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Remember when we’d just ask our friends or family members for references? “Hey Mom, can I get the name and number of your plumber?” While that certainly still happens, traditional word of mouth is no longer the only resource, and when it comes to the under 40 crowd, seldom the primary resource. In fact, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Today, the new normal is to grab your phone and search for, “plumber near me” or a similar phrase and see who pops up. When those results appear, you then have a choice to make — who ya gonna call?! Online shoppers will base their first call on several factors — some rational (which one is closest to my geographic location) and some completely arbitrarily (which name "sounds" better?). However, one of the most influential factors in today’s digital landscape is online reviews.
It's true. Below are a few stats to prove the case for online reviews (credit: Creative Commons):
- 65% of people said they used their mobile device to find a business
- 65% of consumers read between 2-10 reviews
- 68% of women consult online reviews
- 66% of men consult online reviews
- 58% of consumers trust a business which has positive online reviews
- 70% of people have used the Internet to find a local business in the last 12 months
- And lastly, a recent study by Zendesk that found 88% of participants claimed to have been influenced by an online review when making a buying decision, and 90% said a positive review was an influencer
That being said, if you’re not currently getting online reviews, now’s the time to start, and here are a few quick steps to help you kick things off:
- Set up profiles on multiple review sites
Do your research and consider all of the websites that are relevant to your business (B-to-C or B-toB). Below is a short list to get you started:
- Angie’s List
- Home Advisor
- Trust Pilot
- Ask customers for reviews & make it easy for them
When asking for reviews, don’t wait too long. Strike while the positive (hopefully) memory is still top of mind. Send out a quick email to recent customers asking them to share their experience on one of the aforementioned review platforms. If they’ve already given you great feedback in person or via email, chances are they will be willing to take an extra step and add it to the review platform of their choice too. Submitting reviews does take a little time, but the easier you make it for customers to review your product or service, the more likely they are to do it. Put direct links on your review profiles in multiple places; for example, a follow up email, newsletter, and your website.
- Create incentives for reviews
There are people who try to beat the system and create fake reviews, stacking the deck with positive feedback. They will get busted sooner or later so make sure you are seeking authentic reviews, but it is ok to offer an incentive. For example, you could provide a discount code for a percentage off a future plumbing or consulting project, which would be provided after receiving their online review.
- Thank your reviewers
So you’re starting to get reviews…congratulations! You are well on your way to boosting your business. Now it’s important for you to thank those who responded, letting them know you appreciate their business and the time they took to provide a review. Although it may pain you to do so, it’s important to also thank those who provided a less than great review. Nothing diffuses a negative review as well as a sincere, “thank you” and public offer to make it right. This will not only get that reviewer to take notice and keep it from festering, it will also show other readers that you’re not defensive and run a quality, professional business. This will validate their own experience and inspire them to keep writing.
As much as we all wish there was one magic solution that we could devote all of our time and attention toward, online reviews are one of the many tools in the content marketing toolkit to help businesses grow, but you need to start somewhere. Good luck and let us know if you need help.