Consistently getting customer reviews on the right review sites is a major key to the success of your business. We break it down and make it easy for you here.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone has a favorite pizza place.
Maybe you're a Pete's person, while your spouse swears that Jimbo's has the superior sauce. Maybe you prefer a chain over local spots, or you hold the (mistaken) belief that frozen pizza is the best. But if you eat pizza, you probably have preferences about where to go for it.
Online review sites are the same way. Just like pizza places, everyone has individual preferences. These sites are hugely influential for your customers, so you have to know your way around the big ones.
First, some background on why online reviews matter. Lots of research confirms that consumers put a lot of faith in online reviews:
- 84 percent of American consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
- 91 percent read online reviews at least occasionally.
- 74 percent trust a business more after reading its positive reviews.
- 60 percent question the quality of a business after reading its negative reviews.
No matter who your customers are - whether they're old or young, married or single, pizza lovers or just plain wrong - they're reading online reviews, and what they read seriously affects the way they make buying decisions.
Now, which review sites matter most? Read on.
Sites to Set Your Sights On
For most businesses, it makes sense to focus on getting reviews on the "big three" sites: Yelp, Google and Facebook.
Research shoes that nearly half of participants (47 percent) said that they had recommended a local business on Facebook in the past year. That was a huge jump from the previous year, in which 30 percent of people said they had written a Facebook review.
Writing reviews on Google is also a growing trend. The research shows that people haven't changed their Yelp habits dramatically, but it's still a wildly popular site and one that many people are loyal to.
In addition to those three, you may want to focus on industry-specific sites. Hotel, restaurant and attraction owners should try to get reviews on TripAdvisor, while anyone who works in home repairs should focus on Angie's List. For the healthcare field, sites like Healthgrades and ZocDoc are influential.
Now, deciding what sites to focus on can be a little tricky if your industry has tons of niche review sites. If you set a goal to get reviews on just two sites and get 100 people to review you, each site will have a robust collection of reviews.
But here's where our pizza analogy comes back in: many people have formed habits around review sites.
While some consumers will enter a business name into a search engine and click on various review sites that pop up, about one-third of people go directly to their favorite review site to search for you.
That's why diversification is essential. If your business only has reviews on Google and Angie's List, they won't reach the people who are diehard Facebook users.
All of which is to say, we suggest you choose 3-5 review sites to focus on: three if industry-specific sites aren't huge drivers of business for you, up to five if you need to add a couple niche sites into the mix.
So, you've concluded that reviews are important (right?) and you've targeted a selection of review sites. Time to... um... hope for reviews to come trickling in?
You can try relying on hope alone, but it won't get you far. Consumers are willing to write reviews for businesses they like, but unless they're in the habit of writing reviews, they most likely won't think to do it unprompted.
Brush up on your manners, practice your most charming smile and get to work.
Here's the strategy:
- First, identify your happy customers. They may be smiling, whistling a happy tune or doing that thing where they jump in the air and kick their heels together. Or they may just look like regular people. To figure out who's satisfied with your service, ask a few questions like "Were you satisfied with our service today?" Ideally, you'll do this at the end of the transaction.
- When a customer responds positively to your question, say "Great! It would be really helpful for us if you would leave us a review on [site] or [site]."
- Follow up*
*The last step is the most important. Why? Because traffic is a mess, the car's making that sound again and the dog has chicken pox. In other words: people are busy, and they need reminders.
In fact, if you feel uncomfortable doing steps one and two, you can skip straight to the third step and still get great results.
The Ever-Important Third Step
You have some leeway in deciding how to follow up with your customers.
You can call, email or text them yourself, or - the easier option - automate the way you get reviews and feedback.
With a system like ReputationStacker, all you have to do is get the email address or phone number for your customers. The system contacts them with a one-question survey, identifying the satisfied customers and directing them to the review site of your choice (and routing the happy ones privately back to you so you can resolve their issue before they post a bad review).
It's an easy way to consistently get those all-important reviews without feeling like you're pestering your customers.
The Last Slice
It's possible to thrive in today's economy without getting online reviews, but it sure is hard to do.
Your customers use sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook when making buying decisions, so getting a steady stream of positive reviews sets you apart from your competition.
Let an automated system like ReputationStacker get you those reviews from your real customers, then watch as new customers find you.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.