One of the best ways to connect with prospects is by using powerful stories from existing customers. As many small business owners know, it can be challenging to collect these valuable stories. Ultimately, though, without real reviews from real clients, an audience doesn’t perceive a business as the “safe” choice. And at the end of the day, everyone is searching for the local business that they can trust.
There’s no way around it—people tend to follow others. It’s called “social proof,” when individuals see others doing something, and then assume that it’s the right behavior. It’s a psychological phenomenon that, when approached strategically, has become an influential selling tool.
“52 percent of consumers reported that positive customer reviews make them more likely to use a local business…”
Need convincing? Search Engine Land shared some interesting data from the Local Consumer Review Survey around the impact of online reviews on consumers’ purchasing decisions. In the survey, 52 percent of consumers reported that positive customer reviews make them more likely to use a local business, compared to just 28 percent who make their choice based on other factors, such as location and price. Better still, the survey’s findings also reveal that 76 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally use online reviews to determine which local business to use.
So, how can small business owners gather more positive reviews about their business? Let’s explore the ways.
Create a Dedicated Review Space
External sites are important for gathering reviews, but leads and customers visit a small business’s website quite frequently. So, it’s important to create a dedicated space on the site where happy customers can share their stories—and where prospective customers can read those reviews. This enables a business to showcase powerful testimonials on-site, while also allowing small business owners to offer feedback to unhappy customers—thereby resolving issues before customers visit external review sites to share an unpleasant experience.
Leverage a Blog
The importance of blogging can’t be stressed enough. So, once a small business has established a consistent blogging schedule, it’s important to aggregate user-generated content for blog posts. Consider, for example, asking customers to submit comments about the business’s products or services, and then feature these submissions in a series of reviews. Aggregating testimonials in this way not only feeds a blog, but also enables a business to leverage reviews from all of its social properties.
In addition to sharing user-generated content on a business’s blog, small business owners should send informative newsletters and write helpful posts. Craft blogs about how to use products more effectively, explain new features or benefits, and cover exciting industry news and trends. This thought leadership will help to better engage customers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
It’s essential that small business owners take care of gathering online reviews. Once a customer purchases a product or schedules a service, send a thank-you email or direct mail piece soon thereafter, requesting that he or she submit a review or rate the experience. Of course, give recipients an option to share their opinions publicly or privately. Even more, ask happy customers to write reviews on external review sites, such as Yelp!, Google Places, Angie’s List, and more.
Provide Exceptional Products and Services
This goes without saying. In order to consistently generate positive, influential testimonials, businesses need to provide customers with what they want and what they need. To better serve customers, survey them and discover what they want to see more of and what needs improvement. Then, tailor services accordingly, and provide clients with the outstanding workmanship they expect (and deserve).
Reviews and social networking have become so important in today’s marketplace that collecting and sharing customer testimonials is critical for market success and establishing trust. These tips will not only keep current customers engaged and satisfied, but they will also help to onboard new customers.