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Turn Online Customer Reviews into a Powerful Marketing Tool

Ninety percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. NINETY percent. Further, 84% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That makes sense since an online review is essentially a personal recommendation.

If you’re not asking your current clients/customers to review you, why not? While it takes a little bit of strategy to effectively manage online reviews, you can turn reviews into a powerful tool to build trust, win new customers and improve your search engine ranking.

Why do online reviews matter?

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) has long been the most effective marketing tool there is. Clients who have had a positive service experience are often happy to share a good recommendation or review, making them a valuable inbound marketing channel.

Online reviews are also extremely influential. In fact, they can be the difference between signing a new client and watching them walk away. According to BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey, most people (91%) regularly or occasionally read online reviews – and those same people read less than ten reviews before forming an opinion about a business. Nearly 60% of consumers say that the star rating of a business is most important. So, shoot for the stars!

Asking for reviews

Asking for reviews doesn’t have to eat up that much of your time. With some preparation, you can add just a few seconds to your regular interactions with customers. For example, you can have customer feedback cards printed that give customers very simple instructions on how they can give you a review online and/or include a link to your business profile on your preferred site (such as your Facebook page or Google My Business profile). Then you can hand out the card at the end of a client meeting with a quick, polite request. You can also include this information in any automated emails you may send to customers after a transaction or meeting.

You should be a little selective in the sites you ask for reviews on. Since Google dominates the search engine space, it’s not a bad idea to start there (plus Google Local reportedly gives higher ranking to businesses with 5 or more reviews). Then move on to others. You don’t want to get overwhelmed monitoring and posting responses all over the web. It’s more important that the reviews are positive as opposed to having a high number of reviews. A good rule of thumb (after Google) is to look at industry-specific review sites such as Avvo for lawyers, Yelp for restaurants and Healthgrades for doctors.

And, remember, you don’t have to have many reviews to reap the benefit. Just five positive reviews will have an impact on potential clients (and Google).

Bottom line? Reviews matter. Consumers rely on them to make purchasing/spending decisions and businesses need them to distinguish themselves from the competition. Finally, according to the BrightLocal survey, half of all clients will provide a review if they’re asked to do so. So, start asking!

This post courtesy of Account Manager Jennifer Kardian.

 

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