Let’s say someone did something nice for you – went above and beyond to help you locate your lost package at the post office, or suggested a restaurant that has become your new favorite location. Or perhaps it was a business – or someone in a business – that did something nice for you. You received exemplary service, for example, or you couldn’t believe how kind and caring they were in a difficult situation. Besides thanking them personally, we imagine that you’d probably recommend them to an acquaintance needing the same services.
In today’s world, these recommendations have gone from personal recommendations given from one friend to another to a valuable part of any business’ digital marketing strategy: online reviews.
“In today’s world of ever-present, omnichannel marketing, consumers have become smart, savvy and selective buyers,” says Melinda Schmitz, President of SageAge Strategies. “Before they make a large decision like choosing a senior living community for themselves or a loved one, they want to see what other people think – real people who’ve actually experienced what the community has to offer.”
Online reviews are an integral part of reputation management –in other words, how other people view your community. You can have the snazziest marketing plan and most perfectly SEO-optimized website, but if you have poor online reviews, it will be a lot harder to convert your leads into actual residents.
According to the Oblero article “10 Online Review Statistics You Need to Know in 2020,” online reviews have transformed from a nice-to-have to an integral part of every businesses’ marketing plan. Here are just some of the juicy stats:
- Nearly 9 of 10 consumers read reviews before making a purchase
- 62% of consumers won’t buy from brands that censor online reviews
- 3 in 4 shoppers trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend
- More than half of online shoppers (56 percent) read at least four product reviews prior to purchasing a product, and more than one-third of them read between one and three reviews
This is why, according to Melinda, it’s so important for senior living communities to actively solicit reviews from caregivers, residents, staff and family members. Schmitz added that “consumers these days are used to being asked to give feedback on an experience or purchase. That’s good news for you, because it means they’re already primed and ready to provide feedback if you ask.”
If reputation management hasn’t been on your radar, Melinda says this time of year may be a perfect opportunity to begin. “We’re entering the holidays, which is by its nature a season of gratitude,” she says. “Gratitude is a strong emotion, and is hopefully the overwhelming feeling family members, caregivers and residents have when they think about your community. It would be completely natural at this time of the year to send a thank you message to your current residents and partners, and ask them to consider submitting an online review about your community.”
It can be a bit scary to ask for reviews if that hasn’t been something that’s been in your business practice before. Many people get anxious at the idea of getting less-than-perfect reviews, but as it turns out, those less-than-perfect ratings can actually bolster your online reputation.
“When a product or business only gets glowing five star reviews, this can leave your prospect wondering if something’s too good to be true,” she says. “When there are some okay or average reviews, it adds an air of authenticity to what the reviewers are saying.”
Melinda says to always see online reviews as an opportunity. “It turns out that 97 percent of shoppers who read reviews online also read responses from businesses. This gives you an excellent chance to react to reviews and show your prospects and others how you handle both praise and criticism.” Shchmitz says.
When it comes to asking for online reviews, you should have a multi-platform approach. While Google is the top review site customers go to, they also look at Facebook, Yelp and your community’s actual website. For the senior living community sector, you can include SeniorAdvisor.com and . “The more places your leads and prospects can read actual reviews, the better your online reputation will be,” says Melinda.
As customers increasingly turn to the internet for third-party verification of goods and services, the importance of online reviews – and your online reputation – will continue to grow. As a full-service digital marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the senior living space, we understand the power of your online reputation and have reputation management built in as one of the key pillars to our client-partners’ successes.
“It’s a social world out there,” says Melinda. “People are going to be talking about you and your community no matter what – so why not seize the opportunity to help steer the conversation?”
SageAge Strategies is a multiple-award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at (816) 349-0464 or [email protected]. You can also visit us on our website at sageage.com.
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