Do online reviews have a real-world, bottom-line impact for your business? Or, are they simply there to bolster your pride? Some new research from BrightLocal leaves little question that online reviews matter a great deal. According to the data, an astonishing 87 percent of consumers read online reviews for small businesses before they make their purchasing decision. And nearly as many (79 percent) say they trust online reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations!
The upshot of this is plain. The quality and quantity of your online reviews can have a significant, direct impact on whether or not customers are willing to purchase your products or pay for your services. This raises an important question: Is there anything local businesses can do to improve those online reviews?
How to Improve Your Reviews
Actually, there are a number of ways to improve the quality of your online reviews. Consider a few tips and strategies.
Focus on Personal Interactions
One way to get more positive reviews is to make it personal.
If customers think of your business as some faceless corporate entity, or if they feel like they didn’t really connect with anyone from your team, then they are going to be more likely to leave a middling review… or, to not bother reviewing whatsoever.
But if you actually make the time for the personal touch, then suddenly, the customer isn’t just reviewing a local business; they are repaying the kindness of the nice clerk who helped them with their purchase, or the local entrepreneur who sent them the thoughtful follow-up email.
Audit all aspects of your sales and marketing processes, and look for ways to create direct, one-on-one interactions with customers. Personal attention is one of the most valuable ways to boost your reviews.
Be as Responsive as You Can Be
An additional strategy to ensure higher quality reviews is to be highly responsive in addressing customer questions and inquiries. Don’t leave people waiting, which will only lead to frustration. Instead, make it a top priority to respond to your customers in an expedient way.
There are a number of ways for you to establish quick and clear communication between you and your customers, whether through email, Facebook Messenger, or even an automated chatbot on your company website.
The important thing is to be diligent about checking these channels and responding as promptly as possible. Make sure there is someone on the team who is tasked with this; don’t just leave it up to chance.
Offer an Incentive
Another way to get more ratings and reviews is to create some incentives. For example, let customers know that, if they take the time to rate and review your business, you’ll offer them a small coupon, discount code, or other item.
This can actually be a very easy program to implement; for example, you might ask that customers either send you a link to their review or simply forward you a screenshot in order to claim their prize.
One important point here: It’s best to let customers know that they can claim their promo for any rating or review… it doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive one.
In addition to incentivizing ratings and reviews, it may also be beneficial to incentivize photos. For example, if a customer has an opportunity to visit your store and check out your products in-person, welcome them to take a photo and upload it to Google, Facebook, or the review platform of their choice. Again, you can offer an incentive for customers who share photos. These images can be really powerful in inspiring consumer confidence.
Follow Up with Customers
Finally, remember that the customer journey doesn’t end with a sale. Even after someone purchases one of your products or services, it can still be advantageous for you to reach out to them, either by email or by phone.
Thank them again for their purchase. Ask them if they are satisfied with the product. Remind them that you are around to answer any questions, as necessary. You might even ask them, very gently, to consider leaving their feedback via online rating or review.
These follow-ups can be important customer touchpoints, and are often motivating for customers to leave a review that shares their positive experience.
Prioritize Ratings and Reviews
For local business owners, ratings and reviews matter… not just for your ego, but for your bottom line! Thankfully, there are plenty of strategies and automated software tools you can employ to monitor your reviews, to encourage additional feedback, and to use those reviews as valuable marketing collateral.
At enCOMPASS Agency, we have a number of tools and platforms to help our customers make the most of their online reviews. We’d love to tell you more about them, or to answer any of your questions. Reach out to us whenever you’d like to talk.
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