Want to Build Your Online Customer Base? Cultivate Those Influential Reviews
What are your customers saying about you — and how can you leverage those comments into a torrent of new business? For the answers to these questions, you need look no further than the world of online reviews.
Today’s consumers are living much of their lives on the Web, and their favorite social media channels are captivating much of their everyday attention. This behavior makes it critically important for your small to medium-sized business to post and cultivate influential reviews on platforms on Yelp, Google and Facebook. Let’s take a look at what Yelp, Google and Facebook reviews can do for your SMB’s online fortunes, and what you can do to gather those reviews from your satisfied customers.
Why Online Reviews Matter
Why do online reviews matter so much for SMBs in search of more business? It boils down to the critical issue of trust. Customer reviews on the Web have a huge impact because:
- The majority of consumers tend to believe recommendations fro their fellow buyers, even though 83 percent of them identify as not trusting ads in general.
- As astounding 72 percent of consumers give the online reviews and recommendations the same degree of trust as in-person recommendations.
The content of the reviews obviously make a difference, with even a half-star boost on Yelp, for instance, increasing the likelihood that a restaurant will enjoy a full house. But it’s important to note that every review doesn’t have to be a glowing one. Viewers appreciate authenticity and honesty; in fact, a few less-than-stellar reviews can make the glowing ones shine that much more brightly. The important thing is that you address any complaints in those negative reviews with grace, concern, and a genuine desire to fix whatever went wrong — qualities that always make a business look better.
The Big Three: Yelp, Google and Facebook
Yelp, Google and Facebook currently stand at the top of the online-review hill. Of these three social media giants, Yelp is the one most focused on reviews; it also has the advantage of having a major presence in this particular game since 2004. Given time, however, Google could actually rival or even surpass Yelp as an online review source. Meanwhile, Facebook has always served as a platform for individuals to share advice and recommendations on all kinds of subjects, including products and services.
When you consider that 68 percent of consumers get their online reviews from social media, you can see why you’d want to cultivate both Google and Facebook reviews as well as Yelp reviews. The fact that Facebook reviews can be incorporated directly into your Google presence makes the effort that much easier and more attractive.
Asking for Reviews
How do you ask your customers for reviews without violating the review platforms’ rules or policies? There’s a right way and a wrong way to request these reviews — especially where Yelp is concerned. Yelp expressly tells businesses not to ask for reviews outright, but it does want you to encourage your customers to “Find Us on Yelp.” Once your customers are viewing your listing, they may naturally feel compelled to add their own reviews without being pushed to do so. The more work you’ve put into that listing, the more time your customers will spend looking at it — and adding their own reviews to it.
Google and Facebook are more relaxed in their requirements. Google’s main restrictions include prohibitions against bulk reviews, suppression of negative reviews, and selective solicitation of positive reviews. Facebook prohibits “incentivized reviews,” meaning that you can’t compensate people for positive reviews.
How Online Email Programs Can Help
You can greatly accelerate your collection of user reviews with the aid of online email platforms. For example, Mailchimp lets you automate emails that follow a purchase with a request to write a review. Constant Contact also enables a variety of automated email marketing messages based on your customer’s online actions. To learn more about these and other options for leveraging the considerable power of online reviews for your SMB, contact us today!