It can be one of the most tedious practices for any local business owner: asking past clients for a review on Google Plus. However, a few minutes spent per client can mean big rewards in terms of search engine marketing. This may seem like a fairly low-level marketing tactic, but having a healthy amount of online reviews is an essential aspect of harvesting a solid reputation on the web.
Reviews stand out in the search engine results.
While Google and Bing have never directly rated online reviews as possible search engine ranking factors, returning highly rated and trustworthy websites does provide the best user experience by search engine standards. There is a strong correlation between sites that rank highly in the search engine results and those that have fantastic reviews on Google+, Yelp, etc.
Bottom line, having positive and visible online reviews is good business.
Let’s take a step back and look at this from the prospective customer’s point of view. Say you’re going out to dinner with a friend and you are trying to decide which restaurant to check out. What’s the first thing you do? Perhaps a quick search of “good Italian food in Boston” or “best prime rib in Chicago.” The Google results will bring you a list of local restaurants, but rather than being taken to their websites or menus, you are brought to a list of review sites–Yelp, Google+, Urbanspoon–all of which contain a stream of reviews written by people who have already eaten at these restaurants.
The same situation is true for real estate agencies. People search online for customer reviews before deciding which agency to buy, sell, or rent with. Therefore, this process should not be overlooked!
85% of internet users consult online reviews before making business decisions.
Not convinced? Would it help if I told you that in a recent survey conducted by BrightLocal, roughly 85% of respondents reported reading online reviews? And of those 85% of people, 88% claimed that reading these reviews did influence their buying decision?
The impact of online reviews on a digital marketing campaign can be huge, but the process of soliciting these reviews plays an important role as well. Some sites, such as Yelp, discourage websites from asking for reviews, claiming that it interferes with the integrity of earning reviews organically.
Therefore, a more subtle approach may be your best bet. Encourage ALL clients to leave comments. After all, the most important part of owning a business is keeping your customers happy. If your customers are happy, they will leave you positive reviews.
Implementing a Review System
In order to achieve a healthy stream of reviews, your business must have a system in place for soliciting these reviews from past customers. This could be as simple as creating an email template with links to your Google+, Facebook, and Yelp profiles to send to clients after a deal has closed.
Each one of your agents could have personalized copy telling the customer that they enjoyed their experience, and if they have the time, that they would greatly appreciate an online review. Sending these requests via email makes leaving a comment easy for the customer, as they will only have to click through once to a review site and show their love.
Email requests also give agents some control over the clients from whom they are soliciting reviews. Of course, online review sites are always open to the public, but very few people take the time to write reviews without being prompted. And, people are more likely to write an unsolicited review if they had an unpleasant experience. So leverage your happy customers and build your online brand!
Don’t stress over negative reviews. Use them to your advantage!
Negative reviews are inevitably going to happen. There is not a business in the world that has never had an unhappy customer. Regardless of how good you are to your customers, and how well you train your agents, people will come in who never can be satisfied. And this is okay. In fact, a more robust review profile appears more authentic to Google, rather than 100% sparkling reviews.
When you do receive a negative review, treat it like you would any criticism. Take it in stride and try to learn something from it. Perhaps respond to the reviewer and make them feel heard. Tell them that you have taken their criticism into consideration and you would like to better your company for it.
What’s important is that you have more positive reviews than negative ones. So rather than sweating a couple of negative reviews, focus on earning the positive ones. After all, the big picture is that you want your company to be as successful as possible, and that starts with your customers.