One of the best secret weapons small business owners have when it comes to building confidence in their business is good online customer reviews. Customer reviews are not only essential, but they’re also a proven business strategy for building your location-based business. But don’t take our word for it, either. Read some of these examples of why online customer reviews are so vital.
Today, we’re going to focus on the three key pillars of developing a solid customer review marketing strategy. First, though, let’s look at why having customer testimonials appear on your business listings is so important. And, to do so, let’s look at some statistics:
- If you have less than a 4-star rating, over half of consumers won’t use your business.
- It takes less than 10 reviews for 90% of people to form an opinion about your business.
- WHOA! 72% percent of people won’t take action before consulting online reviews.
- 15% of customers will not trust a business if they don’t have reviews to consult.
- Consumers will spend up to 31% more on a business that has great reviews associated with it.
- WHOA! Google accounts for 57.5% of all reviews available in the world.
- WHOA! 63.6% of consumers visit Google to check for reviews of a business.
- 73% of consumers consider written reviews to be more important than star and number ratings.
- LOCAL ALERT! Positive reviews encourage 68% of consumers to use a local business.
- Have more than four negative reviews about your business? That may decrease sales by 70%.
These are just a few of the many statistics available about reviews. We encourage you to read others right from our source.
So now that you understand the importance of your business’s reviews, it’s time to learn the three pillars of a customer review marketing strategy.
Pillar #1: Make sure that you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing (and other directories)
While we’ve written a comprehensive post that details everything you need to know about Google My Business, it’s important to reiterate that a sound review marketing strategy starts with owning your listings. Why is this so important? There are several reasons.
Owning (claiming) your listing gives you full control over what business information is placed there. Yes, this refers to all the key elements you would think of, including your business name, address, phone number, business description and more. What this also does is allow you to 1) get alerts whenever someone leaves you a review and 2) respond to reviews and have those responses appear as being from you, the business owner (more on that soon).
Owning your listing is the first step to having a successful online review marketing strategy.
Pillar #2: Respond to your reviews
Use the alerts mentioned above (see, told you it would be soon) to stay on top of the feedback you’re getting – and help guide your response. When reviews are positive, get in there and thank your customers, share your positive experiences with them and validate their visit and the reasons why they gave you that positive review in the first place. When reviews are negative, think of them as an opportunity to learn about your business, rebuild consumer trust and turn the negative into a positive. Most people will be shocked that you’re paying attention and care. This is a good thing. Take advantage and get them back on your side.
Another very important factor was validated by Google earlier this year. The company confirmed that responding to reviews is an important factor in getting your local business ranked in a “local pack”. In fact, in the Google My Business help section, they explicitly state that responding to reviews is a vital element to improve your local ranking on Google:
Manage and respond to reviews
Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.
Pillar #3: Ask for reviews
At the tail end of Google’s note about how to manage and respond to reviews, you may have noticed the following note to “Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews.”
So Google is encouraging you to encourage people to leave reviews. Excellent! When you consider how competitive it is to get into the Local Pack and rank well organically, coupled with the fact that the average local business has 39 Google reviews associated to their listing (same sources as our previous statistics), you can see why it becomes important to solicit reviews from your best customers.
There are many ways you can go about this, some easier to implement than others. Here are some ideas:
- Personally email your best customers asking them to support your business with an online review.
- Plant a link to your listing in your email signature.
- Add a URL to your receipts
- Embark on a drip email campaign with requests and links
- Use a specialized tool to monitor reviews, send out requests or embark on a campaign
These are just some ideas, and we’re able to help with any online review marketing strategies as well, even the more involved processes.
Go beyond Google if need be!
While we’ve talked a lot about Google here for its obvious power via its market share alone, it’s important to consider other search engines, directories, social networks and mapping technologies too. So if you’re established on Facebook, point reviewers there. If you’re reliant on Yelp, ask for reviews there and continually monitor that network. But remember where most people search, and that’s on Google. It’s likely that for most businesses, Google will have the greatest impact on traffic to your store and to your website.
