Online customer reviews–both positive and negative–have a huge influence in attracting customers for small, local businesses.
Research has shown that the typical consumer checks more than ten online information sources before making a decision. They don’t go to review sites (Angies’ List, Yelp) first, they Google.
And online reviews do more than just influence consumer buying decisions; they create visibility on Google and other search engines, too.
Having online reviews is one of the most effective and inexpensive SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics out there. A legitimate review on a respected third party site is one of the most powerful signals you can send to Google.
The more reviews you have, the more visible your business is across the web.
Getting customer reviews is a numbers game, and you can improve your numbers.
As a small business owner looking to increase online visibility, you need to participate in “electronic Word of Mouth” (eWOM). Yes, it’s a thing.
eWOM is a term that encompasses online reviews, social media and discussion forums.
Who uses eWOM? “Empowered consumers”, that’s who.
Empowered consumers are more demanding than ever, and they have the ability to make or break your business. Thanks to incessant tv commercials and over-hyped products on the web, consumers don’t trust what you say about your services yourself and they don’t trust ads.
But it appears that they do trust online reviews. Because customer reviews are written by “regular folks” with no agenda.
Wait there’s more. People who read and post online reviews tend to be younger, wealthier and more in tune with technology – an attractive demographic for businesses to reach.
Still not convinced of the power of online reviews?
Let’s look at some myths and truths about reviews that hopefully change your mind if you’re skeptical.
Myth: Only unhappy customers write reviews.
Truth: The vast majority of online reviews are positive. AS LONG AS POSTING A REVIEW IS RELATIVELY EASY, the positive reviews outweigh negative 8 to 1.
Still, unhappy customers have a greater-than-normal urge to bad mouth a business online. These people know that complaining publicly creates attention for them and pain for the business. Reviews that complain about poor customer service only are usually not taken seriously by potential buyers because this type of complaint is seen as self-serving to the complainer.
Myth: Customers only care about the number of stars in a review.
Truth: Consumers consider star ratings in context. Customers who look at reviews actually read the reviews. They are suspicious of both positive and negative reviews. Fake reviews are common and people know it.
Myth: Negative reviews hurt reputation. Good reviews make good reputations, bad ones bad ones. Right?
Truth: All reviews can help your reputation. It’s the mix of opinions that create authenticity in a business’s online reputation. Research has shown that readers of mixed reviews form more positive judgments of a business than those with only positive reviews. Nobody’s perfect, and real reviews by real people are what prospects are looking for.
Negative reviews contribute to building your reputation more than they ruin it. Unless of course they completely overwhelm the conversation about your business. Then you have bigger problems than how many reviews you have.
Myth: The more positive the review, the better. Why should a business want anything other than praise in its customer reviews?
Truth: To be meaningful, a review should relate how real customers experienced a product or service so that other real customers can decide whether that product or service is a good fit for them, too. Also – substantive reviews get search engine attention.
Myth: Your reputation will take care of itself. Shouldn’t a small business focus on its products and services and let its reputation take care of itself?
Truth: Be proactive in getting customer reviews and being responsive to reviews over time.
You have to make a commitment to get reviews. Customers who have good intentions to write a review still won’t do it if they forget, or it’s too hard, or they’re too busy. Your job is to invite each customer to write a review and make the process easy for them.
What’s the best approach to use when asking for reviews? Honesty. A simple, sincere, no-stress request with no financial incentives and no pressure. You simply “invite” them to give feedback. Keep the request “soft” and nuanced. You “invite”, you don’t “ask.” You “remind”, you don’t “nag.” Email, thank you cards, a printed card with an invitation to review are all good ideas.
Never offer a financial incentive in exchange for a positive review. This practice is unethical and violates the terms of service on review sites.
eWOM is all about your reputation, both online and in the real world. When you consider the incredible influence consumer opinions carry, getting your business into this peer-to-peer conversation can have a greater marketing impact at a lower cost than almost any paid advertising. Your former clients will lead you to your future customers; all you have to do is ask.
Wait, we mean “invite”. All you have to is “invite” them to tell others about their experience with you.
Kitchen Design Partner stands ready to help. They will work with you to get your customers into what is called the “REVIEW FUNNEL”. KDP knows what motivates customers to write a review, and using this knowledge, they “funnel” your customers from their experience with you, all the way through completing a review.
After your customers are in the funnel, KDP will create a simple, easy-to-use landing page that guides them to the third party sites – like Angie’s List and Yelp – where potential customers discover, evaluate and compare businesses, products and services. You control this landing page that shows your customers the available review sites and gives them the tools to complete their review.
Contact the experts at Kitchen Design Partner to get started.