By ReachLocal Australia Sales Manager, Garry Mautner.
How many times have I heard this?
“No, it’s okay. All of our business comes through word-of-mouth and referrals. We don’t need any help with online marketing, thanks.”
Let’s take a step back and think about this a bit more. Is there anything we do these days, where we don’t read online reviews?
You’re planning a birthday surprise for your significant other. You know you’re under pressure to do better than last year, because that sad excuse of a hotel (in the middle of the sticks, with a dodgy set-menu dinner) just won’t do this time around. It needs to be good! Let’s look at a couple of scenarios.
- They’ve been dropping hints about a new smartwatch, but you’re not sure which one to get . So you do some reading, make some comparisons, and check out the reviews on Google and eBay.
- That romantic getaway deal you’ve found online looks impressive, but you’re not sure if it’s too good to be true. So you do some reading, make some comparisons and check out the reviews on Facebook and TripAdvisor.
The fact is, more than 90% of us rely on online reviews when making that crucial buying decision. Even more incredible, is the fact that we trust online reviews more than word-of-mouth reviews from friends, family or colleagues.
Reviews for your business
We all use research and reviews in our day-to-day lives, so why doesn’t the same logic apply to business?
It’s essential that every single business considers how they appear online, no matter their industry, and include this as part of their overall digital strategy. 10 years ago, every business needed a website. 5 years ago, it had to be mobile-friendly. Today, it’s all about how you engage and inform your customer online.
Have you ever Googled your own business to look at how and where you appear? Remember, it’s not just about what you’re saying to your audience on your own site and profiles, but also what your audience is saying about you. Consider your image; how your business is being positioned against the competition, and your customers experience with your brand throughout their buying journey online.
Search engine ranking
You need to impress robots as well as humans. As we all know, Google, Bing & Yahoo all have complex algorithms that look at different factors to determine where your business is ranked. How often your business is reviewed and mentioned online has a massive influence on this.
As technology gets smarter the more expectant your audience becomes, which means you have to work that little bit smarter to help customers choose you.
Many of the businesses I meet are initially reluctant to embrace this reality, for fear of the unknown. They also feel it leaves them vulnerable to negative reviews, and I can understand why.
However, if you’re out for dinner, and you overhear a customer saying they’d had a bad experience with your business, you’d be keen to resolve it for them. If a customer leaves a heated message on your answer phone, you’d call them back to sort it out.
At the end of the day, you can’t really control what people say about you. But how you react to the comments and reviews you receive, can carry far more credibility than having 100% 5-star reviews. Think about it: if you’re looking at hotels on TripAdvisor, do you choose the one that has “★★★★★ from 5 reviews”, or the one that has ” ★★★★✰ from 3,257 reviews”?
Every good business sets out to offer the best product or service they can, so that people recommend them. That’s why the best businesses get a lot of work through word-of-mouth, or referrals.
These days through word-of-mouth is online. It’s all about word-of-mouse.
How to get more online reviews
Customers always ask, “How do I get more reviews?” Simple, just ask for them. It might seem a little daunting at first, but the more you ask, the more comfortable it becomes, and the more reviews you’ll get.
Make it as straightforward as possible. No one wants to have to go through finding your profile, searching for the right button or hunting for your email address. Put a link to your listing in your email signature. Why not even send your customer a link in a follow-up email? Then you can personalise it to them, making them feel super-valued, and even offer a thank you for their trouble!
Social media reviews
68% of consumers look to social media for reviews. So why not reach out to your followers and ask them for some honest feedback? If some are less positive than others, look at this as an opportunity to improve, and resolve for a happy customer. Having a range of reviews simply gives more credibility to your best reviews!
Make sure you respond
Above all else, respond to your customers online. At the end of the day, if someone has taken time out of their day to leave some feedback, there’s no better way to thank them than by responding directly. The higher your engagement, the more confidence customers have that they’re being heard, and the better their opinion of your business will be.
Now, can anyone recommend a reliable Uber driver?