Years ago, before we had the internet to offer an endless number of options for researching a product or service, we relied solely on our relatively limited social networks. If you needed a new doctor, wanted to know which florist would create the most lovely arrangement, or needed a recommendation for a good bakery, you asked your family, friends and acquaintances for their recommendations.
For that reason, Jason McCloud, SageAge’s Vice President of Digital and Integrated Strategy, says, “Word of mouth referrals have been and remain an extremely strong metric for virtually all businesses to track. Today, however, the internet provides consumers – and businesses – with a big opportunity: we can expand our social circle to an almost limitless degree and source feedback on products, services and vendors from people all over the world.”
The internet has provided each of us with the ability to find out what hundreds, maybe even thousands of people think about a particular service or product. Similarly, Jason explains, “It has provided businesses with a powerful avenue for using its own customers’ satisfaction to garner more customers.”
Reviews are just as powerful now, perhaps even more so, than they were before the internet. Let’s look at Jason’s insights into why this relatively new avenue for crowd-sourced feedback is important and how you can leverage it to benefit your business.
Why Reviews Matter
Online reviews are important for myriad reasons that could take thousands of words to really explain entirely. Here are the main ones:
- They build credibility. First and foremost, reviews of your business or product are a way to establish credibility. When your customer base takes the time and effort to leave a custom review of your product or when you have multiple positive reviews that are all unique and authentic, that tells prospective customers that they can trust you.
- They improve your SEO. SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and put simply, it refers to how well search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and more find and rank your site when someone searches for a topic related to your business. The great thing about reviews is they count toward your SEO, so search engines are more likely to find and recommend you if you have a solid number of up-to-date reviews.
- They help you understand your customers. Any business that doesn’t pay attention to the needs, struggles and challenges of its customer base is a business doomed to fail. Reviews offer your company insight into what makes your customers happy, what they’d like to see changed and lots of other useful information that can help you craft a better customer experience moving forward.
- They strengthen customer loyalty. Customers who feel compelled to leave a glowing review of a product or service are customers who will come back to buy that product or service again and again. Encouraging your customers to leave reviews, and responding to reviews that raise valid concerns, is a surefire way to breed customer loyalty and make your customers feel like valued contributors.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the big reasons why reviews play such an important role in your business’s success, let’s review how to ensure you’re getting – and using – reviews.
Tips for Leveraging the Power of Reviews
Getting “found” by your customers online is a critical part of most businesses today. Many consumers report they will refuse to patronize a business that doesn’t have reviews online, as it seems untrustworthy to them. Here are some steps you need to take to ensure your organization is getting reviews and is also using them to their fullest potential.
- Ensure you have a presence on review sites. Your business must be listed and recognized by Google in order for your customers to leave Google reviews. Similarly, you want to take ownership of any page on Yelp.com that may have already been created for your business, and if no page exists, create one yourself. If it’s relevant, visit Amazon to see if your business is represented there. Niche-specific review sites like TripAdvisor.com and Healthgrades.com have their own criteria for listings as well.
- Be proactive in addressing reviews. Your business’s online reputation is massively important, and can be skewered with just one brutal review. Create alerts on your computer to ensure you are receiving a notification whenever a review is posted and don’t bury your head in the sand if the review isn’t great. Instead, take a proactive approach and respond to any negative reviews thoughtfully and in a helpful manner to demonstrate your congeniality.
- Ask happy customers to write a review for you. Customers who are pleased with their experience will likely be more than happy to share their positive outcomes in a review. You can gather these reviews any number of ways, but if you want them posted on sites like Google or Yelp, it’s important that they come directly from your customers and not fabricated by your own office. Review sites frown on businesses who post reviews themselves.
- Use good reviews on your website and elsewhere for more powerful marketing. The power of word of mouth is undeniable and while the internet has changed how it looks and operates, human beings will always look to each other for direct, one-on-one insight in regards to goods and services. If you get an especially awesome testimonial from a customer, ask that customer if it’s okay for you to feature their review on your website, in marketing materials, and elsewhere.
Helping Senior Living Communities Optimize Their Growth
As customers increasingly turn to the internet for third-party verification of goods and services, the importance – and power – of online reviews will only continue to grow. It’s a social world out there and your customers are talking – make sure you’re in on the conversation! Online reputation management is one key part of a strategic and comprehensive digital marketing plan and can quickly grow into a full-time job! Let SageAge help! We have dedicated experts like Jason who know the ins and outs of digital media strategy and can leverage the power of reviews to increase your sales.
Learn more by calling or e-mailing Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.