Last week we explained how online reviews can gain local business and search engine rankings. This week we continue our article with the release of the last 3 tips to gain more traction from your local business reviews.
2) Promote online reviews with your customers. Once you have your web presence set up on local business listing websites that offers reviews, it is a good idea to encourage customers to post reviews to them. A small business can promote reviews through social networking, printed materials, emails, word of mouth and special offers. Focus on building reviews on websites like Google+ Local and Yelp which already have an impact on local rankings and are displayed publicly in search results.
Encourage customers on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to post online reviews on local business listings. By simply creating a post, which encourages customer interaction while providing a link, a small business can gain plenty of feedback. These customers have already found you on social networks, so they have shown interest in your business and they are computer savvy.
Print is not completely dead. Companies still print up pamphlets, stickers, magnets and other promotional materials. However, many companies do not utilize this advertising real estate to promote online reviews. At the very least, a small business should be using printed materials for the promotion of their social profiles while aiming to acquire customer reviews on social networks.
Email can be a powerful tool that is cost effective and takes almost no time at all. However, if you plan to use email to promote customer reviews, focus on the customer experience. By asking customers about their previous experience with your company, you open the door to feedback. Once you have piqued interest, it is possible to ask them to perform an action such as posting an online review.
As I said earlier, word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools. Promote local business reviews online by asking customers in person. A personal approach can often be the most effective method. Appealing to your customers in many different forms (printed, online, in person) will yield the most and possibly the most positive responses.
Utilizing all these methods together is the best approach but there is one common thing every customer wants—something free or discounted. This can intrigue customers to go out of their way to submit a review of your company. With a little incentive you can ask people to do almost anything and still receive a response. Offer something special in return for customer reviews online. Whether it is a free item or a discount on their next purchase, incentives go a long way. You can also be creative with your offerings by adding tiered incentives for participating more. Adding in extra benefits can generate greater participation. One way could be asking customers to tell their friends about the promotion, if their friends post a review they will receive a larger incentive.
3) Encourage honest reviews from real customers. Fake reviews will not get you very far. Potential clients can spot a fake and you cannot receive enough of them to make an impact before getting caught. By simply encouraging customers to leave online reviews you will receive plenty of feedback. However, the best way to receive honest reviews is to do a good job while providing a great service that is friendly and professional.
Potential customers reading reviews are also interested in the most recent customer experiences. Real customer reviews will be posted sporadically so be sure to consistently encourage online reviews. As I said earlier in this article, utilize social networks to keep responses coming in and being posted.
4) Publicly respond to negative reviews. All reviews are important, even negative ones. A negative review allows you to respond publically about one of your company’s weaknesses. By offering support or an incentive to correct the problem for a negative response, you show publicly how much you care about righting the situation.
Avoid arguing or disputing a negative customer review on your local business listing. A bad review can be a minor blemish but picking at it can worsen the situation. Two negative responses do not create a positive one. By responding with something positive on a negative review, a company can save face while encouraging more positive responses. With a negative response back to a customer’s review, a company could be opening the door for more negative responses. Disgruntled customers are more likely to participate in negative feedback if they see recent negative reviews. Also, if you make an unhappy customer more upset online, they may encourage friends to post negative reviews. By responding with a positive and helpful post, there may be a better chance of having the negative review removed by the customer.
The future of online reviews could mean a greater impact on local search. The only way to be prepared for any changes to the search engines is to have a complete web presence. Encouraging positive online reviews is one way to build out a part of your web presence that many competitors may have neglected. Also, local business reviews will always be a part of your web presence that customers are looking to find. Be found by local clients and be seen in a positive light by focusing on building customer reviews online. Follow these 4 tips to start seeing a larger impact from your small business marketing without paying for costly services or spending much time.