Nothing can feel more rewarding than having happy customers that brag about you to their friends and family. A week later, you may even get a call from their neighbor or mom, telling you that they were referred by your previous customer. Next thing you know, you are serving their entire family, without having to do any extra work!
An effective way to building your business reputation, word-of-mouth is one of the most well-known, cost-effective forms of marketing. However, today’s technology allows a new opportunity for businesses to build their reputation so that the world will know about previous customer experiences: online reviews.
The following statistics measure the impact on purchasing decisions from online reviews:
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a family or friend recommendation.
- 90% of customers claim that a positive online review impacted their purchasing decision.
- 90% of consumers trust online reviews to help them make their buying decision on a local business.
The Importance of an Online Presence and Reputation Management
With the world of consumers going digital, all businesses, both small and large, must be ready for this transition. As the majority of consumers search online for local businesses, their online experience will also reflect their purchasing decision, thus, their online review.
Ultimately, businesses that do not currently offer their products or services online must be quick to establish their digital presence or be overcome by their competitors.
The following statistics regarding small businesses have been conducted by Yodle:
- 52% of all small business owners reported not having a website at all.
- Only 10% of businesses have figured out how to use social media or other form of online advertising.
While the number of growth opportunities have substantially increased as a result of more convenience for consumers, small business owners have reported being overwhelmed by the idea of transitioning their marketing strategies to the digital world.
While online reviews are highly encouraged on multiple platforms, some are more trustworthy than others. Some accounts are paid and others are free; however, those that are paid, such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) are considerably more trustworthy and will have a higher impact on a buying decision than a free listing, such as Yelp.
Benefits and Importance of BBB Reviews
The following statistics conducted by BBB stress the power of their online reviews:
- 7 million BBB Business Reviews are read each month by potential buyers.
- With over 7 million unique visitors each month, BBB is the preferred go-to for potential buyers when shopping online or researching contractors.
- 41% of consumers said they trusted BBB over Google, Angie’s List, and Yelp, when asked which service they trusted the most for online reviews.
How to Get Positive Reviews
- Known as one of the most effective ways to get what you want, asking customers for their feedback can significantly contribute to the online reputation and growth of your business. For everyone who had a good experience with you, send them a follow-up e-mail with a link to your BBB account, Facebook, or Twitter page (for customers under 30) and ask them to leave a review.
- Document all e-mails and letters with positive feedback from your customers to use for testimonials on your website; just make sure to have their permission before posting. You can also post the BBB Seal to inform them you are a member of the organization.
- Once a customer has left their review, it is important to take the extra step and respond to it, either thanking them or addressing the issue if there was a problem. Either way, you are showing the world that you are listening and care about their experience.
How to Reach Out to Your Customers for Reviews
Thanks to the number of different ways to communicate online in today’s digital world, you will want to choose the most appropriate and effective channel for reaching your customers. For example, a teenage girl’s retail clothing store may decide to run a campaign on Instagram that promotes leaving reviews on their website in exchange for a gift card for selected winners. But as these channels will vary for each industry, Proceed Innovative recommends testing each to see which is most effective for your business.
When choosing the best channel to reach your customers for online reviews, consider testing the following:
- Face to Face or Phone: Highly recommended for local businesses, having a face to face or even phone interaction with your customers will allow you to get the best insights to their experiences. You can also ask additional questions and assess their tone from their voice, allowing you to develop a better relationship with them as a result of a personable interaction.
- Online Survey: If your customers prefer to stay anonymous, providing them with an online survey will allow them to leave their feedback while feeling comfortable that their identity is not disclosed.
- Usability Testing: Although this will require more effort on both your end and theirs, testing your future products and services with current customers allows you to gain valuable feedback before they are released into the market.
- Contact Form: Although less personal, providing a contact form on your website easily allows customers to share their experience at a time that is convenient for them.
- Personal E-mail: Both personal and flexible, sending your customers e-mails allows them to feel special knowing that you care about their experience. They are also able to respond at a time that is convenient for them, making it an effective and efficient channel.
- Social Media: While it can be personal and informal, this channel can be very effective for younger generations as they spend numerous hours on social media every day. For major channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, consider running a sweepstakes or contest that will reward a selected user with a gift card, or free item or service for leaving a review on your social page or website.
Monitor Your Online Reviews
While encouraging your customers to leave reviews is essential, they must be monitored and managed once they have shared their experience. It is also important to remember that online reviews, like SEO, is an on-going process, not a one-time task.
To get the most value out of your online reviews for building your reputation, keep in mind the following:
- Respond to All Reviews. If an unhappy customer has posted a bad review, address the issue by responding on the review platform. Afterwards, contact them through a private message and try to resolve the problem. Whether they are given a refund, gift card, or coupon towards their next purchase, remember that a negative review will have a much greater impact on a business than losing money from one transaction. On the other hand, it is also good to say “thank you” for positive reviews to let everyone know that you are listening to their feedback.
- Aim for Average of Positive Reviews. While you do your best to provide everyone with the best experience with your business, not everyone can be pleased. Potential customers that often read reviews will know this and disregard a few bad reviews if the majority are positive. They will also respect you more after reading your responses to see that you have taken all measures to fix the issues of unhappy customers.
- Prioritize Customer Service. When communicating with your customers, it is essential to provide them with as much satisfaction as possible during their experience. By addressing all issues right away, you can even turn a negative experience into a positive one and prevent a bad review. However, it is still important to promote both as it provides you with the feedback necessary to improve your business in the future. As long as you address and resolve the issue quickly, you can prevent additional damage to your reputation. The customer may even take down the review down if the issue was fixed.
The Power of Online Reviews for All Types of Businesses: Online and Offline
It doesn’t matter whether your business serves your customers locally or internationally, online reviews have a substantial impact on all types of businesses. For example, potential customers may read reviews for computers, books, electronics, music, and movies before purchasing them in brick-and-mortar stores. In addition, they will even look at the reviews from personal services, such as: doctors, vendors, Uber drivers, plumbers, stylists, accountants, etc.
Keep in mind these statistics if your business serves its customers locally:
- 57% of consumers search online for a local business over 6 times each year.
- 88% of consumers search online for a local business with a mobile device within the previous 24 hours.
- 39% of consumers have searched online for a local business at least once each month.
While there are many online resources and tools available to assist with encouraging, managing, and responding to online reviews, the task can become overwhelming for businesses serving numerous customers. In addition, it can be difficult to establish an online presence because that requires creating/managing many social accounts, building an optimized website, and/or driving customers to your store. Proceed Innovative specializes in the development and growth of businesses’ online presence. With years of experience in digital marketing and web design, we will drive customers to your website or store, allowing you to focus on what you do best: providing them with a great experience.
Call us at (800)933-2402 for more information.