Do you know what customers are saying about your brand online? If they're not already talking, are you encouraging them to do so? Decades ago, the success of a small business was dependent on word-of-mouth referrals. Today, however, online reviews are among the most powerful factors when it comes to new business and customer retention.
Research shows that at least 4 out of 5 adults read online reviews before making a purchase decision, with nearly 40% of adults stating they always look at a company's reviews. For small business owners, earning online reviews without overburdening your daily workload might seem impossible. This is where digital marketing automation steps in to save the day:
1. Claim online real estate
From dedicated review sites like Angie's List, to Google's review feature (that is displayed prominently in search results), reviews can live virtually anywhere online. Your first step as a small business owner is to claim your brand's online real estate. Start by crafting a consistent business profile that includes your logo, contact information and business description.
Next, submit this information across all review sites. Some examples include Google Local, Yahoo! Local, Yellow Pages, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the Better Business Bureau. Depending on your target audience and industry, it also may be a good idea to add your business listing to other sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and Angie's List.
2. Simplify review requests
Your customers are busy, and when they are online, they are being bombarded by everything from emails to ads. Marketing automation makes it simple to ask your customers for online reviews by prompting them to leave a review after purchasing a product or service. After the purchase you can send out an automated email that includes a form or link to submit a review.
For an extra tip that will boost your customer loyalty, consider sending out a “thank you” email to the customer after they submit the review. If you want even more bonus points, include a coupon in the email for a discount off of the customer’s next purchase.
Automating this process will not only get you more positive reviews, but it will rescue you from completing manual, time-consuming tasks.
3. Ask for reviews on your website
Take advantage of the opportunity to engage with your customers when they're already on your website by adding a prominently displayed review button. In addition to (or instead of) a review button, widgets can act as pop-up reminders to leave a review. This is a great option for brands that need more visibility on a certain platform.
For example, if you're trying to increase your following on Facebook, a widget asking your visitor to leave a review on Facebook is a great way to engage with them on social media (and you'll probably get a page “like” out of the deal, too).
4. Share reviews on social media
Speaking of social media, reviews left on your brand's social channels are just as powerful as how you respond to them. When you get a great review, share it! Sharing a review is a great way to say thanks to your loyal customers while displaying positive sentiment about your brand. Your followers are influenced by social proof, and showcasing how well you're loved by other customers will get your followers thinking about your business, in turn increasing their willingness to engage.
The power of positivity
When it comes to brand accountability and customer confidence in their purchase decisions, online reviews are extremely powerful. Earning great online reviews can instantly add credibility to your brand and tip the scales in your favor when customers are looking to make their next purchase.