With the rate at which technological advancements are increasing today, real marketing now happens online. Before making any buying decisions, customers turn to search engines to learn more about a business they want to buy from and see what other customers are saying about its products. Therefore, positive business reviews are an essential deciding factor when customers want to purchase from you.
In an online survey conducted by Moz, it was found that as many as 67% of the respondents are influenced by online reviews, and more than half of them said that online reviews impact their decision-making process while making a purchase.
Therefore, as a business owner, proprietor of a local business, entrepreneur, or a freelancer, building and managing your online reputation is absolutely indispensable for a successful business.
The Importance of Online Reviews
A brand’s online reputation is quite similar to word-of-mouth marketing. Customers trust online reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation. Hence, the importance of positive reviews and feedback cannot be stressed enough for a local business.
An annual survey conducted by Bright Local revealed some key learning points about how customers think and make purchase decisions. Many of the findings in the survey highlighted why it’s important for local businesses to focus on getting positive reviews to engage and retain potential and existing customers. Some of its takeaways are:
- A whopping 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation – proving that consumer marketing is evolving and so should you.
- 90% of consumers form an opinion about a business after reading less than 10 reviews – making it essential for a business to have enough positive reviews to counter any negative reviews.
- Percentage of consumers who regularly or occasionally read online reviews was found to be 91% – your customers are reading reviews and few or no reviews at your end won’t help your business.
- Positive reviews make 74% of customers trust a business more – leading to more business and revenue.
How to Get Online Reviews
As mentioned earlier, positive online reviews are absolutely crucial for any business; however, for a small local business, they’re even more important due to the business’s limited target audience. Hence, it is important that small business owners hop on the online marketing bandwagon and start managing their online reputation with much more alacrity than they are doing it with now.
There are many tried and tested ways that can help you generate positive customer reviews about your brand. A few of them are obvious, while others, not so much. Here are 4 ideas to generate more online business reviews:
Ask satisfied customers
It is no surprise that a customer is more likely to leave a negative review if they are unhappy with your service. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about positive reviews. Satisfied customers often never leave reviews because they don’t realize how important it is for your business.
So, if you are looking for positive reviews, you need to ask satisfied customers for them. They are the ones who are getting the most value out of your product. They are your target audience, your ideal customer; someone who should be leaving reviews so that other potential customers can find your business.
The question now is how to identify a satisfied customer?
- Your target audience – Your ideal customer is someone who would best benefit from your service, becoming your perfect choice to ask for a review.
- Your returning customers – If a customer is making repeated purchases, it implies that they are happy with your service and would be glad to leave a review if they haven’t already.
Ask at the right time
Asking is not enough. Asking at the right time and in the right way is just as important. If you are sending emails or messages weeks after your customer used your service or bought from your business, then your chances of getting a review are very low. They are likely to have forgotten about their level of satisfaction, which will only result in a poor and hurried review, if at all.
For this reason, the best time to ask for a review is right after they have finished using your service or purchasing your product. This way, it will be easy for them to recall the value your business provided them with, and they will be more likely to leave a positive review.
Asking at the right time could mean any of these things based on your type of business;
- Hit a usage milestone – Asking them for a review after they have made a certain number of purchases.
- Ending a short-term contract – You have finished providing the service you were hired for.
- Hear from a satisfied customer – Customers sometimes send thank you emails after they have received a service. If you receive such a contact, it is a good time to ask them to leave an honest review online to help your business flourish.
Use a review management system
There are a lot of review sites on the internet, but not all of them will be relevant to your business. Find out where your customers go to read reviews and make sure you have enough reviews there. For example, if you run a stationery shop, then a review on TripAdvisor won’t be of much use to you. To automate the process, you can invest in an online reputation management system which will help you generate reviews on sites that are pertinent to your business.
An online review management system creates a review generation flow reminding your customers to leave a review after they have received your service. Having a system like this would ensure that every customer receives a reminder to leave a review without you sending out emails/messages manually, especially if you have a business with hundreds of customers.
A review management system will help you stay on top of your online reputation management and help your business by:
- Customizing an email campaign to request reviews from customers.
- Automatically sending follow up emails.
- Receiving alerts when a new review is made, allowing you to respond promptly in case of a negative review.
If you are just starting out, you should certainly consider offering incentives/discounts to your customers in return for an honest review. This will help your business in two ways: (a) you will get a review and (b) a returning customer. In case of a negative review, you will be able to use the feedback to improve areas of your business to fit customers’ needs.
A discount or similar incentive is enough encouragement for your customers to leave a review. However, make sure you ask for an “honest” review instead of a positive one. Fake reviews are easily detectable and will only decrease the validity of genuine reviews.
The importance of positive reviews and feedback for a local business cannot be emphasized enough. Start working on your online reputation today and you will begin to reap the results in only a few months’ time.