User reviews are increasing in power. More people are using reviews when deciding which products to buy, services to use or restaurants to eat at. In fact, some people go so far as to avoid restaurants and service providers who do not have high positive ratings. According to Inc. magazine, 88 percent of customers looking to buy a product are influenced by the online reviews they read. However, many small business owners do not realize the numerous advantages of user reviews. Even more don’t know how to harness them.
Increase your rank, visibility and stand out from competitors.
More reviews can help increase your Google rankings, especially in those searches that are location-based. When searching terms such as “pizza restaurants near me” or “painting contractors in Detroit”, Google provides a map with a list of firms at the top of the first page. Obtaining a position up top increases your visibility and, along with the positive reviews, helps you stand out from your competitors. With a limited marketing budget, you can capitalize on this by focusing on obtaining reviews in conjunction with search engine optimization (SEO). This you can outsource to an online marketing firm for a moderate cost. But, be sure to read their reviews or get references before you agree to a paying relationship with them.
Consider the experience of Mr. Wise Electric, an electrical contractor serving both residential and commercial customers in the Atlanta metro area south of Buckhead. Owner and manager, AJ Nelson, noticed unsolicited positive customer reviews six to seven years ago and has seen an impact on business since. “I get feedback from customers and potential customers that they read the reviews. That puts them in a position to trust Mr. Wise Electric.”
Proactively solicit user reviews.
Should you ask customers for reviews? This really depends on your situation.
Nelson said that, while they may occasionally request a review, “I think it’s more genuine if they do it without my request”. However, he acknowledged that his firm has used Square as its merchant services provider since 2012. Square has been actively soliciting reviews on behalf of its customers since 2015-2016. Nelson knows that some of his customers have read these. Furthermore, Square offers a rewards program that the reviews are tied to, and this may incentivize customers to complete a review.
Wingler Construction, based in Whitehall, OH, outsources their website ranking and review solicitation to one firm. Vice president, Jessie Kemmerling, notifies the firm when a job is complete. The firm sends the customer an email requesting feedback and a user review. This automation takes the stress out of following up.
Manage your online reputation.
Proactively managing your user reviews helps you to maintain your online reputation. According to Inc., one one-star review needs four five-star reviews to maintain a four-star average. Regularly requesting reviews from satisfied customers more proactively counteracts that bad review.
Beginning in late 2018, Kemmerling made a concerted effort to get reviews. She realized that years old bad reviews on Yelp were negatively impacting business. An internet marketing firm reached out to the company and made their case and she bought in. That firm launched a combined effort to get existing and recent former customers posted on Google. Their efforts worked and the firm now has a 4.7-star ranking on Google and a five-star ranking on a related site. Kemmerling believes that some of the advantages of user reviews are how they help build trust and shorten sales cycles.
Increase revenues and profitability with user reviews.
Mr. Wise Electric wants to capture significant market share in their target area. Nelson noted, “I don’t think we’d have the impact on the market or be as known as we are [without the reviews].” Why? Because they’re experiencing unexpected benefits. “The reviews help make the customer willing to pay more to get quality”. Reviews also help attract target customers. “When you get reviews, you get the customers who are looking for a particular type of contractor”. The reviews tell them whether or not their firm is that contractor. Finally, user reviews reduce their advertising costs. Therefore, reviews are very valuable.
His firm uses Next Door, Nelson notes. Just as with user reviews, this app captures word-of-mouth experiences. If someone shares their positive experience with their neighbors, it increases the level of familiarity for others. “If a lot of people are familiar with the contractor, then that helps,” he stated.
The advantages of user reviews are significant. Tap into them to rev up your marketing, shorten your sales cycle and increase your profits.