Reputation is everything. For 83% of consumers, what people say about a business is more important than what the business says about itself. (Nielsen) For local, service-driven businesses, this is especially important as 86% of consumers would pay more for a service from a business with higher ratings and reviews. (BrightLocal)
Managing your business’s online reputation is a lot of work, but even with the limited time that local business owners have, there are a few great places to start—some low-hanging fruit so to speak. We believe that these are the most effective and important areas to focus on first when it comes to managing and marketing your business’s online reputation.
Ask for reviews.
Ask yourself which of the insurance agencies below you’d have more confidence in hiring:
They both have five stars, but when it comes to online reviews, it’s not just about the amount of stars you have. It is important to have many positive reviews. Not only does this give consumers more confidence in your business’s ability to meet their needs, it also protects your online reputation from being tanked by one negative review.
The way to get more positive reviews is simple: ask! We see a great increase in amount of reviews simply from asking. And if this process is quick, easy and automated after a purchase or completed appointment, even better!
Respond to reviews.
It’s very important to keep track of reviews as they come—positive or negative—and respond. It’s encouraging for customers to be thanked for positive reviews, and it’s especially important for businesses to reply to negative reviews quickly and professionally.
If handled well, a negative review from a poor experience can be turned around into a positive experience for the customer. Not only can you work through a solution before it becomes a bigger problem, you can also do this in a public forum where other potential consumers will see that your business cares about customer service.
Promote positive reviews.
You’re good at what you do and it’s important for people to know that! Be sure you share the positive reviews that your business is receiving on other review platforms, on social media, your website, landing pages, and on print material and let your happy customers do the selling for you. When you share these positive reviews on social media, just make sure that you are spreading them out over time and mixing them in with other content.
Remain FTC and ISO compliant.
An effective reputation marketing strategy can take dozens of precious hours a month to execute. From monitoring the many review sites out there, to asking for and responding to reviews, some decide that managing and marketing their business’s online reputation isn’t a top priority, which is understandable! It’s easy to make excuses for a lack of investment in marketing, especially when your job is already pulling you in a thousand directions.
In this case, many people decide to turn to services and platforms to do it for them. A very smart move, but only if you know exactly what practices are used to garner reviews. Unfortunately, a lot of solutions out there use processes called ‘gating’ and ‘filtering’, essentially meaning they ensure a positive review will be received before the customer is officially allowed to even give one. This is an illegal practice and up until recently, a lot of people were getting away with it. Now it is being more strictly enforced, and many businesses have been penalized because of it.
With review platforms today being considered the new word-of-mouth, your business can’t afford to not be the one people are talking about. You may not receive all 5 star reviews, but guess what? An average score of 4.8 or 4.9 will be just as trustworthy, and consumers will know your business is getting real, honest feedback from people in every kind of scenario. But it’s important to put some resources into this aspect of marketing…to give every customer the opportunity to review, to follow up on all reviews (especially negative!), and promote the positive all while following the rules. It just might be the biggest (and quickest) bang for your marketing buck you could hope for!