Online reviews are no longer only important for businesses that want to build hype on Yelp or Angies List. Great reviews can help SEO campaign efforts, boost AdWord efficacy, and make shared endorsements more effective on Google. Numerous internet marketers should not be surprised to learn that 88 percent of customers trust reviews from a local business listing service as much as they trust personal recommendations. Online reviews are growing to the point where they can make or break a business in the service industry.
Do Customers Really Care About Online Reviews?
In a study conducted by BrightLocal, approximately 90 percent of respondents reported using online reviews to determine whether or not a business is a good one. Furthermore, a whopping 39 percent of respondents reported using online reviews to determine the quality of a business on a regular basis. Without quality customer reviews, its near impossible to build online buzz, a powerful brand, and a thriving business. A bottom-up approach to getting top customer reviews on a local business listing service and gaining online visibility makes sense. Focus on the customers first, then focus on other online marketing efforts later.
How Businesses Can Boost Positive Reviews
Online reviews have also become, in a way, a strong form of social media advertising. Customers can interact with other customers as well as business owners. It is important for startups and emerging businesses to get the right PR and reviews as soon as possible. One of the best ways to get great reviews is obvious; provide an exceptional product or service. However, customers often need a gentle reminder to visit a local business listing service and write their own reviews.
Business owners should remember a few important things when interacting with customers online for optimal results.
- Be professional. Some reviews might seem unfair. Go the extra mile to make time to contact a dissatisfied customer to make things right. Often, customers do not want to confront business owners in person. A bad first impression does not necessarily mean that a customer is lost forever.
- Demonstrate exceptional customer service. Take the initiative to read reviews and collect feedback. Perhaps a few customers could have had a better experience if a small thing was changed, such as an initiative to always answer the phone promptly during business hours. Instead of waiting for numerous complaints, address small things without bothering customers.
- Fake reviews are out there. If a business owner knows a negative review is fake, potential customers probably have a hunch that it is not very accurate. Similarly, do not write fake positive reviews. Dedicated online reviews and readers can easily detect them.
Next Steps After Getting Positive Buzz From Customers
Reach out to the local media for more authoritative reviews and PR pieces. Meanwhile, get going on comprehensive advertising campaigns. Reviews on a local business listing service are only one part of a larger picture. Gain the right visibility by leveraging the power of positive reviews in SEO campaigns, social media campaigns, and PPC campaigns. Increase brand recognition online, and continue to provide exceptional products or services offline.
Keep the positive buzz going, and gradually reach beyond a small customer base. The key takeaway is customers have more power than ever in online marketing success or failure.
For nearly three decades, Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of Surefire Social, has been responsible for driving innovation and sales growth for large media and e-commerce brands as well as start-ups. Marentis is a frequent speaker at local digital marketing conferences and a contributor to SMB and technology-focused publications.