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.
For Immediate Release
10|20 Marketing Inc.
4810 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest #203-B
Montreal, QC H4P 2N5
10|20 Marketing Announces
Licensing Agreement with SweetIQ
10|20 Marketing’s local listings management services now powered by SweetIQ’s award-winning platform and analytics.
Montreal, Quebec: 10|20 Marketing is proud to announce its licensing agreement with SweetIQ to help small business owners connect with consumers by boosting brand awareness through reviews, consistent local content, and keyword monitoring. With the importance of local search only growing, it’s essential that businesses are found where people are searching for them. That means on search engines, review sites and mapping technologies.
“We’re very happy to be aligned with SweetIQ and their world-class platform. The opportunity to get in front of small business owners with a platform that is dependable, easy to use and consistently improving allows us to offer our clients stability, giving us the confidence required to build our business,” said Jamie Goren, Co-Founder of 10|20 Marketing.
After SweetIQ’s recent acquisition by ReachLocal, a USA TODAY NETWORK company and a part of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), the company is happy to extend the reach of its platform to 10|20 Marketing’s customers, small business owners and smaller chains that wouldn’t otherwise have access to this enterprise software solution.
“We’re excited to be working with 10|20 Marketing and happy to have a partner on board to bring small business owners and smaller retail chains onto our platform,” Brad Wing, VP of Partnerships at SweetIQ added. “10|20 is filling a market need and we’re happy to support them in any way we can.”
10|20 Marketing is currently up and running on the SweetIQ platform and actively helping clients get discovered online through the management of their local business listings. The company is currently working with clients from all industries, including retail, professional services, restaurants, consulting and more.
For more Information:
About 10|20 Marketing
10|20 Marketing helps businesses big and small optimize their online presence through business listings, online review strategies and social media listening. Using software solutions to automate the management and reporting of the local listing claiming and management process, 10|20 is able to help small business owners and retail chains drive customers to their locations and continue reaching them through online and social media marketing services.
SweetIQ by ReachLocal delivers industry leading location-based marketing analytics and automation solutions. SweetIQ location and reputation management software enables multi-location brands, marketing agencies, and SMB resellers to manage their location data, measure consumer engagement, and convert online searches to in-store foot traffic. SweetIQ is offered by ReachLocal, a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).
No matter who you are, it always feels great to hear praise from those around you. Family. Friends. Strangers on the street. Now imagine that you run a restaurant, a small boutique or a salon. For small business owners, getting praise from your customers feels that much better.
There are many ways that customers can share their love with you. The challenge, though, is to stay on top of it all. The key is to make sure that you’re looking for love in all the right places.
Praise, you see, can come in many shapes and forms.
A Quick Guide For Small Business Owners: How To Look For Love In All The RIGHT Places
1) Reviews Sites
People are leaving feedback about you that the world can see, so it’s important to make sure that you’re monitoring feedback on review specific sites. Think Yelp, Trip Advisor, Rate MDs and other similar sites. Thank people for high praise and try your best to turn negative reviews into praise by being responsive, caring and helpful. Opinions can change if you make an effort to show love to those who didn’t.
2) Online Local Listings
Reviews can pop up in places that may not be on your radar. Keep monitoring your online listing and apply all the same approaches we outlined in the point above. Visit Google, Bing, Facebook, and other search engines or social networks to ensure that the reviews on your local listings are seen. And when you get love from a client, give it back with a big thank you.
3) Social Networks
Yes, we did mention social networks above, but that was in relation to your business listing. People are also discussing their experiences at your establishment on Twitter and Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or sharing videos across social networks as well. Using social media listening tools such as Brandwatch, Sysomos, or Synthesio can help you track mentions of your brand across social media and watch the sentiment associated to your locations. To keep your listening program low cost, use the native search tools on each network or set up Google Alerts to help you capture mentions of your business.
But wait! There are other forms of online love that you should be aware of as well.
4) Content Shares
When you post content to your own social networks, the people sharing what you post are showing you great respect. Why? Because they’re helping extend your message and introduce you to new people. Their share helps create a viral extension of your brand that brings new exposure to your content.
Though not as effective as a share, even a like for your post should be considered as positive praise. When someone likes your content, it’s possible that others in their network are made aware of their appreciation for your post in their own timelines. So, yes, sometimes a like is more than a like. It’s love!
6) Comments on Social Media Posts
This one is trickier because a comment can be positive or negative. Just like reviews, keep an eye on the comments to your posts and get in there to represent your business. Move the discussion along, answer questions, show appreciation for praise and help fix problems that are presented.
So there you have it, six places to look for online love. What are you experiences looking for brand love online? Share yours in the comments!
Listening to the voice of the customer is so vital to the health of your business. But so many small business owners don’t know where to start and where to go. You know from experience that listening to the feedback you get in person can help you learn so much about what you sell, how you sell it and who you are selling it to. So imagine you could extend your ears and listen to feedback in a different form. Well, you actually can. Because more and more of these “discussions” are taken out of the physical business and into the online world, which eliminates the customer’s discomfort of confrontation while magnifying the impact of the comments, good or bad.
