Did you know that 92% of consumers now read online reviews and that your star rating is the number one factor consumers use in judging your business (for more stats CLICK HERE
)? Wow! Like it or not, online reviews are an important source for potential customers to learn more about your local business and play a critical role in their decision making process. Here's the bottom line...the more genuine and amazing online reviews you have the higher likelihood someone will choose your business over a competitor.
When it comes to reviews, more is better. I would recommend shooting for 7-10 reviews with each review site. How do you get more online reviews? Lucky for you we've outlined some easy steps you can take to start generating amazing online reviews for your local business.
- Address Current Service Issues That Negatively Impact Clients
The single most important thing you can do to encourage positive reviews is to make clients happy. This may seem obvious, but most people don't consider this when creating an online review strategy. Address any glaring issues that may impact a client's happiness with your service before going hog wild with trying to get reviews. If you don't do this first, you might be encouraging unhappy customers to post negative reviews. Ask current and past clients about any glaring weakenesses and fix them, then move on to the next steps.
- Ensure Your Business Can Be Reviewed
This seems obvious, but if you are not registered with the most widely used online review sites then it's impossible for someone to review your business. The first thing you need to do is register your business with each site and make sure the information about your business is complete and accurate. If you try to do to much at one time you will fail. My recommendation is to choose the top 3 sites relevant to your business and focus your online review efforts there before expanding to a host of other sites. Google+Local / Google Places should definitely be on your list. A simple search for "top online review sites for local businesses" will give you a host of other sites to consider.
- Make it Easy for People to Review Your Business
You must make it easy for people to review your business. With every online review site you register for you will have a direct link (url) to your profile. Save those links so you can provide them when asking people to review your business. I'd even take it a step further and put together step by step instructions you can provide people on how to post a review to each site. The easier you can make it for people the higher likelihood they will leave a review for your business.
- Create a System to Encourage More Reviews
Most people will not leave an online review without being prompted. You must have a plan to consistently encourage reviews from your customers. For every business this may be slightly different, but finding ways to automate this process will go a long way in generating consistent online reviews over time. Look for the best time in your sales process to reach out to your customers and remind them to leave an online review. You don't want to pester customers for a rave review. Simply let them know you appreciate their business and their honest feedback about their experience would be much appreciated. Post a "Review Us" button or link on every marketing channel you think is appropriate (website, social media pages, email newsletter, receipts, etc.). This will help bring more awareness about online reviews to your customers consistently over time.
- Bad Reviews Aren't the End of the World
You can't make everyone happy, so don't strive for positive reviews 100% of the time. In fact, 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (see full stats HERE). The stats are mixed on whether you should respond to online reviews, so I'll leave that decision up to you. If you can respond in a way that is humble, helpful and not defensive then go for it. If not, then I'd vote against it. If a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers return to your business. Keeping this in mind, I think your best approach with negative online reviews is to address the customer's issue offline. If you can resolve the issue, you will likely keep a customer and they might write an addendum to their negative review.
- Shy Away From Incentivizing Positive Online Reviews
Should you pay customers or incentivize them in some way for positive online reviews? I'd recommend against it. The most valuable reviews are those that are honest and unbiased. It's hard to argue a review from someone being paid to do it is unbiased. Many online review sites have policies against paying/incentivizing reviews, so you may be walking a fine line in doing so. I think the best approach is to have systems in your business that create happy customers. Happy Customers = Great Online Reviews
Following these simple steps will go a long way in helping your local business generate amazing reviews over time. Be consistent in your efforts and you will start to get some amazing results.
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