Buyers are calling the shots today and ‘word of mouth’ reviews matter. A negative review on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube can cost your company customers. More and more buying decisions today are based on online reviews. Your existing customers are a great marketing resource, because their words of praise about your products or services have a major psychological influence on prospective buyers.
Reviews and Ratings Can Make the Difference
Online shoppers say that reviews and ratings influence their purchase decisions more than any other factor. Here’s how:
- When people are looking to purchase a new product, visit a new restaurant, or hire someone’s services, what do they do? Most people search on Google, Amazon, Yelp, or even Facebook or Twitter. However, when presented with multiple options, it is reviews that often influence the final buying decision. If product A has many positive reviews and product B has negative reviews (or few to no reviews), it’s a given that most people will go with product A.
- Interesting reviews that go ‘viral’ are re-posted from blog to blog, site to site, and other social media platforms. This boosts your online reputation and provides more marketing exposure than any ad campaign can ever do.
- Search engines reward websites that continually provide fresh, useful content with a higher ranking. Consequently, the more reviews you post to your website or on social media pages, the higher your page ranking, and the better your brand’s online reputation. Even negative reviews can add to that count! Include some negative reviews to foster authenticity, since online shoppers tend to distrust content that features only positive reviews.
Optimize your Google Places page to Increase Business
Google Places pages are available through Google Maps and Google Earth, and show a location, address, maps and directions, along with potentially-accurate information like business hours and categorization.
No More Third Party Reviews
Recently, Google Places has removed third party review snippets. The new layout emphasizes reviews only from Google users and no longer shows review content from third party sites like Yelp, Menupages or Booking.com. Removing these from the Places pages has had a big impact on local SEO.
To encourage users to share their feedback and improve Places pages, Google has added a button for uploading photos and made the button for writing reviews more prominent. Rating and review counts reflect only those that have been written by fellow Google users.
Use these new features of Google Places pages to build your reputation, improve visibility and direct potential customers to your website, landing page or e-commerce portal.
Connect Your Business with Local Clients—Optimize Your Google Places Page
Google Places is the most cost-effective way to market your local business. Here are some tips:
- Google Places only lists seven businesses per search with its red place markers marked A through G. One way to get into the top seven is to encourage customer reviews because the more reviews you get, the more likely you’ll land in the top seven.
- Optimize your page for keywords that could show your page higher in the rankings. Your Google Places page should include as many search terms as possible.
- Google needs data. Add pictures, videos and more details to your Google Places page.
- Make updates to your Places page. Google loves fresh content, so just by changing the main areas of your Google Places page, you can improve rankings.
Solicit and Respond to Reviews
Good reviews can be difficult to come by since usually the only people motivated to write a review are the ones with a negative experience. While you can’t incentivize reviews (Google calls this a conflict of interest), you might try some of the following:
- Mention that you appreciate getting reviews. Request them in email newsletters, blog posts, and posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Incorporate a call to action to review your business when you send out email reminders or updates.
- Reward frequent and serious reviewers with ‘star’ status, discounts or run a ‘best review’ contest.
- Put a call to action (and link) asking for a review on your website.
- When customers make an online purchase, ask them if they’d like to post a review.
- Place links to all the major review sites on your company website, preferably with a graphical link that includes the logo of the review/directory site.
- Make the process as easy as possible, provide a link to your Places page and give detailed instructions on what they need to do to leave a review.
Manage negative reviews and ratings to your advantage
There is always the odd customer who will never be happy. Accept criticism and manage it effectively. Doing nothing is not an option. You should respond online, join the conversation, and manage negative feedback. This will show prospects that you care about your customers.
- Take the issue seriously. Your prospects will be reading your reply, and realize that when someone has a problem, your business will hear them.
- Respond with an apology if your business was indeed at fault and communicate your resolution to the situation.
- Describe how future customers will not have this issue. This is a golden opportunity to market your business.
- Although you can’t always fix every issue (sometimes you don’t want to), your offer to fix a reviewer’s problem is a great marketing investment. In the response, suggest that they contact you directly so you can try to help them.
Responding to negative reviews provides a brilliant opportunity to immediately and effectively douse a potential fire and also provide customer service that may turn a disgruntled complainer into your biggest fan.
Contact WSI Thames to leverage customer reviews and ratings to boost your online marketing strategy.