Acquiring user-generated reviews is an essential part of any comprehensive online marketing strategy. Although you don’t have direct control over customer reviews, you can’t afford to simply ignore this aspect of your marketing.
Increasingly, we’re seeing that reputation marketing and review acquisition are becoming the name of the game when it comes to local online marketing. Like I always tell our clients, actively encouraging online reviews will benefit your business in several ways.
User Reviews and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When it comes to SEO, customer reviews are an important part of the mix. User review acquisition will add a new dimension to your SEO strategy. Most reviewers unknowingly incorporate long-tail keywords in their writing, using the same language future clients will rely on when they’re searching for you. This naturally keyword-rich user-generated content carries weight for search engines like Google and helps boost your rankings.
Google also tends to give better local search pack rankings to businesses that have a lot of good reviews. And if you’re using schema markup on your site, your business’ star rating will display alongside other business info on search engine results pages (SERPs). Engaging your customers and gaining those reviews and ratings will help you on your way to SEO success.
Credibility, Likeability, and Leads
A business with a wealth of quality reviews is seen as more credible. With 88 percent of online customers turning to reviews to evaluate local businesses, you can’t afford to overlook this critical element of your online marketing campaigns. Roughly a third of consumers need to read four to six reviews before they feel they can trust a business. The clear majority of customers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
A positive online review makes readers feel like they know you. In today’s online landscape, a glowing review can feel like a warm introduction, giving the reader a sense that they already know you a bit, even before that first call.
Website Conversions from Reviews
Reviews do more than build trust and credibility. Recent studies have shown that moving from a 3-star to a 5-star rating increases click through rates from the Google Local Pack by 25 percent. This stat alone is impressive, but the study also looked at whether incorporating testimonials and reviews onto a targeted landing page — a page on your website that is being used to push a particular service, product, or deal — can affect its ability to convert.
Two groups of users were shown two versions of the same landing page, one that included reviews and one that did not. These were the key results:
83% of the people thought the business with the user-generated review on the landing page was trustworthy
74% of people who saw reviews on a landing page said they would contact the business
The researchers ultimately found that a 12 percent increase in conversions was attributable to the page with the reviews.
Now that you understand the importance of reviews, it’s time to add them to your marketing mix. Develop a strategy for generating honest and authentic customer reviews. If you communicate with your customers via email or text message send a request for a review after your service call. Include a CTA that directs customers to your preferred review method on their invoice or with a follow-up coupon you send out after their visit. There are software solutions that will allow you automate your review outreach efforts.
Here are some things to avoid when asking for customer reviews:
- Offering Incentives: Many online review platforms explicitly ban incentives in their terms of service (ToS) and will penalize you if they catch you incentivizing customer reviews.
- Asking for Yelp Reviews: Specifically asking for Yelp reviews isn’t going to do you a lot of good. Unless your customers are actively using the platform and have already left a number of reviews, Yelp will likely filter reviews left by one-time reviewers from your listing.
- Waiting to Solicit Reviews: Your chances of getting a customer review will plummet the longer you wait from when the services are rendered. If your techs are asking for reviews during service calls, you can expect completion rates of 80 to 90 percent.
- Failing to Follow Up: One of the cardinal sins of review acquisition is failing to follow up. Automated emails and text messages serve as reminders, and if used in a timely manner, they will act as major drivers for any review acquisition strategy.
Streamline the Acquisition Process for User-Generated Reviews
At the end of the day, 70 percent of customers will leave a business review when directly asked to do so. So it’s important to actively pursue reviews to spur your loyal customers to action and encourage this valuable activity.
When business owners tell me they don’t want to invest in a system to streamline the customer review process, I know it’s because they don’t understand the full value. They are losing out on leads who choose a competitor over them due to the amount of reviews. Potential customers want to know why they should choose you over a competitor — reviews tell that story and are proven to turn a click into a call for that reason.
Mediagistic recommends a two-tiered strategy for generating customer reviews as part of our online marketing programs. This includes employee training to solicit reviews combined with our own array of smart software solutions to manage the reviews that you have. Contact Mediagistic today to learn more about how we can help you improve the review gathering process and reap the benefits of positive user-generated reviews.
Ashley Garcia is an Account Development Manager at Mediagistic. She specializes in cultivating relationships with clients and gaining deep insight into their business to ultimately provide advertising solutions designed around their defined sales and marketing objectives. Connect with her on Linkedin.
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