Living in a city with so many options, I often find myself scanning through the local reviews when deciding where to find my next bowl of pho. Many small businesses have a love-hate relationship with reviews. However, it can be said that the new rule of success for just about any local business is all about reputation.
Building reviews take time and require patience, but in return, but including this in your marketing strategy will set your business up for long term online proof for potential prospects and customers that your organization provides quality service. Here we’ll highlight the importance of local reviews for small businesses and how to get more of them.
Reviews Build Trust
When a customer is using a review platform like Yelp, Facebook or Google they typically already know what they need and are now trying to find how a business might fulfill that need. Don’t miss out on these warm leads! In fact, according to a recent study, 84 percent of shoppers said they trusted online business reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family.
Reviews help tell your business story about the quality of service and how people are treated when they do business with you. They have become such an influencer when it comes to building trust and making a good first impression. It is a critical tool for developing a level of comfort and trust with potential prospects.
Yes, bad reviews are inevitable but each piece of feedback should be a valuable consideration for how you’re conducting your business. And not having any reviews is only slightly better than having poor reviews. Without having a solid portfolio of reviews indicates that your business isn’t performing well enough for anyone to take the time to leave a positive review.
Reviews Help Local SEO
Google uses online reviews for ranking your placement in organic search results. Their algorithm is designed to provide the best search results for a given query, and online reviews are very good indicator of whether or not people like your business. According to MOZ, it is believed that online reviews account for 10 percent of how Google decides to rank search results.
Google My Business
Did you know that an optimized Google My Business listing can average 7x more clicks and are 50 percent more likely to lead to a purchase? It today’s digital world, small businesses must embrace reviews.
A growing percentage of local shoppers are no longer visiting websites before making contact, Geo-Fencing capabilities on mobile devices are providing local consumers with the information they need right from a Google Local Listing. This allows customers to easily call or find the physical address of your storefront. This means it’s important to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing so you are positioned on the top (above organic results) favorable for nearby prospects.
Things to keep in mind are ensuring your Name, Address and Phone Number (aka NAP) are correct on all local directory sites. It’s also important to actively respond to any reviews submitted to your listing and update these pages with relevant photos, holiday hours and business information.
Reviews Help Connect With Your Customers
Reviews provide an easy platform for any small business to connect with its customers. That means if a customer reviews your business be sure to take the time to follow up. This also builds credibility for others that read your reviews and see that you’ve taken the time to respond. Furthermore, you can learn about issues that you might not have known existed and easily provide a solution to their problem. This is a good way to turn a negative review into a positive experience and retain your customers.
Lastly, responding and connecting with your customer base makes each individual feel valued and important. This alone will help you stand apart from your competitors by building long-standing relationships.
How to Build Online Reviews
So now that we know why reviews are important, how do you get more of them?
Since reviews are a critical element in the decision stage for your buyer it is important to identify which channels you want to grow your reviews. These channels will be highly dependent on geographical targeting, industry, competition, and availability of your service.
Run a simple test doing a quick search query for “Best (company vertical) for (your business category or geographical area). The results of these searches will show you the top sites that businesses should prioritize such as Yelp, Google My Business, and others.
Next, your goal should be to identify reviewers. Take a look at your CRM and segment a list of top customers who have had a good experience with your company and use this for your outreach plan. For example, take a look at total spend or how many times a contact has done business with you. Then, send a marketing email or have your account managers reach out individually to ask for a quick five minutes to leave a review. Try to avoid contacts that have had a poor experience and make the process simple by providing them with a quick link to your listing directory.
Lastly, track your growth and benchmark the quality and number of reviews you gain from this initiative. Be sure to follow up with everyone that does take the time to leave a review, thanking them for their input. Continue this process quarterly to ensure you’re actively gaining new reviews from your latest customers.