There are several things to focus on when promoting your business digitally. Pay-per-click advertising. Social media management. Website design. How do you decide where to start, or where to focus your energy?
Let me tell you about a digital tool that is beneficial to both you and your prospects: customer reviews. Obviously, reviews help customers in their buying journey by giving them first-hand information on what they are buying. But reviews also help you, the business, by helping you get to know your customers and boosting your search engine optimization.
Reviews teach you about your customers.
Reviews are a great way to learn about your customers. They tell you what your customers like and don’t like about your product or service, allowing you to make appropriate corrections. Additionally, knowing what your current customers love (or hate) about your business helps you shape your advertising to potential buyers.
A customer’s path to purchase is directly impacted by reviews. Customers trust reviews more than other forms of marketing because they want to see that other people have had a good experience with your business. Great reviews are basically their own sales team that is available 24/7 and that you don’t have to pay!
Increased customer interaction with a company often leads to higher profits. Reviews encourage customers to interact with your company whether by prompting further research, or giving the review itself.
But what about poor reviews?
Don’t panic! According to Fan & Fuel, 34% of consumers say they like to see a mix of positive and negative written reviews. Seeing a variety of feedback feels more authentic to consumers.
Poor reviews can also teach you about what is happening at your business when you aren’t there. If someone leaves a bad review about your customer service or the way a product works, you now have something you can fix that you may not have known about otherwise.
Besides, a review (whether good or bad), simply provides more literature about your company, which is great for search engines!
Search engines and reviews.
Englander Davis found that “While there are a lot of factors involved in search rankings, online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates trustworthiness and authority.”
It makes sense that Google and other search engines use reviews to determine ranking because their goal is to help the consumer find the best product, service, or information. Companies that have proven to help other customers will likely help more, so Google puts them first!
According to the 2018 Local SEO Ranking Factors study performed by Local SEO Guide, customer reviews were the second-most influential factor when determining where a business shows up in the Local Pack. (The Local Pack is the group of local businesses that appear with the map at the top of a search engine results page).
Google also loves to learn. The more information it gets about your business, the happier it is. Reviews provide more reading material to search engines, giving them more knowledge about your services, which in turn encourages better search engine visibility.
So, how do you get reviews from your customers?
First things first, make sure you have accounts on all relevant review sites. Hiring? Set up Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed accounts where your current employees can review you. Offer travel or seasonal services? TripAdvisor is your friend. Do you focus on projects? Angi (formerly Angie’s List) is where you want to be.
Of course, claim your business on the major search engines, where any industry can thrive. (Not sure how to set up your Google My Business account? Let us help!)
Make it easy to post and find reviews. Unless someone has had an awful experience with you and is desperate to warn others, customers aren’t going to spend a lot of time looking for how to post a review. Make it easy! Add a QR code to receipts, put a link on the homepage of your website (many review sites, like Yelp, include a banner that you can post right on your page!), or include a link in your customer newsletters. Make. It. Easy.
Incentivize reviews with giveaways and raffles. Tell your customers (or followers) that anyone who leaves a review in X number of days will be entered to win a free product or service!
Respond to reviews – and be authentic about it! If you messed up, apologize. If the review is glowing, say thank you. Consumers buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. What easier way to get to know your customers than actively engaging with them?
But the most effective way to get reviews:
Just ask for them. Your most loyal customers only want your business to grow, so they should be ecstatic to write a review about why they love you. Ask for reviews in a social media post, in a newsletter, on air, at the register, in a thank you note – anywhere you can!