Simple Hacks to Get Good Reviews for Your Local Business
Online customer reviews play multiple roles in the growth of small businesses. Apart from having a direct effect on local search ranking, it also most times impact customers’ purchase decisions. Therefore, as a local business owner, there is no other way around it for you. You just have to have a strategy for getting reviews, and also have a response plan in place.
More than ever, reviews and ratings are now part of life in the digital marketing world. Most consumers say they don’t buy a product or service until they have checked online for reviews about the products. Therefore, any business looking to expand its horizon, reach new customers, and boost revenue should take getting and managing reviews as a priority.
Here in this guide, we will be providing you with useful information that will help you better understand the roles of reviews in your business growth and how you can get them.
Some important things you would likely be learning include:
- The importance of online reviews and ratings to any business in this digital age
- How reviews impact customer’s purchase decisions
- When negative reviews are actually positive – customer trust factors
- Who writes real reviews?
- The danger of fake reviews
- How to get reviews and how to respond to them
Having a good understanding of how reviews work, how consumers use them, and how to manage them will go a long way to help you get better reviews. And hence promote your business and help it achieve its goals.
Why Are Reviews So Important?
Every year, the number of customers who read reviews and base their purchasing decisions on them keeps increasing. To better know how important online reviews can be, let’s take a quick look at the following statistics:
- 92% of consumers now read online reviews compared to the 8% it used to be in 2014
- About 40% of consumers make a purchase decision by reading just one to three reviews compared to 29% it was in 2014
- The number one factor consumers use to judge a business is the star rating
- About 68% of consumers say they trust a local business because of the positive reviews they read about them
- Facebook and word of mouth are the top ways people recommend businesses to others
- 60% of consumers have searched a business online at least 5 times in a year compared to the 56% in 2014.
All this is to show you that customer reviews can play a huge role in your reputation and organic search rankings. Nevertheless, only a few business owners are actually doing something to encourage online reviews – many aren’t doing enough at all. With very few or no reviews on their business page, they lose many potential customers to their competitors.
So beat your competitor, attract more customers to your business, and grow your sales by giving more attention to reviews and making them an important part of your marketing strategy.
Everything is Going Mobile: What Does That Mean for Your Business?
Three out of four consumers search for a local business using a personal computer, but these days, the use of mobile devices has also increased tremendously. People now use their mobile devices to check online for local businesses when they need a product or service. That means every local business should have a good presence with a website that is not only helpful and engaging but also mobile-friendly.
Having a mobile-friendly online platform means it will be easy for potential customers to find your business while on the go using an internet browser, or mobile apps like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare.
Most consumers say they are always impressed when a local business has a mobile-friendly website. When a business also has a mobile-friendly website, they increase their chance of getting contacted by potential customers.
So, how do reviews affect customers’ purchase decisions?
According to a survey conducted by BrightLocal, online customer reviews have a huge impact on the decision-making ability of other customers – whether to buy a product or service. While some consumers revealed that they read reviews when looking for a local business, the reviews don’t influence their purchase decision. Other factors like price and location are what really drove them to buy from a local business.
But the majority of consumers surveyed in the study say would select a business based on positive reviews. So, if you have been handling online customer reviews with levity, perhaps it’s just the right time you change your approach and make it an important part of your marketing strategy. It offers a much easy route to increase conversion and boost revenue for your local business.
Negative Reviews can sometimes be Positive
While having positive reviews on your business pages is great, you don’t always have to feel bad when you get negative ones too. Research has found that if a business has reviews that are all positive, it reduces the trust level in customers. Of course, no one is perfect and when a business has only positive reviews, it gives customers the impression that the reviews might be fake or not posted by genuine people.
That means, sometimes, “negative could be positive”. Having a realistic score rating on your page is very important to convert your potential customers.
The number one factor most users use to judge a business is its star rating. This provides a kind of visual reference for customers about the business. However, only a very few consumers – about 13% say they would use a business that has a 1 or 2-star rating. At the same time, having all the reviews to be 5-star also creates suspicion that the reviews are unreliable.
Holistic View of Your Business
Yes, reviews and star ratings are strong factors that influence consumers to buy from a business. However, you should also know that consumers take a holistic view and also consider other aspects of the business before making a purchase decision.
Apart from having good reviews, another important thing consumers look out for on a business page is the number of reviews present on the page.
The more reviews a business has, the better, but studies have revealed that 88% of consumers will stop checking the reviews after checking about 10 of them. Another factor is how recent the reviews are. For a review to be relevant, most consumers say the review must not be older than 6 months – for some businesses, relevant reviews need to be within 3 months.
