It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that online reviews now have the power to impact your business in a big way.
Another simple fact we can all understand: the better your customer experience, the more positive reviews your business is likely to get.
For most business owners, the challenging part is knowing where and how to invest your limited time and energy, from a marketing standpoint, to make the most of online customer reviews.
Good news: this is the “bread and butter” of what I do as a marketing consultant for local businesses. So in this post, I’m going to break down the best approach to getting and using online customer reviews in a way that drives real results in your business.
Where To Get Reviews
The short answer is that your business should be getting reviews on the top three review platforms: Facebook, Google and Yelp.
But the first step to simplifying things is understanding why each platform matters. After this, you’ll be able to decide which one is most likely to have the biggest impact on your bottom line. Then you can prioritize that platform and focus your time and energy on optimizing reviews there.
Review Platforms and Strategies
Facebook is the place to be if your business tends to get a lot of customers through word-of-mouth. People sharing posts and leaving reviews on Facebook is “word-of-mouth” in the online world.
When someone connects with your company on Facebook (whether to leave you a review, like your page, share your posts, etc.), they’re often letting friends and family know how they feel about your business automatically. This is because that activity usually appears in their timeline when someone clicks their profile.
There’s a good chance your business benefits from having more people know, like and trust you. (For service providers such as plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc., this is almost always the case.) And for that reason, Facebook is a good place for a lot of business owners focus.
The top 3 things to know about Facebook as a review platform:
It’s free. You don’t have to pay to have a page on the site.
You can increase awareness and attract more people to your page by running ads or boosting posts.
Reviews on Facebook are fairly easy to monitor since anonymous reviews are rare here. Being able to see the person who left a review makes it easier to respond with respect and authenticity, even if you’re responding to neutral comments or negativity.
If your business is in a highly competitive market or located area that attracts a lot of visitors/vacationers, Google is a great place for you to focus.
Since reviews show up in search results, people will have a better chance of discovering your business for the first time on Google if you’ve got a solid presence on the site. More reviews mean more visibility, which increases the opportunity for potential new customers to stumble upon you in their search results.
The top 3 things to know about Google as a review platform:
It’s free. You don’t have to pay for a Google+ page or to list your business on the site.
Google’s ad platform can be expensive, so stick with the basics (like having an active Google+ page and a significant number of reviews) to increase organic visibility.
If you really want to take things to the next level, you could start a blog on your website. Writing a helpful weekly blog post won’t take a ton of time (try answering FAQs), and blog posts + comments also increase your visibility in search results.
Oh Yelp. How you continue to be a consumer favorite for reviews, while complete confusing small business owners…
By now you probably know how popular Yelp is, across the board, among consumers. And if you’re like most business owners, you still feel like you’re in the dark about how to get an ROI from the review site.
Since Yelp is the number one place my clients need help, I think it’ll make more sense if I dive right into…
The top 3 things to know about Yelp as a review platform:
Free + option to pay for “Premium Service”. It’s completely free for businesses to be on Yelp. It’s also 100% free for customers to leave reviews. However, Yelp notoriously tries to persuade business owners to “pay-to-play” with their “Premium Service”. But honestly, I’ve never seen someone get a notable return from investing in Yelp’s paid service, so I don’t recommend it.
You should be aware of your presence on the site. And many business owners don’t know they’re on Yelp at all, because businesses are often added without being notified. Search for your business, “claim” your page and update your profile so it’s professional and informative.
Manage your presence on Yelp and maintain a “customer-centric” attitude here. Since people are using Yelp 24/7 for the purpose of researching and leaving reviews, it’s important to check your Yelp profile on a frequent basis. If your potential customers are likely to research reviews before doing business with you, the fastest way for you to see results from your time and effort on the site is to respond to every review. Even if someone leaves a really bad review, responding with a simple, “thank you for the feedback,” will show that you respect your customers and have nothing to hide.
Did this post helped you get clear on which review platform you should prioritize? Let me know if you’ll be focused on Facebook, Google or Yelp and share why in the comments below.