What are some of your strategies to generate reviews? How do you go about monitoring for them? Do you respond? Let us know in the comments below.
One of our clients is a relatively new custom jewellery wholesaler with a family tradition of over 70 years behind it. They were referred to 10|20 Marketing by another one of our clients – they wanted help with organizing and optimizing their existing Google My Business listing and getting on other online directories. Though the reputation of the owners was well known in the community, the new business name and location were not.
The following is a Local Listing Case Study about a jewellery business that shows how adding posts and online reviews to your Google My Business listing can have a significant impact on the number of times Google presents your listing in search results. With more views comes more website visits and other purchase intent-based actions.
Maison Goldberg Bijouterie has worked with 10|20 Marketing since November 2018. When we first met, the client explained that their website was changing, notably with the addition of an e-commerce platform. Also, they were starting to establish a following on Instagram and Facebook, but relying solely on organic growth.
After meeting with us, the client decided to move forward with three of our services:
Our local listings management offer helps clients own, organize and optimize their listing on Google My Business and the web’s other most relevant directories, such as Facebook, Yelp, Bing, Foursquare and Apple Maps. We make sure that all the information in these listings is consistent from one directory to the next by monitoring them for changes from directory users. The more consistency you build across the web, the more Google rewards your business with views of your listing.
Review marketing helps clients monitor their online reviews and respond to them from a single platform. Also, our clients can send email or SMS invitations to their clients, asking them for Google reviews. The best reviews can then act as marketing content, sent automatically from our platform to the client’s Facebook or Twitter account as a post or tweet. Google appreciates these authentic reviews and will again reward businesses with more views as new reviews come in. Gaining new positive reviews also helps businesses solidify their credibility with people searching for what they offer.
To understand Google My Business posts, you’ll have to think of a Google My Business listing as a social media channel. As part of your listing, you’re able to add business updates or product descriptions with photos and links. Google My Business posts are powerful because they allow you to add more written content to your listing. The more content, the more terms you feed into Google to index for your listing. For Maison Goldberg Bijouterie, we post content at least twice a week.
Maison Goldberg Bijouterie’s goal is to build awareness of their business, establish credibility and build online sales. After accessing data from the Google My Business platform, we have a year’s worth of data from before the client started working with us and five months of data since being placed on our Local Listings Management and Review Marketing platforms.
Here are the monthly averages for views and action clicks, as well as the total number of reviews before subscribing to our service and after:
|GMB Views Per Month
|GMB Actions Per Month
While these numbers are impressive to us, our client is even happier.
“We’re thrilled with the way we’ve been able to increase the visibility of our business with the help of 10|20 Marketing,” says Keely Goldberg, owner of Maison Goldberg Bijouterie. “More specifically, though, we’ve listened to their advice on how to approach building a deeper bank of reviews on our Google listing and we’ve received authentic reviews from our clients about their experience working with us – all in a very short time. This helps us establish immediate credibility with people who are looking for our services and helps us create more business.”
The proof is in the charts as well. Have a look at the 18 months of data we’ve collected.
We believe that this is the beginning of the first new plateau, as we discussed in our optometry case study. Also, by helping the client generate reviews, they’ve been able to maintain a stellar 4.9 average rating on Google. This is a reflection of their excellent personalized service and their ability to drive the right reviewers to their profile. While we can’t help with the former, we do help with the latter!
We monitor metrics on an ongoing basis to help our clients understand the impact of our optimizations on their Google My Business listing. In the coming months, we will continue to collect and trend the client’s metrics, digging out insights and suggestions to continue to improve their results. Of course, we’ll work with the client to generate more reviews, post new content to their Google My Business listing and continue to build consistency with their listings.
We’ll leave the last word to our client. “10|20 Marketing has helped us understand and utilize all the tools that Google has to offer,” says Keely. “Our business wouldn’t be where it is today without their help.”
