Make Online Reviews Work for Your Business
Many factors play into a potential customer’s decision to buy your product or service, but one thing is clear — online reviews are at the top of the list. A recent study by BrightLocal reveals that 91 percent of people read online reviews before making a purchasing decision, and over 80 percent of people trust the reviews as much as a personal referral! Here are suggestions to improve yours:
- Create an impactful online presence. Unless you just opened your business, there’s a good chance it already exists in at least one of the main online directories: Google My Business, Yelp and Bing. If it does, you can claim the listing and start managing your customer reviews. If it doesn’t, go through the process to create a new business profile. Then, set up a Facebook business page (with reviews enabled) and add a review section to your website to encourage your customers to engage with your business online. As you grow your online footprint, your search engine optimization (SEO) will make it easier for prospective customers to find you.
- Solicit great customer reviews. While customers actively search out reviews when searching online, they don’t always think to leave a review after a positive experience with your business. A personal request from you might be all that’s needed to spring a happy customer into action. Maybe it’s a sincere thank you note after a productive meeting or a customer appreciation email campaign that provides a link to your directory listings. The goal is to have your satisfied customers leave a review to boost your online profile and increase your SEO. Remember to make this process as easy as possible for your customers.
- Use negative reviews to your benefit. If left unresolved, bad reviews can crush your business reputation. By keeping a close eye on your listings, you have the opportunity to show potential customers how you effectively handle negative situations in a timely manner. Take the time to understand their complaint, empathize with their situation, apologize for the problem, and offer a reasonable solution. Remember to use these reviews primarily to communicate to readers of the reviews, not just the complainer.
- Keep listings fresh. A long history of reviews is good to show that you are an established business, but current reviews are imperative to building a prospective customer’s confidence. Seek out online reviews and keep your directory listings up to date to continue to show relevance and ongoing business activity.
Managing your online review profiles may seem scary, but by understanding the mechanics of how they work you can successfully display your quality business reputation to the online community.