Finally, your business doesn’t need to be perfect – in terms of having perfect reviews and 5-star ratings before you can convert customers. There are many factors that come together to help win over a customer. Important among them is providing superior service or products. So focus on this, as well as providing stellar customer service. And it won’t be difficult to convert potential customers.
So, Who Writes Real Reviews?
In general, the reviews on a business page should be written by people who actually want to share their sincere opinion or experience about the business with other customers in order to help them make better decisions.
While men tend to write more negative reviews than women, ladies are the ones that write the most reviews. But they are more of the perspective that “if there is nothing good about what you want to say, don’t say it.” But at least both men and women write positive reviews.
Furthermore, research shows that most consumers (about 48%) after reading positive reviews about a business visit the business website. That means it is not just enough to have good reviews on your business page; you also need to ensure your website is good enough to receive the traffic. Or else, you will be missing out on a lot of potential leads.
Review Fraud – When is a Review Fake?
As more businesses begin to realize how important reviews are and review sites begin to increase, so also there has been an increase in the number of fraudulent customer reviews. Fortunately, the general public is also becoming more aware of this too.
The fraud around reviews and the awareness of people about these types of reviews are reducing the trust of many customers in reviews. The number of customers that say they are more likely to use a local business after reading positive reviews about the business has gone down from 58% in 2014 to about 45% recently.
When most people read a positive review about a business, they begin to wonder if the review is actually true. That is making them lose faith fast in reviews being used as a measure of the value of a company.
Of course, businesses buy fake reviews to increase their ratings, but this is a practice you should avoid as much as possible in order to maintain the trust of your customers.
There are different types of fake reviews. So when you hear “fake reviews”, you should be able to know what type they are. Below are the different types of fake reviews you can see on a business page:
- Reviews written by businesses themselves
- Negative reviews written by rivals to tarnish the image of the company. Though they are negative, they are still fake
- Cherry-picking positive reviews
- Negative reviews buried or unpublished
- Paid reviews
Even when businesses pay for reviews and then use the word “Honest Reviews” to describe them, that doesn’t mean consumers would still not see that they are paid reviews. Because really, these reviews are oftentimes not “honest.”
Most platforms now seriously frown at buying fake reviews. Platforms like Amazon has been taking legal actions and suing their own merchants that do it. Sellers that buy or post fake reviews on their products are likely going to find themselves in court.
Getting Reviews for Your Business
The first thing to do when looking to get reviews is to make it easy for your customers to review your business. Therefore, claim your listing on popular review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, and many more.
However, make sure you choose review sites that are relevant and impactful for your business and industry. When you have claimed your business on these sites, the next thing will be to monitor your reviews.
Keeping an Eye on Every Review
Let your customers see that you actually see and value their feedback on your business. So keep an eye on these reviews so you can respond to them appropriately and as promptly as possible. Bad and negative reviews can do a lot of damage to your reputation, but when you effectively monitor your reviews, you can quickly respond to the negative comments before they do any damage.
Responding to Reviews: The Right Way to Do It
It is not unusual to have negative reviews from your customers once in a while. For example, if you have a remodeling company, there will be times your customers will complain that your workers left some jobs uncompleted and so makes them not satisfied with your service. That happens, and anticipating that will help you have enough capacity to respond to such reviews in the best way possible. Or else, they can damage your reputation.
So how do you respond to negative reviews?
Respond don’t react!
This is very important when you are responding to negative reviews about your business. Normally, when someone says something negative about your business, you may be tempted to want to get angry, defensive, or stressed. But that’s not the right thing to do at that time. Instead, take a deep breath and try to find a middle ground between you and the reviewer.
Respond in a timely manner
We can’t emphasize this enough. If your customer felt dissatisfied enough to leave a negative review for you, you should also take it as a priority to respond to the feedback. You shouldn’t respond to any review – whether good or bad in more than 24 hours after the reviews were posted. The quicker your customer hear from you after posting their dissatisfaction, the more sincere your words will feel to them.
Embrace the negative review and fix it
Yes, don’t try to be defensive. Instead, embrace the negative review and fix the problem. Whether the complaint in the review is genuine or the customer is just trying to be overly picky or critical, understand that your response is not just going to be for the reviewer but also for all readers that will see it in the future. Show how concerned you are with their satisfaction and so be reasonable with your response.
