Author: Regina DeMars, Director of Content Marketing & Social Media
If you aren’t monitoring and managing the online reviews customers are generating about your company, you could be seriously impacting your ability to grow market share. In the last year alone, 90 percent of consumers said they used the internet to find a local business, according to a survey conducted by Bright Local, a marketing services provider. Statistics like this have many businesses wondering how they can generate customer reviews and ensure that their overall image on the web is a positive one. Follow along as we walk you through some of the hints and tricks for managing your online reputation.
Once upon a time, if a customer was looking for a product or service, they picked up a thick and cumbersome book known as the Yellow Pages. Here, sorted alphabetically by type of business, was a listing of nearly every local entity.
If you pick up a Yellow Pages directory today, you’ll notice that it’s noticeably slimmer than it was 20 years ago. That’s because Google has largely replaced the once ubiquitous listing as the go-to source for local products and services.
In fact, there are over 3.5 billion Google searches each day, and of those, 46 percent are seeking nearby businesses. To add more perspective, searches for local products and services have grown over 900 percent over the last 2 years.
Google now makes it easy for users to find local businesses by providing a local search result box where listings are prioritized by location. More importantly, Google is also including a star ranking for each business based on customer-submitted reviews.
Across the web, you can find similar attempts to evaluate your company’s product or service from the popular Yelp, to more niche sites related to specific products and services.
In today’s age, online reviews are akin to the neon signs of old attracting traffic directly to your doorstep. The simple fact is that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.
More importantly, 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to do business with a company that has received positive reviews online, and that translates directly into profits. According to research conducted by Harvard Business School, improving your rating by a single star on Yelp can generate a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue.
Online reviews have the power to direct customers to your business or steer them away, so it’s important to court an overall positive image on the web. This can be done by taking charge of your online reputation.
First, encourage satisfied customers to post a review on Google or another forum where you see a high level of search traffic. The average customer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business, according to Bright Local, so it’s important that you generate a large base of customer comments. To encourage reviews, businesses often ask customers directly using a variety of methods, including:
Another approach is to use your social media presence to encourage customer reviews. Since customers who follow your business through these channels are more likely to be promotors of your brand, this is a good way to generate positive reviews.
However, getting your customers to write about your business is only half the process. You’ll also need to monitor review sites related to your type of business and respond promptly to comments. According to Bright Local, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to use a business that responds to existing reviews.
The important thing is to get started right away. With an increasing number of consumers relying on online reviews to guide their purchasing decisions, your business could be just a review away from your next sale.