It may come as a surprise to you that 79% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Even more surprising, most people read 6 reviews or less before they form an opinion on your business. As you can imagine, this makes online reviews a powerful tool for establishing your company’s credibility and capturing new leads for your business.
Encouraging your customers to share their feedback online can be a very persuasive tool for converting new customers who are unsure about doing business with your company. 76% percent of consumers say that they commonly use online reviews to decide which local businesses to frequent. Online reviews, such as those on Google Places and Yelp,can have the same power as word-of-mouth marketing. Taking advantage of this can yield huge returns for your business.
Types of Online Reviews to Accumulate
Google Reviews. Google reviews (reviews shared on Google+ or Google Places) are arguably the most beneficial for your business. Google weighs these reviews into their algorithm that ranks where your business appears in their search results. This means that Google reviews are important for SEO. Google also pulls reviews from several popular review sites to complement their own reviews. The more Google reviews you accumulate, the more priority Google gives to your business when ranking your associated sites and your Google Places listing.
General Directories. Yelp, YellowPages, and Angie’s List are popular local directories that feature user reviews. Create a profile for your business on these sites if you’re not already listed. Much like Google Places reviews, they can factor into how your brand ranks on search engines. In fact, you may find that for many searches for local businesses, these sites are on the first page of results. This can direct leads to your website, especially if you have a good average rating.
Niche Directories. Niche directories focus on a specific industry related to your business. May industries such as restaurants, legal services, and home improvement have credible directories where you can list your business. For instance, people looking for home contractors may turn to industry-specific directories such as Homestars.com and EiEiHome.com to find specialized reviews. These sites often offer reviews widgets, which you can put on your website, so your customers can see real feedback your business has received right on your site.
Industry-specific directories are good for your SEO as they provide relevant and credible inbound links to your business, and feature content that is closely related to your business. As discussed in our link building blog, contextual inbound links (or links from sites with similar content to yours) are valuable as they confirm your business’s authority. Just be careful which niche directories you promote yourself on. Pick ones that are well established and look professional.
Social Media Reviews. You may find that some customers choose to review your business on social media. They may leave a comment on your company Facebook or Twitter pages, among others. Though these types of reviews are less influential for SEO, they are still good to have and lend brand credibility.
Tips For Getting Online Business Reviews
The truth is that most consumers aren’t likely to review on their own, especially if they have a positive experience. Those who have grievances to air are much more likely to share their opinions as a way to deter others from having the same experience they did.
Here are some things to keep in mind forgetting positive online reviews:
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Often business owners are concerned that asking their customers for reviews will make them seem desperate or tarnish their customers’ opinions. In reality, there’s no harm in asking. The worst a customer can do is ignore your request. Businesses that request their customers share feedback have a much better chance of getting reviews.
- Ask at the point of sale. Studies have shown that asking customers for feedback directly after they complete their transaction with you is the best time to ask for reviews – customers are more likely to share when the experience is fresh in their mind. It can be as simple as providing them with a post-sale email with a direct link to the site where you would like them to leave a review.
- Make it easy. The easier it is to leave a review, the more likely your customer will do it. If you provide them with a link, make sure it’s a direct link to your company page. Give clear instructions that reassure the customer it’s a short, simple process that won’t take much of their time.
- Follow up with email. If you have email addresses for your customers, don’t be afraid to follow up with them post-sale and politely ask them to share their experience. The sooner you do this after their interaction with your company the better. It gives the impression that their opinion matters.
- Add review site links to all your email communications. Much like many companies have adopted social media icons on all their email communications, adding review links can be valuable. It makes it easy for your customers to find the official channels to review your site.
- To offer an incentive or not? Often businesses think offering an incentive to their customers will increase the response rate. While that may be true, it isn’t a necessity. There are a number of your customers who will be willing to do it for free. Consider making a request without an incentive before you try a promotion – you might be surprised by how many of your customers are happy to help you out if you ask.
How to Handle a Bad Review
The downside to online reviews is that not all of them may be glowing. Despite your best efforts, your business might deal with less than favourable reviews at some point. How negative reviews are handled says a lot about your business. Most online review sites will allow your business a means to respond to reviews. Your customers will read your response and take note of how you deal with unsatisfied customers.
- Respond quickly
- Post a public response (send a direct response if you need to discuss confidential matters, but be sure to reply publically as well)
- Be polite
- Solve the problem
- Delete the review
- Get angry
- Be defensive
- Blame the customer
- Claim there is nothing you can do
The key to handling a negative review is turning a bad experience into a positive one. Read the customer’s review and provide a solution that addresses their problem. Make it clear that helping them is important to you. When handled correctly, the customer may even change their opinion on your business. Instead of remembering their bad experience, they think about the prompt customer service that corrected the issue. Sometimes, this may even result in the customer editing their review to note how the problem was dealt with to their satisfaction.
The Power of Online Reviews
Online reviews are beneficial to your business on many levels. Not only can they increase your credibility and encourage new customers to give your business a chance, but they can also give your SEO efforts a boost, resulting in more leads directed to your business through search engines. Even negative reviews can be an opportunity to demonstrate how your business handles problems and showcase your customer service skills.
Have you found that online reviews have generated new leads for your business? Have you ever had to deal with a negative review? Let us know about your experiences with online reviews and how you handled them in the comments below.
Eden Advertising is an online marketing agency that specializes in helping our clients grow their business through targeted cross-media campaigns. Contact us at 1-800-844-0106 to discover how we can help you strengthen your brand through online and offline channels.