Throughout the past ten years, thanks to the internet, we’ve all changed the way we do business. We have websites, we optimize our websites for search engines, we utilize social media, and in general we promote our presence online just as much as in-person. Although we’ve changed the way we do marketing for our business, we’ve adopted because of the consumer. Nobody walked into our office one day and told us we needed a website. We saw consumers would feel more comfortable with our business if we had a website, so we implemented one, and here we are.
Want to hear something absolutely astronomical? 76% of business owners feel marketing has changed more in the past two years, than in the prior 50. What does this mean? Just having a website to have a website isn’t good enough anymore. You’re not unique. ReachLocal just released a study saying 97% of local business owners have a website Just running television ads, or ads in the local newspaper isn’t going to cut it. We need more: SEO, Social Media Marketing, Mobile Marketing. While people may jump through hoops to rank their site in Google, they miss out on one key element.
People care about what others think.
The numbers do not lie. According to Boast, 90% of consumers polled after previously viewing online reviews said it influenced their purchase. 90% is a huge number – that’s 9 customers out of ten. If your reviews are negative, that means you’re shutting out 9/10 customers right off the bat.
If you finally rank your restaurant #1 in Google, but consumers get there and find out that everyone loathes your restaurant, they aren’t going to go there, period. You need a strong online reputation with great reviews to bring a consumer in. You need social proof. According to a new study, 67% of all consumers in the United States are turning to online reviews when making a purchase decision online as well. If your company is misrepresented, people are going to go “pass. next”.
Picture this: you’re an average family in a town you’ve never been in before. You want to eat out at a local family restaurant so you do a quick search on Google while driving around. “Restaurants near me” you type. You start scrolling through restaurants, paying attention to how many stars are shown next to the result. 2.8, 3.5, 4.1, 4.4, and here you are… 4.7/5 with 38 reviews. You’re sold without even needing to read about the restaurant.
But how do you get people to actually leave a review? You’ve been open for years, and yet you only have two reviews online. What’s stopping consumers from reviewing YOUR business instead of others? In the rest of this guide, we’re going to show you a few proven, tested methods to improving your local review funnel and to entice your average consumer to do you a huge favor, and leave you a review online.
Before we begin, make sure everything is in tip-top shape on your Google Places listing. Make sure you have relevant, high-quality imagery so people can identify you are the correct restaurant. You can’t skimp on anything here – make sure the address is correct, make sure the links to your website are correct. Spend some time really making it look as good, or better than any other listing in your local area. If you previously had a listing without an address, links, or imagery, there’s a chance this is one of the reasons you haven’t been getting many reviews.
I would also highly suggest getting your business up on websites like Yelp or the Yellow Pages if you don’t already.
How to Get Consumers to Leave Reviews:
A lot of small businesses are getting stickers that help entice customers right off the bat. These decals can easily be thrown up at the front of your business location and will remind your consumers to leave a review, both when they visit, and when they leave. Make that initial connection when visitors come into your location. When you finish your services, try to mention that they should leave a review if they were happy. Set up a bit.ly link to your local listing to make it easy for viewers to remember. If your business name is “Crush Local”, try something like bit.ly/CrushNewYork if you can. This makes it a quick, easy process for consumers. Remember, they’re doing you a favor, so make it as easy as possible. Here’s what the stickers we mentioned earlier look like:
Whoa…why would I offer incentives to my customers in exchange for reviews? Isn’t that pointless?
Not in the slightest – as we showed earlier, by getting more reviews, and higher quality reviews, you’re going to bring more customers in, and rake in more profit. Picking an incentive can be tricky, but personally, I like to kill two birds with one stone and offer a discount on the next purchase if they can provide a review. You can set up some kind of deal where if the customers shows they’ve reviewed your business on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or another website, they get 10% off their order. If you run something like a restaurant this might not fly -say you own a coffee shop for example, try offering a free drink. Something small that gets them to act.
Don’t forget the rule of reciprocity. If you do something for them, they’ll do something for you.
Promote Social Media:
Make sure you’re pushing social media along with reviews. If customers already go through the trouble to follow you on social media for updates, there’s a higher chance that they’re going to give you a review. If you push your social media profile, or have been pushing it for a while, you can also ask customers on social media to leave a review. Interact with your audience, and they’ll interact with you. Remember to push. Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say a customer responded to our coffee shop’s deal for 20% off a Monday coffee and said “coming in for sure! Love the atmosphere, love the deals!”. We could leave a well-placed, interactive comment saying something along the lines of “hey __name__, we’re so glad you love the atmosphere! If you have a spare minute would you mind leaving a review on Yelp here __bit.ly link__?”.
They’ll do it more times than not. You’ve already garnered a positive comment out of them. You’ve already provided a positive experience for them – they’ll be more than happy to leave a review.
Dealing With Negative Reviews:
As mentioned earlier, negative reviews can hugely harm your online reputation and send customers away. I would classify a negative review as a 1 or 2-star rating on any major website. There are a few keys to dealing with negative reviews as to not steer customers away when they see it.
ALWAYS Respond to The Review:
I can’t count how many times I’ve cringed in horror after reading how terribly a business owner replied to criticism. The customer may be unreasonable, but they take it to a completely different level. A huge argument spurs out, and you’re left with the business owner cursing out the consumer, saying that their opinion is wrong.
Never do this. The customer is always right, especially when you’re being scrutinized.
Respond to the review in a highly positive manner. Whatever you convey to this consumer is what you’re going to convey to everyone else who reads your comment. Say that you’re very sorry that their experience was negative and tell them that if they’re willing to give you another shot, speak to you directly and you will hook them up with a discount/freebie. End it at that.
You’ve cornered them – they can’t respond to your positivity with another negative comment! If they do, the other consumers are going to see that and think the consumer was unruly anyway. If they respond with a positive comment and say they’ll stop in, you have a chance to make their experience positive. At the end of the day, as long as you run a genuinely good business, you will be able to change the customer’s mind.
If you maintain this mentality, you’re going to avoid negative reviews that actually harm you. In addition, if you pair this with what we mentioned above, you’re going to bring in a flock of positive reviews. By doing this, your online reviews are going to skyrocket in total, you’re going to look more appealing to potential customers, and you’re going to bring in more money.
I hope you enjoyed our guide to online reviews. If you have any questions or comments, leave a comment below and I’ll get to it as soon as I can! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post right here on Crush Local.