Remember that if you are able to give the best response, you might be able to convince the reviewer to update their review. Such a person might later become one of your biggest supporters. Just see it as one of the costs you pay for doing business and marketing, and find a way to use the review to improve your reputation. Remember that “negative can also be positive.”
Take the discussion offline
While it is okay to quickly respond to negative reviews online and let everyone see how much you care about and value customers’ feedback, it is a double-edged sword in this case. So, while you respond, subtly throw in a suggestion to move the conversation to another private platform.
This can be through emails, customer chat, etc. You don’t want all your customers to witness the interaction between you the reviewer, so take it away from public eyes and preserve your reputation.
Don’t lose your head over a few bad reviews
There is no way you are going to be perfect, so don’t always expect positive reviews from your customers. No matter how well you conduct your business, you won’t be able to please everyone. So don’t stress over negative reviews. Instead, encourage your happy customers to leave good reviews for you. When you have enough positive reviews on your page, only a few negative reviews once in a while will not make any difference in your overall rating.
Empower your happy customers
Like we stated in the previous point, encourage your happy customers to get the word out about your business. Ask them to leave a review for you on your page to allow you to know just how they feel about your business.
So, make it easy for them by directing them to the review platforms where your business is listed. You can include buttons to these sites on your website, social media, newsletter, or email signature.
Assuming a customer says to you in person, “Your team did a fantastic job. I love the look of the new siding.” You can ask them, “Do you mind writing that for us on Yelp to encourage other homeowners to use our service?”
6 Effective Strategies to Get More Reviews for Your Local Business
#1: Collect email addresses during billing
During the time of purchase, asking your customers for their email addresses and phone number can be an effective and smart way to land a review from them. Once you have their emails, send a friendly follow-up after a few days or a week of using your service. Ask them to write an honest review about their experience with your business. If your customers really had a good experience, they will be more than willing to leave a review for you when you remind them to do so.
#2: Ask your customers
The truth is that most customers understand how important reviews are to your business – at least, they read a couple of reviews before deciding to settle for you. So, as long as you gave them the best product or service, don’t hesitate to ask them for reviews too. They won’t likely get annoyed if you ask.
The next time a customer gave you a compliment in person, ask if they could also write that on your page on reviews sites like Yelp, Trustpilot, etc.
#3: Use an in-store placard to encourage reviews
As a local business, chances are that you will have your customers visiting your physical location many times. You can leverage in-store signage to encourage more reviews on your business online. This can be in form of flyers, banners, brochures, or window clings.
Also, leave clear cues for your customers on your website and marketing materials to show that you desire, and would appreciate it if they could leave reviews for you online. For instance, include a review request at the bottom of the bill receipts, and provide buttons on your website that directly take your customers to where they can easily leave reviews for you.
#4: Include review reminders on your website
Making it easy for your customers to leave reviews will increase your chance of getting more reviews on your business page. This may look like an obvious thing to do, unfortunately, many businesses aren’t doing it.
One of the reasons people don’t leave reviews on businesses they are happy and satisfied with their services is because they forgot to do so. Get on top of this by reminding your customers to leave reviews for you on your page.
#5: Incentivize but don’t buy reviews
Sometimes, you may need to offer some extra incentive to motivate your customers to leave reviews for you. Many consumers have extremely busy schedules throughout the day. Because of that, people don’t want to further burden themselves by having to spare a few minutes to review a business – they see it as an unnecessarily bogus task.
So offer them an incentive for writing a review, and not a good review. You can organize a monthly giveaway where you get to choose one reviewer at random to encourage more people to leave reviews for you. However, no matter how tempting it could be, never buy reviews for your local business. It may damage your reputation in the long run.
#6: Delight your customers with a great experience
There couldn’t be any easier and more effective way to convince a customer to leave good reviews on your business than wowing them with the best experience possible. If a customer is awestruck with your service or product, they will feel obliged to leave feedback on your business. So, make it a point of duty to always give your customers a wonderful experience, and you can bet it would always pay off.
Reviews are important for building a good reputation online and also for converting potential customers. Positive reviews make consumers more likely want to use a business, and many consumers say they won’t buy a product or service until they have read reviews about it online.
So if you are particular about the growth of your business, it will be smart to include reviews in your marketing strategies. Device different means of getting reviews and always respond to all reviews – whether positive or negative. Make it easy for them and also encourage your customers to give reviews, but never buy positive reviews. It can damage your reputation in the long run.
Have you learned anything from this guide? You need to put it into action right away. Not having enough reviews on your business listings would only be making you lose potential customers to your competitors who do!