Thank you, Keely! We’ll update this case study in the fall to see where these metrics stand.
10|20 Marketing Case Studies
We invite you to read our other case studies to learn how our services have brought tangible value to other clients in different industries.
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The Local Search Association offers a wealth of resources for retailers, small business owners and local business operators. Their mandate is to help bring clarity to the value and importance of local online marketing optimization. While reviewing the Infographics section of their website, we found some data points that stand out.
Let’s review them.
Local Search Association Statistics
Most Helpful Sources For Finding Local Business Info
Digital channels are the most helpful for finding local business information, lead by search engines. Search engines are even more important than the company website, which highlights the critical importance of optimizing your Google My Business account (GMB). A big part of GMB optimization includes ensuring that ratings and reviews are added to the listing and responded to by business owners.
Doing so helps Google decide how often to present your listing and, more importantly, they help consumers decide whether to visit your location or not.
Local Marketing Reaches Undecideds
4 in 5 consumers using search engines to find local information. 63% of local search queries made by people who are undecided on a provider or retailer. So you can begin to see why it’s so important to be optimized. Try these other statistics on for size too: Local Searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day, and address and location are the primary pieces of information sought by local searchers.
Put all these numbers together and it’s clear why Google My Business, Bing Local and other services such as Yelp and Foursquare are so important for your local marketing. Mapping technologies such as Apple Maps, TomTom and others also help you get found easily, while serving to provide additional SEO benefits to GMB.
Ask For A Local Review
The above statistic is fantastic and what you should take away from it is simple. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Reviews actively play an essential role in consumer behaviour and are used as the tiebreaker for where to shop and what to buy.
BirdEye is an online reputation tool that helps small business owners generate positive online reviews. They cites that 92% of customers read online reviews, and 68% trust a local business more if it has positive reviews. So if 68% percent of the people you ask for reviews will give you one, and you ask people who think positively of you, you’re more likely to convert someone who searches for local solutions like you offer to a sale.
We’ve often cited this one last statistic, also from the Local Search Association, in our marketing materials.
According to a study conducted by the Local Search Association, about $10.3 billion worth of potential annual sales are lost because of wrong, missing, or incomplete local business information.
Think of the power of that statement. And then think of the power of being optimized to intercept searches from your business listing. The business potential is unlimited.
Full disclosure: 10|20 Marketing is a BirdEye believer. We resell their platform to our clients and have seen them enjoy tremendous success generating new reviews on their directory listings when they use this platform.
The new Apple Watch Series 4 was released last week, and now that we’ve been able to play around with it, we see some incredible potential for it within the location marketing world. As a result, small business owners should be aware of some of the more obvious reasons to keep tabs on the Apple Watch – and some that are more obscure.
3 Obvious Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses
Let’s start with the obvious reasons and why they’re essential to the small business owner. First, it’s important to note that the Apple Watch, since the Series 3 iteration released last year, is available in an LTE version. LTE functionality allows users to stay connected via data and phone services to people and their apps. As a result, iPhone apps are now available on your wrist, for the most part, even when you leave home without a phone.
Online Directories and Reviews
Apps such as Maps, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Booking Now and other vital directories become even more crucial. At the turn of their wrist, your customers can now find you, read reviews about your location and decide whether or not your business is worthy of theirs. As a result, having a strong directory presence and review building strategy becomes even more critical to small business owners.
Another way that Apple Watch can impact small businesses is through payments. Apple’s Wallet app is available on the watch, making it easy for customers to pay you. All it takes is a tap of the watch your terminal and, just like that, you’ve received your payment. This makes having a console that is optimized for tap and Apple Pay even more important than ever. For some consumers, knowing that you keep up with technology is a key reason for them to visit your business location. As of February of this year, it was reported that over 127 million people worldwide are using Apple Pay. And that number is only going up.
