLocal for a whole host of nearby services. If there’s an industry site that means something to you, chances are it has a way of reviewing your business. Learn about it and ways to promote it on your website, newsletters, emails, and social pages.
- Engage with your reviewers. People love to see a business that checks in with its customers, so if a customer takes the time to review your product or service, return the favor! Encourage repeat business with a kind thank you to a positive review, and offer to smooth things over for a negative one. Just remember–future customers will see your dialogue, so respond with tact.
- Reach out to your happiest customers. People are usually more likely to complain than compliment, so if you want to shore up your positive reviews, ask for them! Keep in mind that some review sites have specific guidelines about solicited reviews, so play within the rules. One way to highlight a great review—especially ones you get via thank you email or in person—is to ask the reviewers permission to post on social media.
- Encourage ALL the reviews. Do not fear negative reviews! They are a great way to improve your business as well as your relationships with your customers. In fact, 52% of consumers say they trust a product MORE if there are a few negative reviews to even it up. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to direct attention to your other offerings or to show how awesome you are at solving problems.
Online reviews are an efficient—and inexpensive!—way to increase brand awareness and to make sure you are firing on all cylinders as a company. If you want to know more about reviews and how to incorporate them into your marketing efforts, my team and I are happy to help. Message me via LinkedIn or visit our website here.