Online reviews can be a major asset for businesses and this is especially true for local search. Recent studies have shown that for a majority of consumers positive consumer reviews make them more likely to use a local business and that they trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. If you are not getting reviews online you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Reviews not only help you build an online reputation they can also bring more customers to your front door. A review is a short write up or a rating provided by a customer based on their experience with a particular business. Reviews can be found on search engines local review web sites and services or even blogs.
They are basically three ways user can provide a review of your business offline, email or website. Many businesses communicate with their customer everyday through phone calls, physical mail or in-store interactions. Every one of these offline touch points is an opportunity to ask customers what they thought of their experience. And you can use negative feedback to help you improve your business and turn the positive feedback into testimonials they can be used on your website or in promotional materials. If you are still not collecting email addresses on your website for visitors that want to subscribe to your newsletter or find out more about you, you are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity.
Creating maintaining and growing a list of your customers and those who are actively interested in becoming your customers gives you an extremely useful and valuable asset. You can use this list not only to inform in market to a very qualified audience, you can also send out invitations to customer satisfaction surveys or automate a post- purchase email that asks for or even provides an incentive to leave a review for the product or service that the customer has just purchased.
The third way you can get reviews is on websites. And while that might be your own, it is more and more likely everyday that uses are going to be using other websites to review you your products and your services. Your own website is of course where you have the most control over your content and you should consider creating a section dedicated to testimonials and sharing the experiences of past customers. This is an opportunity to host user generated content on your sites that search engines will love and for your users reading about the real life experiences of past customers can be a powerful influence to the purchasing decision that a prospective customer is thinking about.
And do not forget to provide an area where users can submit reviews directly on your pages. Whether you build this into your site directly or you embed one of the many third party reviews solutions you will never get any reviews if you do not ask. Aside from your own pages there is an ever growing list of sites out there in that cater to collecting user reviews for all kinds of products, services and businesses. Entice your happy customers to write reviews on major business listing websites like Google plus local, Yahoo Local, Yelp, City Search and more. And remember that there are a host of industry-specific reviews sites like Trip Advisor for the travel sector that you want a focus on as well.
You also want to note the different review sites offer different frameworks. While many use the familiar five-star format others will break up ratings into different categories. Google plus local for example uses the Zagat system that differentiates restaurants ratings by food, decor and service on a thirty point scale.
Regardless of how you get them and share them around the web, reviews are great opportunities to build content and references to your pages that will help people find you with the search engines and then help them along the path to conversion when they get there.