2 More Obscure Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses
Geofencing + Business Alerts
Geofencing is the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. As a result, you can push an alert or coupon to Apple Watch users who are close to your business. With the haptic feedback from the watch “tapping” the wearer on the wrist, people will be aware of your alert sooner because they will feel it – and not discover it waiting on their phone when it’s too late because it was sitting in a purse.
Running Your Small Business
Time to look at the other side of the coin as well. While the Apple Watch can help you attract people to your business, it can also help you become a more efficient business owner. There are several apps designed to help you run your business and keep you on task. From CRM apps to ones for accounting and invoicing, or note-taking applications to reminders and to-dos, the Apple Watch can help you focus on what you do best and service the people who do come through your doors – all thanks to the navigation apps on their wrist.
As a small business owner, what’s important is being aware of the potential of this watch. It’s not that you’re expected to do all these things, but trying even one of the tactics may be the one thing to get on the radar of your potential customers. And that might very well be enough to turn someone’s indifference for your business into a real difference for your business.
Meeting with clients every day, we get to see their frustrations with online strategies, promises of improved SEO and solutions that have come, been paid for and gone. We talk about SEO – and the corner of it that we operate in – as a series of small improvements that add up to make a big impact.
What we’re seeing now, with the adoption of online review building solutions now a stable of our offering, is that a steady stream of reviews can have a significant impact on getting discovered and generating conversions to sales. Building online reviews does have seen success, but don’t take our word for it. We’ve been reading quite a bit and have found some really great articles around the web that point out the reasons why.
We encourage you to have a look at these and join us back here in the comments for a discussion about building online reviews.
• Reviews are the Most Prominent Local SEO Ranking Factor in 2017
Search Engine Journal, November 13, 2017
A business with a significant number of reviews on its Google My Business page can rank relatively well in local packs. However, it’s not just the number of reviews that matter. Even more important than quantity of reviews is what’s being said in those reviews. Google My Business pages with reviews that mention a keyword, and/or the name of a city, were found to have higher rankings in Google’s local pack. (Read more)
• The Impact of Online Reviews on Businesses
BrightLocal, March 15, 2017
Key ‘Takeaways’ From This Post
- Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products/services from businesses that have excellent reviews.
- 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- A negative review can drive away approximately 22% of customers
• How Online Reviews Impact Local SEO and Why They Matter to Your Bottom Line
Shopify, February 7, 2018
Typically, by the time someone has started looking at review websites (like reviews on your product pages or Facebook, Epinions, Angie’s List, or elsewhere), they’ve already figured out what they need and how a business might ideally fulfill that need. The critical thing to note is that the mental gap between reading a review and making a decision is ridiculously small — and customers typically decide yes or no almost immediately. So, as a small business, your online reputation can directly influence your bottom line. (Read more)
• Why Online Reputation Management Is Like Brushing Your Teeth
Entrepreneur, December 17, 2015
Think about why you brush your teeth. You don’t do it because your teeth are brown and dirty. You do it preventatively. It’s a habit that’s good for you because it impacts your long-term health and the look of your smile. Now think what would happen if you waited until your teeth were gross before you decided to start brushing. Your teeth might fall out. You’d probably get gum disease. Your smile would be tarnished and discolored. It might be too late to fix everything and, at the very least, you’d have a lot of ground to make up. Brushing your teeth is an insurance policy against all those negative outcomes. Online reputation management (ORM) works the same way. Many folks realize how important their online presence is only once they have a problem — a nasty negative, an ex’s rant, a sketchy forum that sticks out like a sore thumb, etc. We fix these results, but it can take months and months, or even years. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. (Read more)
• Why you always need to get online reviews?
You could have hundreds of reviews and a high average star rating, but if your most recent review is from a year ago, for all a customer knows you could be a completely different business by now. How do they know that your current staff is as friendly and knowledgeable as last year’s? How can they be sure your product quality hasn’t declined over time? If customers haven’t been reviewing your business lately, who have they been reviewing instead? (Read more)
These are just a handful of articles about the importance of building online reviews that are available online. It’s a topic we’re always happy to discuss too.