This article is part of a new series on marketing your small and mid-size business. Have your own tips? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Since most people consult Google more than their neighbors, online reviews have become the modern buyer’s best friend. Good public feedback can instill a sense of trust in your business, and trust equals sales.
BrightLocal’s 2018 Local Consumer Review Survey found that 86% of consumers read reviews of local businesses. It’s the safety in numbers mindset, and a solid cache of (positive) online reviews can be one of the most powerful players in boosting your company’s client acquisition.
Bonus points? Think of customer reviews as free advertising.
We’ve all been there, scouring the internet reading strangers’ firsthand accounts of a purchase experience. Curious — but not ready to commit — we go down a rabbit hole of online reviews. Then, after getting enough virtual thumbs ups in the form of words and star ratings, we take the leap to complete the sale of a product or service.
Think of customer reviews as free advertising.
The influence of reviews can be the deciding factor for someone on the fence. And that means in order to have a game-changing foothold in your market, it’s important to have a strong presence in the online review community. Here is where and how to encourage more feedback from your clientele.
Step 1: Build your site business profile
First thing’s first: Build it (your review site business profile), and they will come (to leave a review). Here are 10 key online review platforms you should be on to spread your small business’s big and growing reputation:
- Google My Business
- Yahoo! Local
- Amazon Services
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
So you’ve set up your business profiles across various review sites but you’re new to this. Now you want to hear mountaintop-praising customers — not crickets.
Step 2: Get good reviews for your business
How do you get the online conversation started so that your review profiles look like filled-out masterpieces of enthusiastic advocates rather than blank canvases?
Ask your customers to leave a review
Ask and you shall receive. BrightLocal found that 66% of customers who were asked to leave a review followed through. 66%. When you actively encourage satisfied customers to leave a review, you’re also ensuring that your review profiles aren’t just playgrounds for complaints.
While some online review portals threaten to penalize profiles with “baited” reviews, reminding happy clients that you have a profile and always appreciate honest feedback is common practice and just plain makes sense.
- Every time someone expresses satisfaction, in person or by other means, reply with a reminder of how helpful an online review is. Do you have a card handy that can direct them to your review sites and handles? Even better.
- Follow up each purchase with an email receipt that includes direct links to your review sites.
- Online services/sites can have an in-app CTA (call-to-action) rating message; brick-and-mortars can have physical placards/table-top reminders.
Include links everywhere
Link to your review site profiles across your online networks.
- Include review sites on your website’s social media icon list.
- Link to a review button (i.e. Yelp) in your email signature.
- Include a reminder about your review sites on all email campaigns/newsletters.
Step 3: Harness the power of social influence
Spotlight past positive reviews. This not only spreads the supportive feedback, it proves to your customer base that if they take the time to write about your small business, it’s genuinely valued and makes a difference.
When you actively encourage satisfied customers to leave a review, you’re also ensuring that your review profiles aren’t just playgrounds for complaints.
In other words, when they see that you see it and forward it for others to see it, they’re more likely to make the effort to write a review.
- Repost quotes from positive reviews on your social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, attributing credit and thanks (remember to tag the author if possible to keep the appreciative dialogue open). Invite your readers to follow suit and share their own experience with a review.
- Repost quotes from a review as an image on your business Instagram feed for followers to see.
With your business in good standing on various review sites, watch as the online word-of-mouth serves as effective advertising for you and your great service.