The Three Levels of The Voice of Customer For Local Business Owners
In the three levels of voice of customer listening, there are both online and offline components, two vital from online conversations and the third is an extension of the on-site experience.
Level 1: Online Review Monitoring
With 92% of consumers now reading online reviews before making a purchase, monitoring them is growing in importance. But it’s not good enough to just monitor. Respond too. Thank those who give you good reviews, and solve problems presented in negative reviews. The overall feedback you gain about a specific location, however, can give you valuable direction. Listen closely and make the adjustments being asked of you. When you show that you’re responsive, people respond in kind. Plus it gives you instant credibility among the buying public.
Monitoring reviews and notice that not many are pouring in? You may want to think about a review building strategy to encourage your best customers to act as advocates on your behalf. This can help change the perception of your location, and also help search engines index your business to better present it to those searching online. Why? Because online reviews and the rating you receive have an impact on your SEO. The more you have, the better perceived your business will be by search engine. And this is of vital importance.
Level 2: Social Listening
With your location being monitored via review sites in Level 1, you can turn to social media to listen to feedback on social networks, away from Google Reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor and others. With a social media listening tool to work with, you can track brand keywords and @ mentions of your handles. Using your own online profiles, you can then respond to the positive and negative being published on social networks. In addition, you can think of this information as free focus group feedback that you can apply to your business planning, content marketing, merchandising and customer service approaches.
With the right social media monitoring program in place, you’ll be able to listen to what is being said, track the sentiment of these conversations and gain a better and more complete understanding of your customers. For small business owners, this information is not only vital, it’s gold.
Level 3: Asking For Feedback
Once a customer leaves your location, you’ve lost the chance to engage them one-on-one and discuss their experience. But what if you could extend the opportunity to gain their feedback by giving them a link to a survey? You’ve seen this in practice many times as a consumer, I’m sure. After making a purchase, your receipt has a survey link on it and an incentive to fill it out. Consider this to be another level of gaining the voice of the customer. Every survey response is a personalized, private piece of feedback that you can use to improve your business. Best of all, by standardizing your questionnaire, you can measure your progress on specific objectives and see if you’re gaining traction or falling behind. By measuring, though, you have information you wouldn’t have gained otherwise, which puts you in a position to act.
That’s why, if you’re engaged in Levels 1 + 2 and feel that there’s something missing, bits of information you’re not getting from online discussions, go out and ask. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what people will tell you when you do.
Another reason these three approaches are powerful is because, unlike when you speak to someone one-one-one at your location, you’ll have a record of the discussion. You’ll always be able to go back and review, learn and and, most importantly, teach your staff what works and what doesn’t, identify trends, and help them improve!
And that’s important. After all, local marketing is all about adjusting to the needs of your customers. Otherwise, they may make the adjustment without you knowing. And that’s worse.
For small business owners, a great, cost effective way to understand how people appreciate your establishment is to monitor customer reviews. These reviews are honest, sometimes brutal, assessments of how people feel about doing business with you and your staff. Whether positive or negative, they give you a great opportunity to learn about what is working and what isn’t inside your business. More importantly, though, they drive perceptions about your locations to potential customers who are just waiting to make a decision on where to shop, eat or benefit from services like the ones you offer.
Benefits of Monitoring Reviews
Let’s elaborate on the different reasons to monitor reviews of your store, restaurant, spa, salon, or professional services business.
Perceptions are impacted
We hear it all the time. People don’t trust companies, they trust people. More precisely, they trust people like themselves. As a result, more and more people are looking towards online reviews to decide where to shop, eat or be pampered. 92% of consumers read online reviews. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews. And 80% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s up to you as a small business owner to monitor and respond to these reviews. Providing answers to problems and showing appreciation to those who praise you demonstrates that you’re hands on and interested in feedback. (Check out this great infographic that highlights the above statistics and many, many others.)
Search engines value what others have to say about your business. This online feedback provides them with fresh content to crawl, new keywords to index and backlinks that provide your website with credibility you can’t generate elsewhere. The more reviews collected about your business, the greater the chance of being found online. It’s truly that simple.
Look for patterns in sentiment and improve your operations
When you monitor reviews, it’s important to look for patterns that will help you make business decisions. Are people complaining about your hours? A specific employee? Product availability? Are your customers more likely to complain about your business based on the season? Do they complain about one location more than others? Thinking of these questions alone, you can already see how you can make decisions that will shape how to go about developing an ever-evolving business strategy.
There are people out there who really like your business and aren’t shy about sharing specifics with the world. Find these people, say thank you and activate them online! Identifying and activating your best advocates can have a great influence on those who are considering a purchase. Highlight their content on social networks and make it easily shareable for them to amplify on their own social media accounts. And, when you have a positive interaction on-site, don’t be shy to ask for a review. After all, encouraging positive reviews is a great way to sell others you haven’t even met yet.
The bottom line
While small businesses have challenges fitting all marketing imperatives into a budget, review monitoring doesn’t have to break the budget. In fact, solutions like the one offered by 10|20 Marketing make it easy to monitor these reviews, while leaving money left over for your other marketing initiatives. Ask how we can help you stay on top of this valuable market research!