As the field of marketing has changed and evolved, there has been one constant when it comes to getting your business’ message out there in order to grow and expand your customer base. That one constant is the power and importance of word of mouth. What your past, or present, customers say about you, good or bad, serves to build your reputation which will be a deciding factor for future customers when it comes to choosing to patronize your business over your competition. Positive customer reviews are a powerful “trust builder” just as negative ones are a potential warning sign.
With the ever increasing influence of social media and local search engines such as Yelp, Google Places, Tripadvisor and literally hundreds of other sites , the power of word or mouth and customer reviews has increased exponentially. Recent studies have shown that as much as 90% of consumers trust online local reviews and recommendations made by people they know, and as much as 70% of consumers put stock in online local reviews and recommendations made by users they don’t know. With numbers such as this, it should be plain to see how important customer reviews are for your local business.
What may be less obvious are the SEO benefits of customer reviews. It seems that the more customer reviews your business has, the more relevant Google thinks you are. Because internet users are putting so much merit in online reviews, Google is too. Google takes into account both the quantity and quality (number of good ratings) of the customer reviews of your business.
With this information in mind, the question then becomes, how do you encourage your customers to submit ratings and reviews for your business? Here are some tips:
When it comes to leaving a review, your business’ customers need the right motivation. The motivation to submit a rating and review of your business is going to come from the experience they have with you business.
Typically, customers are most inclined to leave a review when their experience with a business has been either extremely good or extremely bad. The first step in ensuring a customer leaves a positive review of your business is to give them exemplary customer service. Exemplary customer service is, at bare minimum, delivering on all the promises you make to customers. Do not promise something you cannot deliver. When mistakes occur, deal with them promptly and efficiently.
The best customer reviews are left when customers are at their happiest with your business. For this reason, the timing of asking for a customer review is quite important. If a retail store where to ask you for feedback the moment you walk into their store, the interaction would be quite off-putting for the customer, and the feedback would be an inaccurate representation of the experience of patronizing that retail store.
The best time to ask for a review is once a transaction has been completed, your customer’s needs have been met and they’ve had time to consider their feelings over the experience of making a purchase with you. Do not wait days to ask for feedback, but do not ask too early before the transaction is finished, or before any issues that may crop up have been dealt with.
By completing a transaction with your business, your customers are already doing you a big favour, but it is one that hopefully benefited them too. When asking for a review, you’re asking for your customer to take the time out of their own busy schedule to do you yet another favour, and this one comes at great benefit to you, with no benefit to your customer.
Because your customers have little invested in leaving a review, it is imperative that you thank them for their time and make it obvious that you are really appreciative.
An excellent strategy for encouraging customer reviews is to ask for an e-mail address at the time a customer makes a purchase with you. Be sure to let them know that this is information that you will absolutely not share with any other party for any reason so that your customer feels safe leaving this little bit of personal information with you.
Once you’ve obtained your customer’s e-mail address, send them a friendly e-mail thanking them for their purchase and asking them to submit a review of their experience with you. To ensure this process is as easy as possible for your customers, provide links to the review sites where your company is represented.
This e-mail should reiterate your thankfulness and appreciation of your customer taking the time to leave a review and should include terms like “I look forward to reading your review”, to ensure your customer knows that you will be paying attention to their feedback.
E-mails of this nature should be sent out within twenty-four hours of a completed transaction to ensure the high of making the purchase is still at the forefront of your customer’s mind.
In all businesses, there will be instances where things go wrong. In these situations, the temptation to gloss over bad reviews by removing them from your site, or by creating fake reviews which paint your business in a favourable light exists, but should definitely be avoided. While a multitude of “faked” positive feedback might encourage customers to patronize your business once, a bad experience will ensure they do not return. Ultimately this costs you more because customer acquisition is consistently one of the most expensive aspects of any business. An existing happy customer who will purchase from you again is a powerful asset. Your customers don’t expect perfection, they do expect professionalism and to be treated respectfully and like adults.
Instead of lying to your customers by creating enough fake reviews to overshadow your bad reviews, use unfavourable ratings as an opportunity to improve. When bad feedback comes in, do your best to correct that mistakes that were made and appease the upset customer. Sites such as Yelp offer businesses the chance to reply to customer reviews meaning that, not only can you repair the relationship with a disappointed customer, you will also be able to display your commitment to customer service to users reading the review.
Often times, leaving a review gets forgotten about or overlooked. If you find that your customer has not left feedback, a friendly reminder three or four days later can be helpful. One reminder is enough, however. Do not inundate your customers with e-mail reminders to leave feedback on their experience with you. Nagging will only serve to agitate your customer causing a rift in your business’ relationship with that individual.
Guaranteed SEO has been in the business of internet marketing for over sixteen years. We rely on our extensive experience to deliver results to our clients.